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Inside Badgers star Dean Hamiti’s rise to the Top 3

Hamiti has been a riser since since the start of the wrestling season.

Syndication: The Des Moines Register Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

The No. 27 Wisconsin Badgers wrestling team, according to the NWCA Coaches’ Poll, had their hands full the last two weekends, with four conference match-ups, two weekends in a row.

First, two weeks ago saw the Badgers travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans on Friday, January 26, before they returned home to the UW Field House against the No. 6 ranked Nebraska.

This shaped up to be one of the more consequential weekends in college wrestling, but it had even more importance to one weight class in particular: 165 lbs.

No. 5 ranked Dean Hamiti, Wisconsin’s two-time All-American, continued his defense of last year’s 165lb Big Ten Tournament Championship on Sunday, taking down Nebraska up-and-comer, redshirt freshman Antrell Taylor, 7-2.

The Friday before, Hamiti wrestled against Caleb Fish, a rematch of the Michigan State Open from November. Fish mounted a stronger outing, but Hamiti proved to be too much for Fish again, winning 5-3, in a decision that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

Hamiti, whose name has the emphasis on the ‘Ham’, improved his overall record that weekend to 18-1, and remained undefeated in the Big Ten Conference (8-0). However, there were significant match-ups that impacted Hamiti’s current ranking.

Two-time NCAA Champ and current No. 1 Keegan O’Toole, undefeated on the season at 14-0, led his third-ranked Missouri Tigers into Ithaca, NY, to take on the No. 9 Cornell Big Red.

Waiting for O’Toole was No. 2 ranked Julian Ramirez, who had amassed an impressive 13-1 record, only losing to upstart Oklahoma State transfer Izzak Olejnik, who defeated Ramirez 4-2 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in December.

Not to be outdone, 2021 National Champion (at 157) and current No. 3 David Carr and the sixth-ranked Iowa State Cyclones headed to Stillwater, OK, to meet up with the fourth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The previously mentioned Olejnik, ranked No. 4 according to Intermat, had also accumulated an outstanding record of 17-1, falling only to three-time NCAA qualifier Peyton Hall of West Virginia.

Hamiti sits right behind these four wrestlers. However, there is room for optimism, considering Hamiti’s previous record versus two of those four.

Against Ramirez and Olejnik, Hamiti has had significant success, going 7-1 against these two, including 3-0 vs Ramirez, and 3-1 vs Olejnik.

This past weekend, February 2-4, UW hosted Northwestern at home on Friday, February 2, and then visited West Lafayette, IN, for a dual against Purdue.

Hamiti extended his B1G record to 9-0 after Northwestern’s Maxx Mayfield had to injury default at the 2:10 mark of the first period, in Wisconsin’s 30-12 hometown victory.

The streak continued to 10-0 in the B1G, and 20-1 overall, when Hamiti visited Purdue University and matched up against Stony Buell. Hamiti caught Buell early in a DJ Hammer-style cradle (check the 4:51 mark) and got the Badgers back into the match en route to a 24-15 win.

The Coaches’ Poll has been optimistic for Hamiti, who now sits at number three in the country. But we all know polls only prove on paper. Hamiti’s going to have to continue to prove it on the mat.

Wisconsin has Illinois this weekend at home in the UW Field House on Sunday, February 11, at 12:00 P.M. CT.