The UW Oshkosh wrestling Team is hard at work preparing for the NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional. After finishing the regular season with a 7-5 record in Duals, the Titans took fourth place at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship tournament last Friday.
UWO’s 103.5-points marks their best finish in the WIAC Championship tournament since 2014, where the team also took fourth. 2014 was head coach Efrain Ayala’s first season coaching the Titans, and said he was very excited heading into this year’s tournament.
“There was a chance we could finish in the top three, and I was sure to share that possibility with the team,” Ayala said. “This year’s team was stronger than ever. I shared with them my expectations and hopes, and we went in there to get work done. A fourth-place finish is something we are proud of.”
Throughout the season, the Titans were working hard everyday to address weaknesses in their techniques. Freshman AJ Schoenfuss said he has been improving multiple aspects of his craft throughout his first college season.
“Coming into college I was not good on my feet at all, and I think that coach [Ayala] knew this,” Schoenfuss said. Throughout the season he, along with several of the other coaches, have helped me to break down what I was doing right and wrong. By doing this I have significantly improved but still have a lot more to learn in the rest of the season and rest of my career.”
Schoenfuss and his teammates will have another great opportunity to learn and improve during the NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional.
Sophomore Ben Kitslaar said the regional tournament and the possibility of moving on to the National Championship, means a lot to himself and the team.
“I look forward to fighting for a spot at the National Tournament,” Kitslaar said. “It is a dream of mine to represent my university at the biggest stage in this division of wrestling.”
Coach Ayala said the Titans are a team loaded with young talent, all hungry for a chance to represent UWO on the biggest stage possible.
“Each one of our starters holds huge potential for this upcoming regional,” Ayala said. “Any one of them could break out and have an amazing day. I think that’s what is so exciting right now: we are on the edge of greatness. Of course we will be looking for [senior] Mark Choinski to make it through the regional on top and head into his third national tournament.”
The NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional takes place on Feb. 22-23, at the UW-Eau Claire McPhee Center. The NCAA Division III Championship takes place two weeks later from March 8-9 at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, VA.