Rough start for Viking grapplers-AY -jcr -dlh

Matthew Kruse

Halfway through the season the Lawrence wrestling team has gotten off to a rocky start. Hindered by injuries and low numbers, the Vikings (2-7, 0-2 in the WIAC) began their season with four straight dual losses. Matches included two conference opponents, UW-Platteville and UW-La Crosse, before the team headed down to Florida over the winter break.
In Florida they competed at the Citrus Open in Fort Lauderdale, taking 11th place out of 12 teams. No Lawrence wrestler placed better than sixth place, with sophomore David Quinlan at 125 and junior Ben Dictus at 184.
Things went slightly better during the second portion of their trip. They competed at the University of Central Florida Duals, where they finished with a 2-3 record. The Vikings defeated Waynesburg, Pa., and the Rose-Hulman Institute to gain their first two dual victories for the season.
They were solidly defeated by host team Central Florida, 37-6. Lawrence’s only wins in that dual came from team captains Joe Austin (174) and Ben Dictus (184). The other two losses were much closer and more disappointing. Case Western Reserve University won 30-24, and Wilmington (OH) won 26-21.
In both cases the Vikings were handed 12-point deficits due to forfeits at 197 pounds and heavyweight. Both of Lawrence’s 197-pound wrestlers, senior Scott Polewach and freshman Andrew Moreno were out with injuries, and no replacement has been found for last year’s heavyweight Kenny Hamm, who is currently serving in Iraq.
Overall, head coach Dave Novickis was disappointed in the team’s performance, “We didn’t wrestle up to our expectations in Florida. We need to step it up for the rest of the season.”
Unfortunately, the second half of the season won’t be much easier than the first. The Vikings still have to face No. 20 ranked UW-Steven’s Point and UW-Whitewater, which was ranked No. 23 earlier this season but has since fallen out of the top 30 in the NCAA Division III polls.
Coach Novickis is looking for his team to begin its turnaround this weekend at the North Central College Invitational, Ill., a two-day tournament featuring 20 teams.