The Wisconsin Badger’s wrestling team has a challenging weekend ahead as it goes east for four dual matches in two days. The No. 16 ranked Badgers will face two ranked squads in No. 14 Penn and No. 13 Hofstra, as well as Drexel and Princeton. It will mark the first time Wisconsin has faced Drexel, Penn and Princeton in the history of Wisconsin wrestling.
The Badgers are 3-0 in dual matches this season, with last weekend’s action seeing the Badgers prevail over No. 16 Northern Iowa 24-13 as well as over Northern Illinois 27-9. The Badgers have been lead by strong performances from sophomores Tom Clum and Ryan Flaherty.
Clum has an individual record of 8-2 this season and Flaherty has posed a team best record of 12-2 with four victories by technical fall.
This weekend’s trip will also be a homecoming for several Badger wrestlers. Ryan Button, Ralph DiNisco, Ed Gutnik and Matt Maciag are all New Jersey natives.
Wisconsin will begin their weekend in Philadelphia with a Friday afternoon match against Drexel. The Dragons, while not ranked, have a pair of nationally ranked wrestlers in No. 14 Rob Rebmann in the 125-pound class and No. 7 Chris Jones at 197. Both won their weight classes last weekend at the Cornell Invitational to lead the Dragons to a fourth-place finish. Wisconsin will be the first dual meet opponent for Drexel, and then the Badgers will head across Philadelphia to open Penn’s dual meet season.
The Quakers will carry a No. 14 national ranking into their evening match with Wisconsin at the Palestra in downtown Philadelphia. In their only other action this season, Quaker wrestlers won the title in three classes and also placed four runners-up to take second behind Hofstra at the Keystone Classic.
The Badgers will head into New Jersey Saturday afternoon to take on Princeton. Princeton has already had one dual this season, posting a victory over South Dakota State, 24-18. The Tigers also took fifth place in the Kutztown invitational last weekend.
The Badgers continue their East coast swing when they head to Long Island to take on No. 13 Hofstra in an evening matchup. Hofstra has seen mixed results so far this season, winning the Keystone Invitational, but losing their first dual match of the season 30-10, to No. 9 Nebraska.
Wisconsin will also find a familiar face on the Hofstra bench, as former UW wrestler Donnie Pritzlaff is an assistant coach for the Pride. Pritzlaff, a New Jersey native, was a back-to-back national champion at Wisconsin in 2000 and 2001 under coach Barry Davis.
Coach Davis is indeed optimistic about the Badger’s chances this weekend and this season.
“We have six NCAA qualifiers back and we just need those qualifiers to step up. If those guys can step up, we could have a pretty good year.”