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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Howe eyes perfect ending

Wisconsin sophomore Andrew Howe will be the No. 1 seed in the 165 lbs. weight class at the NCAA wrestling championships.[/media-credit]

Last year, Andrew Howe was the runner-up in the 165 lb. weight class at the NCAA Championships. This weekend, fresh off a Big Ten individual title, he’s hoping to get the five wins he needs to win it all and finish an undefeated season.

After a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich. two weeks ago, the No. 14 Wisconsin wrestling team is sending seven wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in Omaha, Neb.

Last season, UW finished ninth as a team at the NCAAs, and had five wrestlers compete, led by Howe’s runner-up finish.


The seven Badgers include two 2010 Big Ten individual title winners, Howe and Trevor Brandvold.

“They both wrestled really well, but at this point that’s already behind,” associate head coach Donny Pritzlaff said.

Conference-rival and 2010 Big Ten team champion Iowa will offer the most competition at the tournament. The top-ranked Hawkeyes are sending 10 to the NCAA Championships.

“Iowa is heavily favored,” Pritzlaff said. “For them to lose, they have to slip up, but anything can happen.”

The Badgers are seasoned competitors in the Big Ten. They took third at the Big Ten Championships as a team last weekend, behind first-place Iowa and runner-up Minnesota, the No. 5 team in the nation.

“It’s by far the toughest wrestling conference,” Howe said. “You have a tough match every single time you go out against a Big Ten guy, so it really makes you a better wrestler.”

Senior Kyle Ruschell will make his fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships. Ruschell was 25-2 in the regular season and finished third at the Big Ten Championships at 149 lbs.

Four Badgers will be making their first NCAA Championships appearances. Redshirt freshmen Tyler Graff and Cole Schmitt each had winning seasons at 133 lbs. and 141 lbs. respectively. Graff went 26-7 on the season and finished fourth at the Big Ten Championship while Schmitt finished fifth and was 20-16 on the season.

Sophomore Travis Rutt placed fifth at the Big Ten Championship at 184 lbs. He is 16-11 on the season, and this will be his NCAA debut as well.

Junior Eric Bugenhangen will compete at heavyweight. He finished fourth in the Big Ten Championship and will face No. 1 seed David Zabriskie of Iowa State.

“Sometimes people look at the Big Ten season as being tough and wearing guys out,” Pritzlaff said, “I think it just gets them prepared, ready for these next three days.”

The Badgers did some fine-tuning this week to prepare for the weekend competition. Pritzlaff said the team focused on specific skills and positions. They also prepared for specific opponents from outside the conference.

Pritzlaff said many of the teams outside of the Big Ten are a lot less physical and more technical. He believes the Big Ten season and championship has prepared his team to be battle ready.

In addition to fine tuning, training this week included mental preparation, an important aspect of the process.

“At this point it’s kind of keeping them fresh and mentally getting them ready for the grind that’s going to start Thursday,” Pritzlaff said.

Junior Trevor Brandvold agreed. He said he’s been mentally preparing for the weekend by focusing on the NCAA Championships a lot. On the mat, he spent practices working on his offense and timing.

“There’s a lot of tough guys,” Brandvold said of the upcoming matches.

The 2010 Big Ten Champion is making his third NCAA appearance. Brandvold is 20-3 on the year and has won his last 13 matches.

Howe also stressed the importance of mental preparation. The sophomore said he set two goals for himself coming into Wisconsin. He accomplished his first last weekend with his Big Ten individual title win and will focus this weekend on his second goal, a national title. Attaining that second goal would improve his record from 32-0 to 37-0.

“Hopefully I can just wrestle more freely and have a good time out there this weekend,” Howe said.

Howe, the No. 1 seed in his weight class said head coach Barry Davis has been fired up for the weekend. Davis told the team to have a good time and remember all the work they’ve put in through the season. Pritzlaff agreed, noting training for the NCAA’s is not just season-long.

“Those seven guys that are going deserve to be there,” Pritzlaff said. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them, and now it’s time to reap the benefits of all the hard work they’ve put in.”

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