Choinski qualifies for NCAA championship meet

Billy Piotrowski, Sports Writer

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The Titan wrestling season has entered its final two weeks. The last event of the season is the NCAA Championship in Roanoke, Virginia on March 8 and 9.

UWO competed in the NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional in Eau Claire last Saturday where they placed sixth out of 17 teams with 81 points. Only one Titan, senior Mark Choinski, qualified for NCAA Championship, finishing third in the 165-pound weight class.

Choinski emphasized the difference he feels this season compared to qualifying in both his sophomore and junior seasons.

“This year means the most to me,” Choinski said. “I was excited in the past, but the difference this year is the level of difficulty I faced at this year’s regional tournament. Not only was I tested physically, but also mentally. I knew that every time I stepped out on the mat, it could be my last time ever competing as a student-athlete. So I wanted to make the most of it. I was able to find peace by just telling myself how blessed I am to be given the opportunities I received over the past years.”

Choinski will also have a chance to earn his third All-American Award at the NCAA Championship.

Freshman Beau Yineman finished fourth in the 197-pound weight class, just missing the cut for the NCAA Championship. Yineman isn’t deterred though; he talked about how coming so close just fuels him and helps him get excited for next season.

“I am looking to go to nationals [next season],” Yineman said. “I want to qualify and do damage at nationals. I came short this year, but I’m going to make sure I qualify and more this upcoming season.”

Head coach Efrain Ayala said he is extremely excited for and proud of Choinski. Ayala reflected on Mark’s trips to the NCAA Championship, and what they’ve meant for him as a coach.

“It’s his third and last time at the national tournament,” Ayala said. “It’s been great coaching him, and an honor to be in his corner. His mental and physical game is solid right now. We are excited to get there and make some noise one last time.”

Choinski said he has taken this season with a well-versed veteran mindset.

“This year is different from the past years,” Choinski said. “I have approached this year in a more positive manner. I have such a good understanding of the sport and the culture surrounding it that I am able to make wiser decisions as well as reach out to more people, whether it being my fellow teammates or peers.”

Chinoski said his career at UWO, especially this season, has changed him as a person.

“My experience this year has been so powerful because it has changed the way I view everyday life,” Choinski said. “I know that nothing in life is guaranteed, and if you take something for granted you’ll never get to soak in the moments you’re currently living in. So, this year I challenged myself to slow everything down and embrace the significance of the situations, whether it being difficult or enjoyable. I believe I have gained the most from my senior year, and I will be completely satisfied with my final experience as a UWO athlete.”

Choinski gets to soak in his last NCAA Championship on March 8 and 9, at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, Virginia.