The Blugold wrestling team continues to focus on growth after they came away with a fourth-place finish in the Pete Willson Wheaton Invite.
The UW-Eau Claire wrestling team competed in the Pete Willson Wheaton Invite at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
The invitational was led by James Huntley, a third-year wrestler, who took second.
The Blugolds finished with 97 points, coming in fourth place out of the 34 teams in the event.
The winner, North Central (Ill.), finished with 120.5.
Huntley, competing at 197 pounds, defeated Ohio Northern’s Cash Thompson by fall in the semifinal before losing in the championship match to North Central’s Ben Bergen by a 7-2 decision.
Huntley knocked off the No. 1 seed earlier in the tournament.
Tim Fader, the Blugold head coach, said he was impressed with Huntley’s effort along with the rest of the team in the event.
“You can see him growing and getting better each time he’s out there,” Fader said. “I thought we competed in each match well. I thought the guys were prepared.”
Huntley said he thought the team especially excelled at gaining bonus points as they competed over the weekend.
“Evan (Lawrence) pinned every kid he beat,” Huntley said. “Bonus points are what kept us in the team race.”
Lawrence, a third-year wrestler, recorded five pins over the two days of competition on his way to a third-place finish at 174 pounds.
Lawrence lost 19-2 in a major decision to Cornell Beachem of Mount St. Joseph before pinning Conner Homan of Mount Union (1:35) and UW-Platteville’s Nick Dado (1:51) in the third-place match.
Lawrence won the Jack Schwartz Award for the event, which is given to the wrestler with the most falls in the least amount of time.
Lawrence said he was proud of how his team competed in the event throughout the weekend.
“I felt like my teammates did a great job staying focused in the tournament and they fought hard every match,” Lawrence said.
Weighing in at 165 pounds, Chase Schmidt, a third-year wrestler, placed fifth, finishing his second day 2-1.
Jake Drexler, a second-year wrestler, also placed fifth at 149 pounds. Drexler fell in the semifinal and in the consolation semifinal, but bounced back in the fifth-place match, winning with an 11-9 decision.
Fader said he was proud of his team’s effort in the tournament and admired his team’s drive as the event continued, acknowledging this is a huge emphasis as an area of growth for the rest of the season.
“A major part of the sport is how you rebound after a loss,” Fader said.
The Blugolds return home to compete at the McPhee Center this week as they host Nebraska Wesleyan on Friday, Feb. 7. This will be the team’s last dual match of the season.
They will then host the Don Parker Open at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8.
Janssen can be reached at [email protected].