Wrestling dominates in season opener

Billy Piotrowski, Sports Writer

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The UW Oshkosh wrestling season kicked off last Saturday at the Pointer Open at UW-Stevens Point. The tournament was not scored, but the Titans exceeded expectations in their first meet of the season.

After working hard in the off-season, UWO was ready to get back on the mat with a renewed energy and purpose. Senior Mark Choinski qualified and competed in the national championship tournament last year, and the road back to that spot this season started at the Pointer Open.

Head coach Efrain Ayala always has high expectations for the Titans each season and said the leadership from the older wrestlers worked its way down the roster and raised the bar for the team this year.

“Our older guys performed really, really well and showed our younger guys good leadership throughout the whole tournament, and the young guys performed because of that,” Ayala said. “Our young guys wrestled really, really well, higher than I expected this early in the season.”

Choinski, UWO’s only NCAA tournament competitor last year, finished the Pointer Open first for the 157-pound weight class with 15 points.

Choinski said he couldn’t wait to start this season competing at 157 again.

“This year I am looking forward to embracing the process and experience of my senior year,” Choinski said. “I know I have done everything in my power to become the best in the country so when March comes, I will be standing on top of the podium. I will be a national champion before I leave the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.”

Competing on the national stage is a goal for many Titan wrestlers. Choinski’s teammate, Junior Husam Alabed also emphasized his excitement for the season and his NCAA aspirations.

“I’m looking forward to competing with my brother and wrestling partner Mark which is his last year,” Alabed said. “I have big hopes for this season. Hopefully we can have multiple NCAA qualifiers, and all of us get to All American.”

The road to the national championship continues at the Dan Gable Open at Kolf Sports Center on the UW Oshkosh campus. That meet will take place this Saturday with the first match starting at 9 a.m.