The Wisconsin Badgers wrestling team had an exciting and successful weekend at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships in Lincoln, Neb. As a team, the Badgers finished in eighth, with 68.0 points (for reference, seventh place Nebraska had 75.5 while first place Michigan had 143.0) but there were plenty of outstanding individual performances.
First and foremost is Austin Gomez, who won the Big Ten title at 149 pounds, by beating the seventh seed, the third seed and then upsetting the top-seeded Sammy Sasso from Ohio State in the finals. Gomez was named Co-Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships with Michigan’s Myles Amine. Gomez was also named to the 2022 All-Big Ten Team.
Gomez’s title was the first for the Badgers since Isaac Jordon won a Big Ten Championship at 165 pounds in 2016 and the first overall under head coach Chris Bono.
Obviously Gomez qualified for the NCAA Championships, and he will be joined by, at a minimum, six of his teammates. Here is who else qualified:
- Eric Barnett, 125 pounds, finished second at Big Tens
- Garrett Model, 157 pounds, finished seventh at Big Tens
- Dean Hamiti, 165 pounds, finished third at Big Tens
- Chris Weiler, 184 pounds, finished twelfth at Big Tens
- Braxton Amos, 197 pounds, finished tenth at Big Tens
- Trent Hillger, 285 pounds, finished ninth at Big Tens
- Kyle Burwick (133), Joseph Zargo (141) and Andrew McNally (174) will have to wait and see if they get a wild-card bid to the NCAAs.
At the end of the tournament, conference awards were handed out and it should come as little surprise that Hamiti was named Freshman of the Year for the Big Ten. He had a 24-2 record on the season, only losing to Iowa’s Alex Marinelli (the B1G champ at 165) twice, and was downright dominant in many of his matches. To win his third place match, Hamiti had to beat top-seeded Carson Karchla of Ohio State, so he definitely did things the hard way.
Barnett finished in second at 125 pounds, losing 12-4 to Michigan’s Nick Suriano. He improved his season record to 16-3 and will be looking to earn All-American status for the second straight season in Detroit.
Up next: The NCAA Tournament will be held in Detroit, Mich., from March 17 to March 19, 2022.