The Wisconsin wrestling team opened the season with its first official practice Tuesday.
This year’s UW squad features six returning NCAA qualifiers. However, the Badgers must replace four-time All-American Isaac Jordan (165 pounds) and Connor Medbery, who was a four-time NCAA qualifier, two-time All-American and 2017 national runner-up at heavyweight.
The Badgers begin competition at the Michigan State Open Nov. 5 in East Lansing, Michigan.
Here are a few tidbits from the weeks leading up to the season:
Seven Badgers ranked by Flo
Nearly three-quarters of Wisconsin’s projected starting lineup earned recognition in Flowrestling.org’s preseason rankings.
Redshirt-senior Ricky Robertson was the highest ranked-Badger. He was tabbed the No.12 wrestler in the land at 184 pounds. The three-time NCAA qualifier was 27-16 last season while wrestling at 197 pounds.
Eli Stickley is ranked No.13 at 133 pounds to begin the year, while fellow redshirt-sophomore Hunter Ritter claims the No.17 spot at 197.
Stickley was 20-19 a season ago. Ritter posted a 20-15 mark and qualified for his first NCAA tournament.
Redshirt-freshman Evan Wick begins his first full season of competition ranked No.18 at 165 pounds. During his redshirt campaign, Wick compiled a 15-3 record while wrestling unattached. He led UW’s unattached wrestlers in takedowns (60) and four-nearfall (18) a year ago.
Cole Martin (141), a redshirt-sophomore, and redshirt-senior Andrew Crone (157) begin the year at No.19 in their respective weight classes. Crone ended last year ranked No.19 at 149 pounds.
Last season, Martin produced a 21-17 record that culminated in his first trip to the NCAAs.
Crone was a career-best 29-13 a year ago and also made his debut at the NCAA tournament.
Senior and two-time NCAA qualifier Johnny Jimenez is ranked No.20 at 125 pounds. He was 16-12 last season and qualified for his second straight national tournament.
Though seven of their 10 anticipated starters are ranked, Wisconsin was not included in Flo’s preseason team rankings. While that may seem unusual on the surface, consider that the team rankings are a combination of total ranked wrestlers along with projected NCAA tournament results.
Flo currently projects the Badgers will finish tied for 31st at the NCAA Tournament with six points. That’s 8.5 points behind the projected total of No.20 Oregon State, the final team in the preseason rankings.
Robertson fourth at U-23 World Team Trials
Robertson represented the Badger Regional Training Center at last weekend’s U-23 World Team Trials in Rochester, Minnesota.
He placed fourth at 85 kilograms in Sunday’s freestyle competition, recording three wins against two losses.
In the opening round, Robertson won by decision over Austin Chaon (NMU-OTS) by a score of 4-1, 4-1. He followed that by downing Matt Reed (Tiger Wrestling Club) 4-2 in the quarters.
The semifinals marked the end of Robertson’s title run as he fell to Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm), 8-0. However, Robertson bounced back with a 10-0 tech fall over Vaughn Monreal-Berner (Marines) in the consolation semis.
Ultimately Robertson fell to Reed, his quarterfinal opponent, in the third-place match 6-5.
Robertson also competed in Sunday’s freestyle tournament at 86 kilos. He posted a 1-2 record on the day. His lone win came over Wyatt Koelling (Missouri Wrestling RTC) in the opening round, a technical fall by the count of 17-6.
Jordan becomes assistant at OK State
Last month, Oklahoma State head coach John Smith announced former UW standout Isaac Jordan joined the Cowboys’ staff as a volunteer assistant coach.
In addition to being a four-time All-American and 2016 national runner-up, Jordan compiled a 113-18 record during his time in Madison and captured a pair of Big Ten championships.
Badgers consider hosting high school dual
Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis recently mentioned the possibility of the Badgers hosting a high school dual meet before the home dual against Maryland Dec. 7.
“We are still hammering out some details and working with compliance to make sure we meet all NCAA rules, but watch for information on this in the weeks to come,” Davis said in a recent ‘Tuesdays with Barry’ newsletter. “We are excited about the prospect of this event.”
Badgers tab Bono new head wrestling coach
The University of Wisconsin wrestling team has a new head coach.
On Saturday, UW tabbed former South Dakota State front man Chris Bono as the 16th head coach in program history.
The nation-wide coaching search came to a head just hours after Friday night’s application deadline.
Hey #Badgers fans, we've got big news!
— Wisconsin Wrestling (@BadgerWrestling) March 24, 2018
Bono was named Big 12 Coach of the Year this past season and coached the first national champion in program history.
In the last six years, Bono has coached five All-Americans. The Jackrabbits have had at least one NCAA qualifier in each season under Bono’s guidance.
Prior to his stint in Brookings, Bono spent three seasons at the helm of Chattanooga. There he coached a pair of All-Americans and 19 NCAA qualifiers. The Mocs won three Southern Conference championships during his tenure.
Bono competed at Iowa State during his college days, qualifying for four NCAA tournaments. He won a national championship at 150 pounds and attained All-American status on three occasions.
In freestyle competition, Bono made the US world team on three occasions. He was a two-time freestyle champion and placed first at the World Cup in both 2002 and 2003.
Barry Davis resigns as head wrestling coach
Wisconsin wrestling head coach Barry Davis is stepping down at the end of the season.
That announcement came from the UW Athletic Department early Monday afternoon, just hours after the Badgers advanced seven of their 10 wrestlers to the 2018 NCAA Division I National Championships.
The move reportedly comes after a recent meeting between Davis and athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Davis, who has been the head coach at Wisconsin for the last 25 seasons, will remain onboard through the end of next week’s NCAA Tournament.
During his tenure, Davis has coached 26 All-Americans and three NCAA champions. He is the winningest coach in program history, sporting a career dual meet record of 234-172-11. This season, Davis guided the Badgers to a 7-5 dual record and a 4-5 mark in the Big Ten.
The veteran head coach reportedly met with the team this morning to inform them of the circumstances.
A timeline on the search for Davis’ replacement has not been announced. But a UW official confirmed that a national search will take place.
Associate head coach Trevor Brandvold and assistant coach Kyle Ruschell will remain on staff through the end of the spring semester to aid in the transition process.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Wisconsin wrestling upends No. 13 Illinois
A strong team effort lifted the No. 20 Wisconsin wrestling team to a 19-16 win over host No. 13 Illinois in a Big Ten Conference dual Sunday afternoon.
Though each squad one five matches, the Badgers were able to pull the upset due to some timely performances.
Johnny Jimenez got UW (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) off on the right foot as he upended No. 18 Travis Piotrowski 1-0 in the dual’s opening match at 125 pounds.
It was the first conference win of the season for Jimenez who is now 2-6, 1-3 as an attached wrestler.
The Illini (7-4, 6-3) earned decisions in the next two bouts to grab a 6-3 lead heading to 149 pounds.
That’s where Wisconsin’s Cole Martin recorded a key pin, winning by fall over Eric Barone in 5:15. Martin’s victory gave the Badgers a lead they managed to cling to for the remainder of the day.
Next up, No. 19 Andrew Crone scored his second win over a ranked opponent in a 48-hour span. The redshirt senior topped No. 20 Kyle Langenderfer 8-2 in sudden victory.
Crone is now 3-2 against Langenderfer at the collegiate level, including a 1-1 mark against him this season.
Illinois got back on track with a major decision from second-ranked Isaiah Martinez at 165 pounds. He topped No. 6 Evan Wick 14-6.
The match was the second in a string of three consecutive bouts against ranked opponents for Wick. He is set to face No. 11 Richie Lewis of Rutgers when the Badgers and Scarlet Knights tangle Friday.
Ryan Christensen restored order for Wisconsin with a major decision of his own at 174 pounds.
For the second straight dual, No. 9 Ricky Robertson faced a fellow top-10 foe. This time, he crossed paths with No. 6 Emery Parker.
Parker emerged victorious by a count of 9-4. That win brought the Illini back within three with two matches to go.
Sunday marked the second time the two had met this season. Robertson took the first meeting by a count of 3-1 in sudden victory back in mid-November.
Hunter Ritter pushed UW’s advantage to six points courtesy of a 3-2 decision over Andre Lee.
That meant Illinois needed a pin at heavyweight to tie the match and force the dual meet to be decided by criteria.
For a brief moment, in the latter portion of the second period, it looked like the Illini were about to get their fall.
Deuce Rachal was able to put UW’s Ben Stone on his back. But Stone fought to avoid the pin.
Facing a 7-1 deficit, Stone fought back to cut the deficit to two. While he fell 7-5, Stone’s loss by decision preserved the dual meet win for the Badgers.
Wisconsin returns home to finish out the dual portion of its schedule. The Badgers host No. 16 Rutgers Friday before squaring off with No. 22 Purdue Sunday.
No. 20 Wisconsin 19, No. 13 Illinois 16
125: Johnny Jimenez (UW) dec. No. 18 Travis Piotrowski, 1-0
133: Dylan Duncan (UI) dec. Jens Lantz, 5-2
141: Mike Carr (UI) dec. Eli Stickley, 10-4
149: Cole Martin (UW) p. Eric Barone, 5:15
157: No. 19 Andrew Crone (UW) dec. No. 20 Kyle Langenderfer, 8-2 (SV-1)
165: No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (UI) maj. dec. No. 6 Evan Wick, 14-6
174: Ryan Christensen (UW) maj. dec. David Rojas, 17-4
184: No. 6 Emery Parker (UI) dec. No. 9 Ricky Robertson, 9-4
197: Hunter Ritter (UW) dec. Andre Lee, 3-2
HWT: Deuce Rachal (UI0 dec. Ben Stone, 7-5
Badgers fall to No. 14 Nebraska
Visiting Nebraska won seven of 10 matches en route to a 24-10 over Wisconsin at the UW Field House Friday night.
The evening’s proceedings began at 165 pounds where No. 12 Isaiah White of Nebraska upended No. 6 Evan Wick by a count of 7-3 to give the Cornhuskers an early 3-0 lead.
UW’s Ryan Christensen (174 pounds) knotted the team score a match later as he edged Beau Breske 3-2.
The back and forth affair continued at 184 pounds. Seventh-ranked Taylor Venz got the better of No. 9 Ricky Robertson in their top-10 showdown. Venz’s 12-7 decision put No. 14 Nebraska (9-4, 7-2 Big Ten) back on top by three.
Wisconsin responded by way of Hunter Ritter who picked up a 9-6 win at 197 pounds to draw the team score back to even.
The Huskers grabbed the lead once and for all when David Jensen scored a pin at heavyweight, giving Nebraska a 12-6 lead at intermission.
That win sparked a five-match winning streak for the Huskers.
No. 19 Andrew Crone halted that run with an 11-3 major decision over No. 8 Tyler Berger. Crone scored 10 of his 13 points in the second period.
No. 20 Wisconsin (6-3, 3-3) heads to Champaign to take on No. 13 Illinois Sunday afternoon.
No. 14 Nebraska 24, No. 20 Wisconsin 10
165: No. 12 Isaiah White (N) dec. No. 6 Evan Wick, 7-3
174: Ryan Christensen (UW) dec. Beau Breske, 3-2
184: No. 7 Taylor Venz (N) dec. No. 9 Ricky Robertson, 12-7
197: Hunter Ritter (UW) dec. Eric Schultz, 9-6
HWT: David Jensen (N) p. Ben Stone, 1:33
125: Mitchell Maginnis (N) dec. Johnny Jimenez, 5-2
133: No. 19 Jason Renteria (N) dec. Jens Lantz, 11-4
141: No. 13 Chad Red Jr. (N) dec. Eli Stickley, 6-3
149: No. 10 Colton McCrystal (N) dec. Cole Martin, 7-4
157: No. 19 Andrew Crone (UW) maj dec. No. 8 Tyler Berger, 11-3
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