At times, it may have been lost in all the excitement of the opening duals of the season but, freshmen were an interesting sub-plot in the Wisconsin wrestling team’s trip to San Diego last Friday.
UW topped Fresno State, Army, and Navy to begin the season 3-0 for the fourth time in as many seasons. The three-dual win streak saw the varsity debuts of redshirt-freshmen Jared Krattiger and Tyler Dow. Both were highly-ranked recruits from the Badger State during their high school days.
Krattiger got the first nod. He dropped a 6-5 decision to 2019 NCAA qualifier Jackson Hemauer of Fresno State. Hemauer began the season ranked No. 19 in the nation up a weight class at 184 pounds.
Dow got the call against No. 9 Ben Harvey of Army. The Stoughton High School product fell 4-2.
Despite a pair of losses, both Krattiger and Dow made an impression on head coach Chris Bono.
“They did a heck of a job. They should have won both matches, the way we looked at it,” Bono said during his weekly press conference. “I’m very encouraged at that weight class.”
Dow bumped up a weight and scored a 3-1 win over Andrew Buckley of Navy in the nightcap.
Almost as notable as the redshirt freshmen who wrestled was the pair of true freshmen who didn’t.
Both Eric Barnett (125) and Peter Christensen (197) we part of the 15-wrestler contingent that made the trek to California, but neither saw the mat.
Barnett’s counterpart, redshirt senior Michael Cullen, posted a 2-1 record Friday.
However, just as last season, 197 was a struggle. Taylor Watkins, a redshirt senior who transferred from Missouri, suffered a trio of losses.
[At] 197, we went 0-3. [We] have a lot of work to do there,” Bono said.
A year ago, Wisconsin went 2-13 in dual meets at the 197-pound weight class and were outscored in team points 54-7. The 47-point margin in team points was, far and away, the largest negative gap at any of the 10 weight classes.
When asked about his team’s depth, Bono offered up this tidbit:
“We’ve got a lot of guys in redshirt. Hopefully we don’t have to use them,” Bono said. “But we are willing to use them if we don’t see some productivity at some of these weight classes. We’ve got some highly-talented freshman in there that are just chomping at the bit to wrestle.”
This weekend offers another chance for some of the younger guys to make a statement.
“As far as our freshman, these guys are all headed to Iowa State this weekend,” Bono said. “So I’ll get a real good glimpse at a tough tournament where I see where these true freshman are and we can see what we do with our lineup down the road.”
While Bono certainly didn’t commit to anything during his weekly presser, he made it known that opportunities are available for those willing to seize them.
“Right now, with the stage of this team, I’m looking for the ten best guys,” Bono said. “If we have some freshman in there that can contribute at the national tournament and look to be All-Americans, and they can find their way into the lineup, we’re going to wrestle them.”
“We have a great tournament team. So anybody that can help us at the Big Ten and national tournament and put us as high as possible there, they might be out there.”
Fresh rankings from Flo
FloWrestling released a fresh set of rankings this week. As a team, the Badgers are tied with Oklahoma State for fifth in the nation.
Five Badgers earned national rankings at their individual weight classes.
Seth Gross maintained his grip on the No. 1 spot at 133 pounds. He is also tops in the pound-for-pound rankings.
Evan Wick held steady in the third spot at 165 while No. 11 Tristan Moran held serve at 141.
Trent Hillger (285) slid one spot to No. 7, while Cole Martin (149) fell two places to No. 13.