Wheaton wrestlers face tough competition

The Wheaton Wrestling Team won four of the six matches they’ve had since Dec.16. The victories were against Nebraska Wesleyan University, University of Dubuque, Concordia University in Wisconsin and Ferrum College. The Thunder fell to The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and to Olivet College.
On Dec. 16, 2017, Wheaton won all three of their dual competitions at the Jim Fox Duals competition. Senior Carlos Fuentez, senior Frank Aiello, senior Caleb Odell, sophomore Isaac Odell and junior Jonavan Huggins earned victories in all three of the matches they competed in. Huggins won his second victory against Concordia by forfeit, but his victory over Nebraska Wesleyan’s Dustin Monroe was finalized by a major decision.
The Wheaton wrestlers mourned the loss of former Wheaton wrestling head coach professor Pete Willson who passed away on Dec. 30, 2017. Willson graduated from Wheaton in 1950 and was a successful wrestler himself, winning four Wheaton Invitational championship titles and competing in three NCAA championship competitions. Willson then spent 10 years as Wheaton’s assistant wrestling coach from 1964-74 before becoming the head coach; he retired from his coaching position in 1990. He returned to coach the 1995-96 season before returning to retirement. Wheaton’s wrestling room is named after the late Willson, and the annual Wheaton Invitational that Willson himself competed in is called the “Pete Willson-Wheaton Invitational.”
To start off the 2018 competition, the Thunder wrestlers competed in the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals. Wheaton’s first opponent was UW-La Crosse, who defeated the Thunder 33-9. Fuentez and Aiello won their matchups by a fall and 3-1 decision respectively.
After that tough loss, Wheaton was able to rebound with a close victory over Ferrum College. Fuentez won his weight class by injury default, and Huggins won his weight class by a 3-2 decision in overtime. Aiello and Isaac Odell won their weight classes by an 8-3 and 5-2 decision, respectively. Going into Max Gierke’s 285-pounds matchup, the Thunder were trailing Ferrum 18-15, but Gierke won in decisive fashion with a 6-0 decision. This victory tied the Thunder with the Panthers which Wheaton won on tiebreaker criteria.
Olivet eliminated Wheaton in the second round of the consolation bracket with a final score of 24-18. Individual athletes continued their tournament success. Fuentez defeated his final opponent in a 7-4 decision, and Aiello won by fall at 2:50 into his match. Isaac Odell won by fall at 4:15 into his 184-pounds match, and Gierke finished out competition for the Thunder with a 10-3 decision.
Yesterday night Wheaton faced the University of Chicago at 7:00.
The Thunder wrestlers return to action next Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 7:00pm on Wheaton’s campus against North Central College.

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