By Maggie Franke
The Wheaton Wrestling team hosted the Pete Wilson Invitational on Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26. The Chrouser Recreation Complex filled with wrestlers from across the country as spectators, parents, friends and family flooded the stands.
“The Pete Wilson Invitational is the such a special opportunity for wrestlers because it is the largest and longer running DIII tournament, outside of the national tournament,” junior Isaac Odell said.
Over the course of the two-day tournament, wrestlers from 38 different teams competed in six different weight classifications ranging from 125-pounds to 285-pounds.
“This tournament is always awesome because of the great competition,” Odell commented. “It is really cool that teams … we don’t usually see come to this tournament. It is always fun to wrestle new people.”
The Thunder wrestlers ended up finishing 18th overall in the team competition. Both senior Carlos Fuentez and junior Odell were the runner-ups in their own weight classes.
Going into the final, Odell maintained a calm mentality. “More importantly, just keeping in mind that I was not just wrestling for myself but … wrestling to glorify my Lotrd and savior, Jesus Christ. Being the runner-up at this tournament is awesome. Of course, I would have liked a different outcome in the finals, but I am still happy.”
Wheaton finished seventh place out of 35 teams last year. However, while an 18th place finish as a team overall this year might seem like a major loss for the Thunder, half of the teams in the top 20 at the 2019 Pete Wilson Invitational were different from the top 20 teams at the 2018 Pete Wilson Invitational. North Central College was a newcomer to the tournament this year, and they finished second overall as a team.
Five schools from the CCIW competed in the Pete Wilson Invitational: Millikin University, North Central College, Elmhurst College, Augustana College and, the Pete Wilson Invitational’s host, Wheaton College. This weekend, the Pete Wilson invite was an opportunity for the Thunder to get a sneak peek at what the
North Central, who placed second overall in the tournament, is the front-runner for the CCIW team title. Millikin and Elmhurst finished 9th and 13th respectively, and they will also prove to be tough competitors for Wheaton to face in a week. However, the Thunder has a game plan going into their championship season.
“The post-season part of the season is always really fun,” Odell said. “These tournaments are the best. There is good competition and the stakes are high, so it is going to be really exciting.”
Wheaton finished in fourth place, closely behind Elmhurst at the 2018 CCIW Championship Tournament, and Fuentez will have the opportunity this year to defend his 2018 124-pounds CCIW Wrestling Champion title. Odell and junior Max Gierke finished third and fourth in the tournament last year, and the door of opportunity is also open for them to pin down more points with higher place finishes.
Either way, Odell said that their coach is always telling them to, “give God the glory in wins and losses.”