The No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers Wrestling program came up short vs No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers 28–9 on Sunday at the UW Field House. Coach Bono asked after the match gave his blunt – yet direct assessment.
“The fight is there, the effort is there, our young guys are getting better, ’33 (133 pounds) is getting better, heavyweight (285 pounds) is getting better. Liegel was in a dogfight, you know, this is where we are.
Our guys that were supposed to win went out and won, and our guys that weren’t supposed to win battled hard, and we almost had a few that we shouldn’t have won. They are getting better. Every week they’re getting a little better.”
Our fight never stops
Thanks for packing the Field House tonight and being in our corner. Back on the mat soon … pic.twitter.com/sgibJhz7kb
— Wisconsin Wrestling (@BadgerWrestling) January 29, 2024
Let’s take a look at each weight class and see how the Badgers performed vs. No. 6 Nebraska.
No. 3 Eric Barnett vs. No. 12 Caleb Smith
EB stood tall once again and secured a tough win vs a great competitor. Going toe-to-toe for seven minutes of hell with Smith – Barnett was able to secure the decision win.
— Big Ten Wrestling (@B1GWrestling) January 28, 2024
Barnett won the match by a 5–3 decision.
Nicolar Rivera vs. No. 19 Jacob Van Dee
Nico wrestled his tail off and was riding in high and wrestling confident after his recent MAN OF THE MAT vs Michigan State and newly minted NWCA coaches poll ranking. Van Dee just proved to be too much and Rivera couldn’t secure a takedown for the win.
Rivera lost the match by a 6–4 decision.
Felix Lettini vs. No. 7 Brock Hardy
Our guy Letti’ continues to run through a gauntlet at 141 pounds but never backs down or shies away from a scrap. He gave the All-American from Nebraska all he had.
Lettini lost the match 19–3 (technical fall).
Julian George vs. No. 1 Ridge Lovett
With No. 22 Joseph Zargo on the shelf with a sickness – Julian George made his home debut for the Badgers. Unfortunately, that’s not the best spot to get your first home appearance when you are facing the No. 1 dawg in the 149 pound weight class.
Despite the loss by pin – George wrestled very hard and looked to be a great adversary for Lovett. Not the outcome he wanted but a great learning experience going up against the current No. 1 and top of the food chain at 149 pounds.
George lost this match by fall.
Luke Mechler vs. Ethan Stiles
Tough, defensive, physical match. I could copy/paste that for all recaps for Mechler but it will continue to ring true. The Wisconsin Badgers 157 pounder battled but couldn’t secure a much needed takedown to get the win.
Mechler lost the match by a 4–1 decision.
No. 5 Dean Hamiti vs. No. 18 Antrell Taylor
These two great competitors fought a tough match with great zest from both of them. After a few hands in the face calls against Taylor – you could see Hamiti was getting annoyed by it. Following the conclusion of the match – Taylor and Hamiti had some words.
“I grabbed his head a little bit at the end, a little outlet of my emotion, maybe I shouldn’t have done it.” DJ is always class and respectful but I for one (and the fans cheering) love the smoke!
These two men are elite and will almost certainly meet again at the Big Ten tournament at some point will not forget this match.
SIGN. ME. UP!
Hamiti won this match by a 7–2 decision.
No. 12 Max Maylor vs. No. 33 Bubba Wilson
In what seemed to be a theme on Sunday – Maylor was in another close scrap with Wilson and held strong after a late Wilson flurry in the third period.
Maylor won this match by a 4–2 decision.
No. 16 Shane Liegel vs. No. 3 Lenny Pinto
This match was one of the better matches of the day despite the score and outcome. These men were very physical and traded many collar ties that would put other grown men in the hospital. Liegel came up short on the scorecard but proved that he is close. Like Hamiti and Taylor – I can foresee Liegel and Pinto mixing it up again at the Big Ten tournament.
Liegel lost this match by a 7–2 decision.
Josh Otto vs. No. 15 Silas Allred
Another dual and another week I am impressed by Otto in a loss. He just fights. He has the heart of a lion and gives everything he has. Wrestling up two weight classes isnt something many would even try and Otto continues to lay it out there dual after dual after dual.
Win, lose, or draw – Josh Otto has earned our respect. Salute, brother!
Otto lost the match 19–4 (technical fall).
Gannon Rosenfeld vs. Nash Hutmacher
The Gannon Ball was so.. damn.. close! Rosenfeld showed so much quickness for the heavyweight division but was just unable to secure enough points to get over the hump.
Despite his record, he has been so close to getting wins in a handful of matches. He is coming – there is no doubt in his mind. Coach Bono agrees and give a vote of confidence for the young heavyweight.
“He’s our guy – that’ll be our guy the rest of the way.”
For Rosenfeld, it’s more about the mental side right now and attacking his opponent with a strategy.
“I been going up this slope for the last three weeks, Reader (Associate Head Coach Jon Reader), especially Reader, has been helping me get more of a game plan. At the beginning of the year I was just going out there and just wrestling but now I am actually taking a much way smarter approach to it, and week to week its getting better every time.
I just feel way more smooth in my attacks and way better at my hand-fighting and I think that’s the biggest part. That’s what we have been working on – better hand-fighting and making smarter calls when it comes to shots. Picking and choosing the shots that you want from the hand-fight and its obviously still a work in progress – keep climbing that mountain. But I think today was a good showing that the plan is working.”
Rosenfeld lost this match by a 19–14 decision.
What’s Next for Wisconsin Badgers Wrestling?
Wisconsin hosts Northwestern on Friday 2/2 at 7PM at the UW Field House.
Stay tuned to Badger Notes for coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers wrestling program and their upcoming competitions!
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