The Wisconsin Badgers community lost a friend, a student-athlete, and much more when wrestler Eli Stickley died on Thursday night after a car crash.
Stickley, an Urbana, Ohio, native who would have been a redshirt junior this upcoming season, wrestled at Wisconsin for three years, including an “unattached” year during the 2015–16 season. As a starter at 141 pounds during the 2017-18 campaign, he recorded a 21–14 mark and qualified for his first NCAA championships. Last season, he defeated three top-15 opponents.
The Rock Island Dispatch-Argus reported the details of the crash, which resulted in Stickley and a passenger being taken to Illini Hospital where the former was later pronounced dead.
Illinois State Police report that, at 8:19 p.m. Thursday, a 2004 black Nissan Frontier left westbound I-74 near mile marker 24, just south of the Andover exit in Henry County.
State police said the vehicle left the roadway, travelled into the right hand ditch, over-corrected and rolled across both westbound lanes of traffic. It came to rest on its passenger’s side in the passing lane of I-74.
Wisconsin’s athletic department released a statement on Stickley’s death on Friday:
Our hearts are heavy today. The entire Badger Athletics family extends its most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of junior Eli Stickley, a student-athlete with our wrestling team, who passed away last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with Eli’s family, friends, teammates and coaches.
In an article on Friday that also noted the Stickley family history with Wisconsin wrestling, the Wisconsin State Journal’s Todd Milewski spoke with new coach Chris Bono:
“The world lost a really good kid,” said Badgers coach Chris Bono, who took over the program in March.
When Bono made calls Thursday night to let his players know the news, he asked one whether there were any teammates with whom Stickley was especially close that needed extra help in the aftermath.
“He said, ‘Coach, I don’t think there was one guy on the team that ever had one problem with this guy,’” Bono said. “That’s the kind of kid he was.”
B5Q sends its deepest sympathies to Stickley’s family, friends, teammates, and all those who knew him.
A great friend, a dedicated athlete, an infectious smile, and also a member of our own committee that will be missed beyond measure. Please send your thoughts and prayers to all of our student athletes and those that cared deeply for Eli. https://t.co/zKQBFiuU01— Wisconsin SAAC (@UW_SAAC) July 6, 2018