The Wisconsin wrestling team kicked off its Big Ten season in convincing fashion, defeating Indiana 26-12. While the score was impressive, the outcome could have been even more one-sided, as Wisconsin lost two matches by giving up points late in the period. The win leaves Wisconsin with a 14-2 overall record heading into Friday’s pivotal match with rival Minnesota.
“We had a Big Ten win, which is good, but we’re much better than we show,” Davis said. “We’re not where we should be. We shouldn’t be on top of our game now because that’s where you want to be at in March. Going into next week with Minnesota and Penn State we’re going to have to wrestle a lot better.”
Wisconsin came out strong, winning seven of the first eight matches before Indiana’s Pat Degain quickly changed things with a 52-second pin of Wisconsin’s Brady Reinke.
The most entertaining match of the evening may have come in the 133-pound class, with sophomore Ed Gutnik pinning Indiana’s Nick Spatola in 5:41. Gutnik fell behind 3-5 after the first period and was behind 7-8 going into the final two minutes before reversing Spatola and finishing him off.
In the 125-pound match, sophomore Tom Clum continued his recent success with a win over Joe Dubuque 7-4. Dubuque had an impressive record of 21-2 heading into the match. With the win, Clum improves to 19-3. His 19 wins ties Ryan Flaherty (19-7) for first on the UW squad.
While Clum and Gutnik picked up big wins for Wisconsin, 141-pounder Tyler Laudon and heavyweight Jarreck Horton gave up points in the final seconds of their matches. Laudon was handling No. 5-ranked Coyte Cooper before giving up four points on a reversal and near fall with eight seconds to go in the second period.
“We lost at least two matches we should have won, if not three,” Davis said. “Laudon wrestles a seven-minute match of which he wrestles 6:52. He gave six points up in that match he never should have gave up.”
Outside of the two last-minute defeats and Brady Reinke’s loss at 197 pounds, the Wisconsin wrestlers were able to ride their opponents for a majority of the matches. Sibling combinations proved lethal for Wisconsin as the Turners and Flahertys combined to go 4-0 on the day. The most lopsided match came at 165 pounds with Kelly Flaherty taking an 11-0 lead into the second period. 47 seconds later, the match ended by technical fall to give Flaherty a 17-0 victory in 3:47.
Brother Ryan had a tougher time with Andy Rios, but escaped with a 9-7 victory.
The Turner brothers never trailed in their matches, earning a pair of dominant victories. Tony Turner moved up to 149 pounds to fill the void left by Cole Wunnicke and won 7-1. Turner rode his opponent for 3:05 of the match. Brother Tyler picked up his 18th win of the year, defeating Matt Cooper 6-2.
The loss leaves Indiana with a 15-4 record. Wisconsin will next face Minnesota Friday in Minneapolis before facing Penn State at home Sunday. Minnesota boasts a No. 12 ranking while Penn State is ranked No. 6.
Davis was pleased with his team’s effort against Indiana, but he said improvements will have to be made. He stressed the need to win close matches and to not give up late-period points if the Badgers want to be competitive in the next week.