The No. 19-ranked University of Wisconsin wrestling team defeated Maryland Thursday evening in the season opener for Big Ten play at the UW Field House. Coming off of an impressive performance by the team’s rookies at the Cliff Keen Invitational, the Badgers (3-0) broke into an early lead over the Terrapins (3-2.)
Redshirt sophomore Eli Stickley stuck it to the Terrapins’ No. 12-ranked Ryan Diehl in the 141-pound category when the Badger scored an early takedown in the first bought followed by a second back play in the second period. In the third period, the Roadrunner Open champion secured a major decision for Wisconsin in a 14-1 result, upsetting the nationally ranked Terrapin.
“I went out there and wrestled my match and not his,” Stickley said. “And it was proven that I could get my shot, my turn.”
Stickley did not find that he would be facing nationally ranked Ryan Diehl until he stepped onto the mat for his first Big Ten battle of the season. The nationally ranked wrestler had been injured last week, and the Maryland alternate, Peter Tedesco, was scheduled to start in the category.
“I made a quick adjustment up top mentally, and I was very calm before the match just because I thought I was about to wrestle somebody else,” Stickley said.
In a freshman to freshman faceoff, Jens Lantz took three back points for the Badgers in the 133-pound weight class, and after a riding time of a minute and 10 seconds, Lantz committed to a 7-2 Wisconsin victory over Jhared Simmons.
NCAA Championship bid-winner, Andrew Crone, took down Maryland’s 157-pounder, Justin Alexander, adding another win to the redshirt senior’s record of nine wins and five losses. Crone defeated No. 15 Taleb Rahmani earlier in the season, and the Maryland saga left another major decision for Wisconsin.
No. 7-ranked Evan Wick made his debut in Big Ten play, winning his 165-pound matchup in a 13-3 major decision for the Badgers.
“It’s really relieving,” Wick said. “It’s something I’ve been anxious about for a whole year being here and I didn’t know I would react to it but I think I reacted very well.”
The six-foot-two redshirt freshman came in second place at the Cliff Keen Invitational last weekend, and went undefeated in all periods of the tournament hosted by Cal State-Bakersfield, showing promise for an NCAA Championship bid.
Just one seed away in the rankings at No. 8, three-time NCAA qualifier Ricky Robertson swept his opponent recruited from Alaska in a decisive 6-0 result.
Redshirt junior Ryan Christensen used two minutes and thirteen seconds to make a major decision of 13-2 for the Badgers.
“For me its really just embracing these moments and understanding that it’s the last ride,” Christensen said. “It’s always looking to score as many points as I can.”
The two-time NCAA qualifier used two minutes and thirty-two seconds of riding time to shut down the Terps in his final debut home match.
Sophomore Hunter Ritter ranked No. 19 took a stance in securing six points in only 40 seconds of riding time during his first bought. Ritter’s second round closed out Maryland with a 9-0 decision for the Badgers.
In another heavy impact play, the heavyweight match ended after just one minute and 11 seconds when No. 10 Youssif Hemida pinned UW’s Ben Stone to the ground. This defeat is inconsistent with the recent performances that Stone has been executing as a regular in Wisconsin’s starting lineup.
“On paper you could say we’re favored in quite a few ways, but you still got to perform,” said Associate Head Coach Trevor Brandvold. “It starts 0-0 every time, no mater who you’re wrestling.”
The Badgers are slated to face UW-Whitewater for an in-state dual Saturday at 1 p.m.