After two years waiting in the wings, redshirt sophomore Ben Stone is now the starting heavyweight for the Wisconsin wrestling team.
Stone came to UW as an accomplished prep wrestler. During his time at Cumberland (Wis.) High School he accumulated 140 wins, the second most of any grappler in school history, and broke the program record for single-season wins on two different occasions.
He was a three-time state qualifier who found the podium twice, placing third his junior year before winning it all as a senior.
As is common, Stone went through a growth period during his redshirt freshman season. He posted a 14-12 record while wrestling unattached.
“I wish I could go meet myself when I first came here. Everyone thinks they are top dog coming out of high school,” Stone said. “Obviously, I’m very proud of my accomplishments. But if I were to wrestle myself from back in freshman year, it wouldn’t even be close.”
The following season brought marked improvement. Stone went 11-3 on the year. The high point of the campaign came during his dual meet debut. He pinned No.16 Jacob Kasper of Duke in 1:18 to help the Badgers to a 25-17 win over the Blue Devils.
With the proper focus, a year of experience can go a long way.
“I’ve just learned how to push myself mentally and get into scrambles,” Stone said. “Positioning is huge.”
Last season, Stone had the benefit of working with former Wisconsin heavyweight Connor Medbery. A four-time NCAA qualifier and three-time All-American, Medbery capped his college career by finishing as national runner-up in 2017.
“Connor gave me that perfect template of what to be. The guy did amazing things on the mat and off the mat,” Stone said. “I was able to sit back and get a passenger seat view of what it takes to become a national championship-caliber wrestler, the extra work it takes, how you eat, how you manage your time. Nobody else gets that and I was able to. So I know I have to mirror what he did.”
Throughout his two-plus seasons in Madison, Stone has seen a variety of training partners. While each brings a unique style and strengths to the table, lack of continuity sometimes presents its own challenges. That’s where the coaches come in.
“People change in the room, but I find the one constant is our coaching staff,” Stone said. “There are a lot of things that will change, even outside of the wrestling room. Things in school, things in social life, things are always changing. But the coaches keep you accountable for that consistency. They have your specific drills, no matter who it’s with.”
Now it’s Stone’s turn to shine. He hopes to earn some national success of his own.
“Get on the podium (at the NCAA Tournament), that’s the goal all season,” said Stone. “We have dual season. We have pre-dual season. But we’re focused on March. That’s when it counts.”
Though his objectives have grown throughout the years, methodical, steady training remains the key.
“I have to start focusing now, setting the goal that I’m wrestling for March. Every day I have to be mentally there and I have to get better,” Stone said. “I can’t take any drops down. Heavyweight is a tough weight class. If I want to get to the podium, every day in practice I have to get a little bit better.”
Stone and the No.20 Badgers open the dual meet portion of their schedule Friday night as they take on No.23 Pittsburgh and host Cal State-Bakersfield as part of a tri-dual.
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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