clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wrestling: Badgers outlast Illini 20-18 on Senior Day

Redshirt freshman sends seniors out on top with last-match heroics in the final home dual meet

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Mark Stewart / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The No. 23 (dual meet) Wisconsin Badgers (9-4, 3-3 B1G) edged past the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-9, 0-6) 20-18 in an electrifying performance before thousands of fans on Senior Day.

Talking to the crowd assembled in Bucky’s Balcony at the Field House on Sunday prior to the dual meet win, which marked his 50th as Wisconsin’s head coach, Chris Bono expressed his deep appreciation and love for the outgoing seniors and for all the fans who supported them.

On to the action!

125 pounds

No. 4 Eric Barnett can now be called “The Mood Maker” as he set the stage for a night of excitement with a bang at 125, winning 8-0 and pushing his record to 20-3.

UW 4, ILL 0

133 pounds

In a battle of NCAA-bubble wrestlers, Nico Rivera fell to the No. 30 wrestler at 133 in an 11-5 decision. If you’re gonna lose, show some stuff to build on and make sure it’s by 7 or less - check and check.

UW 4, ILL 3

141 pounds

I thought Felix Lettini had a chance at 141 against another ranked Illini (No. 26), and he was within striking distance after two periods, but ended up getting tech’ed 23-7.

UW 4, ILL 8

149 pounds

In the 149 matchup, No. 22 Joey Zargo beat his opponent 9-7 the last time they wrestled.

This time, Z-man poured on the points, clearly going for a tech fall victory to get the extra team points.

He scored takedown after takedown, but the other guy didn’t give up, and Joey finished just two points shy in his 19-6 win.

UW 8, ILL 8

157 pounds

Shaping up to be a barn burner at 2 wins apiece, with the score tied, you knew every match was going to count. Wisconsin needed to lose small and win big.

At 157, Luke Mechler was tied 0-0 after one, down 1-0 after two, and tied 1-1 after the final buzzer.

An overtime ending was fitting for the coin-toss matchup, but it landed tails, ending in a 4-1 loss.

UW 8, ILL 11

165 pounds

Wisconsin needed a win and, sure enough, 165-pounder No. 5 Dean Hamiti was up next. His opponent was a likely NCAA qualifier, but the NCAA’s third-most-dominant wrestler took him down again and again before sticking his shoulders to the mat for a pin, putting the Badgers back in the lead with the much-needed bonus points.

See how the other guy thought he had a leg, but Hamiti turned that into a pin? Man, that guy is fun to watch!

UW 14, ILL 11

174 pounds

At 174, No. 12 Max Maylor was up against No. 8, who has proven to be a bad matchup for him in the past.

He must have worked on something in practice, because it was not a slaughter, with Max falling 8-5.

Despite the loss, the content was positive enough that I wouldn’t mind them meeting again at the Big Ten and/or NCAA tournaments.

UW 14, ILL 14

184 pounds

All tied up again, we saw another ranked-vs-ranked matchup at 184, with No. 16 Shane Liegel taking on No. 31 from the Illini.

True to form, Shane wrestled tough and gritty, not giving up anything. He couldn’t get any offense going, though, so it was 0-0 halfway through the 3rd period.

The throng of Badger faithful watched with bated breath as they watched Shane wiggle away for a one-point escape and fend off desperation attacks before the final buzzer rang.

Holding on, the graduate student and Wisconsin-native Badger went out with a 1-0 win in his last performance in Madison.

UW 17, ILL 14

197 pounds

Josh Otto, another last-time-ever-at-the-Field-House Badger, has been a true team man his whole career, wrestling up at 197 this year.

I thought this might be a toss-up, and Josh might be able to seal the dual meet win, but I underestimated the opponent and the good guy lost 12-3.

UW 17, ILL 18

285 pounds

Two dual meets in a row now have come down to the heavyweight match.

Gannon Rosenfeld got over the “win” hump with last-match heroics last week against Purdue, and the redshirt freshman took the mat knowing his win or loss would flip the result of the dual meet.

After a nice takedown, he got reversed. Figuring his 3-2 lead was not going to be enough, Rosie kept up the attack, getting a couple more takedowns and riding his opponent like (...fill in the blank yourself; I’ve got direction to tone it down).

He won 12-6. The crowd went wild. Wisconsin won a see-saw battle. Same old, same old.

UW 20, ILL 18

Wow! This one was as close as everyone thought. It included multiple lead changes, overtime, one-point matches, and last-bout-dramatics. The Badgers finished with a smidgeon more fight than the Fighting Illini. Whew!

Having added to hockey’s “good news for Wisconsin sports” stories over the weekend, the Badgers face a tough final three dual meets before the Big Ten tournament.

Next weekend Wisconsin travels to the No. 11 Minnesota Gophers (10-2, 5-2 B1G) on Friday and the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2, 5-2 B1G) on Sunday.