The Badger wrestling team will kick off its 2004 Big Ten season against Indiana Friday night at the Fieldhouse. The non-conference season saw Wisconsin go 13-2 while picking up two victories against Purdue at the Virginia Duals. Not only has Wisconsin won nine of its last 10, but it has managed to earn a No. 13 ranking, according to Intermatwrestle.
Indiana will enter the Fieldhouse with a 15-3 record and fresh off winning its own invitational. Despite a stellar record, Indiana comes into the match unranked. The last time these two teams met, Wisconsin ran away with a 33-6 victory. This time around Indiana boasts some of the top wrestlers in the nation and will be determined to make life difficult for Wisconsin.
At 141 pounds, Indiana brings in seventh-ranked Coyte Cooper. Wisconsin?s co-captain Tyler Laudon will likely match up with the 26-1 Cooper. Last year Cooper was 38-5, while placing just outside All-America status at the national championships. Over the past few years, Cooper has been Indiana?s most consistent and dominant wrestler.
The matchup of the evening will be at 125 pounds when Indiana?s 19th-ranked Joseph Dubuque faces off with 17th-ranked Tom Clum of Wisconsin. In Dubuque?s sophomore season, he compiled a 23-5. His season was cut short just before the Big Ten championships after suffering a concussion in a match against Minnesota.
Another equally intriguing matchup will come at 174 pounds when Wisconsin?s Ralph Denisco (No. 12 ranked) matches up with Indiana?s Brady Richardson (No. 13 ranked). Richardson has more wins at the start of the Big Ten season than he did all of last year. His record of 21-5 is a great improvement over his record of 18-11 a year ago. A proven winner in the Big Ten going 3-3 last year, Richardson will give co-Captain Denisco one of his tougher matches thus far.
The matchup at 197 pounds will be an epic rematch of a match at last year?s Big Ten championships that paved the way for Deforest?s Lee Kraemer to qualify for the NCAA championships.
In the wrestlebacks of last year?s Big Ten Championships, Kraemer and Indiana?s Pat DeGain squared off in a match that would send the winner to the national championships and the loser home. DeGain suffered an ankle injury earlier in the tournament and lost a 2-4 in sudden death. Overall, Degain was 29-7 last year and is 20-3 this year.
For the first time in years, Wisconsin finds itself near wrestling heavyweights Minnesota and Iowa in the national rankings. Iowa is ranked 10th while Minnesota is 12th.
Wisconsin will face Indiana at 7 p.m. at the Fieldhouse.