Choinski caps career with third place at Nationals

Billy Piotrowski, Sports Writer

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The UW Oshkosh Wrestling season concluded last weekend. Senior Mark Choinski polished off his college career with a third-place finish at the NCAA Division III Championship last Friday and Saturday.

Choinski’s third-place finish is the best of his collegiate career, which put him in rare company. Choinski is now the third Titan in history to win at least three All-American awards.

Choinski said he is humble about all of his accolades, saying that he wrestles to be the best wrestler he can be.

“I didn’t really think much of the [All-American] award because I compete for my own purpose,” Choinski said. “The medals and recognition are nice, but I’m not focused on the awards. I’m more concerned with getting better and reaching at my highest potential.”

Choinski had to push even harder in the weeks of practice leading up to nationals this year. Head coach Efrain Ayala praised Choinski for his dedication and flexibility after suffering a knee injury at practice.

“The first practice after regionals, Mark suffered a knee injury,” Ayala said. “We had to make adjustments and get creative with our practices outside the wrestling room. He responded very well and the injury didn’t seem to slow him down at nationals.”

Choinski opened nationals on Friday with a pinfall victory with 19 seconds left (6:41) in his first match. Choinski talked about the importance of maintaining that focus throughout the tournament.

“The whole tournament my mindset was clear and focused,” Choinski said, “I knew I had all the skills and technique to compete against anyone, so I stayed patient and just waited to step onto the mat.”

It was an emotional weekend for Choinski and Ayala, who both knew it was Choinski’s last time on the mat as a competitor. Ayala mentioned the emotional weight of the weekend and trying to take in every moment.

“Knowing this was my last national tournament with Mark, I tried to enjoy every moment,” Ayala said. “Our emotions were high and we really could feel this chapter coming to an end.”

As Choinski’s chapter in UWO wrestling history as a competitor comes to an end, he will be returning to the mat as an assistant coach next season. Ayala said he is excited about how much Choinski will bring to the team.

“He will continue in the classroom as well and continue his goal of getting a degree,” Ayala said. “He is excited to give back on the mat and having him coach will be a huge asset to the team. We have many wrestlers looking to punch their ticket to nationals next year, and we are really looking forward to it.”