The Wisconsin wrestling team (10-5, 3-5 Big Ten) hosted two inter-conference opponents over the weekend. Heading into the weekend there was much excitement surrounding the Badgers, who had the chance to upset No. 2 Penn State (10-2, 7-1) — a team who has won eight of the last nine NCAA team titles.
Yet the Badgers, after falling to the Nittany Lions Friday, were on the receiving end of a major conference upset Saturday.
Friday, freshman 125 Eric Barnett got things started off in a promising way for the Badgers with a dominant 4–0 decision victory over Penn State’s Brandon Meredith. Barnett came out fast, as he was looking for bonus points with an attempted inside trip and throws.
Next was arguably the match-up of the night on paper. No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State was coming off a week of upsetting the No. 2 wrestler in the country, Austin Desanto of Iowa, and was set to face off against No. 1 Seth Gross. In fact, Desanto gave Gross his only loss on the season.
In the first period, Bravo-Young got in deep on a head inside sweep-single shot. Gross countered in impressive style with a move Penn State has become notorious for over the years, the “spladle.” Gross scored the takedown and two back points before giving up a reversal. On the effort of two more escape points, Gross scraped by with a close decision of 6–5.
No. 4 Tristan Moran looked off and dropped a 14–1 major decision to No. 2 Nick Lee. Next, unranked Jarod Verkleeren upset the Badgers’ No. 13 Cole Martin by a 3-2 decision.
Garrett Model got the start for the Badgers at 157. Model showed some great effort as he put on a takedown clinic in a 13–3 dismantling of Penn State’s Bo Pipher. This would be the Badgers last victory of the night as they headed into the break winning 10–7.
No. 4 Evan Wick dropped a major decision 8–0 to the nation’s top 165, Vincenzo Joseph. Jared Krattiger had a hard task as he had to wrestle former NCAA individual champion and No. 1 174 in the nation Mark Hall. Hall recorded a fall over Krattiger to secure yet another victory for the Nittany Lions.
No. 22 Johnny Sebastian wrestled a close match against No. 9 Aaron Brooks but ended up losing a 3–2 decision. No. 18 Shakur Rasheed of Penn State took down Taylor Watkins 6–0. The Badgers elected to forfeit the heavyweight match to lose by a final match score of 29–10.
The Badgers headed into Sunday with hopes to rebound from Friday’s loss. The unranked Michigan State Spartans (7-9, 2-7) looked like an easy win on paper as they only have four ranked wrestlers, only one of which is in the top 10 in the nation.
Barnett opened the duel with a 6–2 decision, showing he’s an opener the Badgers can rely on as he is still undefeated in Madison. In an interesting side note, Eric Barnett — a three-time state champion — is undefeated in Madison since his freshman state tournament in 2016.
No. 1 Gross continued his dominance with a 13–2 major decision. Dominic Dentino surprisingly got the start over No. 4 Tristan Moran at 141. Dentino unfortunately dropped a 16–5 major decision.
Martin put the Badgers further in front with a 7–2 decision. Model looked to continue his hot streak from Friday but unfortunately dropped a 12–8 decision to No. 24 Jake Tucker. Yet, the Badgers were winning 10-7 through five bouts despite a few disappointing finishes in the duel.
Wick got back on track with a resounding 10–2 major decision victory. Krattiger, unfortunately, gave up a fall at 174 to No. 23 Layne Malczewski.
Sebastian was looking for a victory to project himself higher in the rankings against the wrestler in the NCAA with arguably the best hair, No. 9 Cameron Caffey. Sebastian ultimately dropped the 6–2 decision.
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Coach Bono selected freshman Peter Christensen for the start at 197. The highly touted recruit has still been looking for a signature win this season, and No. 18 Nick May of the Spartans looked like a promising opportunity. Christensen had it tied up late into the third period at 4–4 but gave up a last-second takedown to lose 6–5.
It was 19–14 heading into the final bout of the evening, putting pressure of needing a pin to give the Badgers the team victory over the Spartans. No. 4 Trent Hillger gutted out a 9–2 victory, but the Badgers ultimately fell short by a final score of 19–17. Following a lost chance to upset the No. 2 Nittany Lions, the Badgers gave up an upset themselves to an unranked Michigan State team.
The Badgers are back in action at home Sunday at 3 p.m. as they welcome the No. 17 Michigan Wolverines (6-4, 5-2) to the UW Fieldhouse. Catch the action in person or on BTN.