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Wrestling: Badgers Best Boilermakers in Barnburner

Wisconsin derailed Purdue in a back-and-forth, edge-of-your-seat dual meet Sunday afternoon.

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

Want some good news, Badgers fans? The wrestlers went to Holloway Gymnasium (talk about a lame name for a venue) on Sunday and came home with a 24-15 win.

The No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers now stand at 8-4 (2-3 B1G) while sending the No. 18 Purdue Boilermakers to a 5-8 (0-5 B1G) dual meet record.

It was everything you’d hope for in an evenly matched match, including heart attack-inducing scrambles, controversial calls, lead changes, comebacks (lots and lots of comebacks), and a Cinderella ending.

We’ll go in order of weight class which, fittingly, saves the best for last.


No. 2 Eric Barnett was awesome on defense in the first period, but so was his opponent, the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the land (why he went to Purdue, I’ll never understand). There was lots of action but no scoring in the 1st period. Barnett was on the bottom for the 2nd period.

He made a little error, which in a match against a guy like this is a huge error, and got put to his back. He was there for over a minute, battling to avoid the pin, which he did successfully - true grit. He would score a point, but could not get a takedown to stage a comeback against the Boilermaker, losing 4-1.

UW - 0, PU - 3


On paper, (No. 50) Nico Rivera should have destroyed his opponent, but he found himself down 7-0 after two periods. At this point, the whole dual meet was looking like a stinker, and I was about to jump into a FIRE THE COACH, FIRE THE A.D., FIRE EVERYONE rant. Rivera, however, had different thoughts as he, in the 3rd period, scored a three-point takedown.

He then, instead of cutting the guy loose and trying for another takedown, just sat there and rode him. “That’s not how you come back from a big deficit,” I (and probably everyone else) thought. Until Nico turned him on his back for 4 pts, sending the match into overtime (aka “sudden victory” - stupid name change I still can’t get used to...).

In the extra period, the two got into one of those crazy, cartoon-brawl-style scrambles where you can’t tell who’s doing what, with Nico eventually ending up on top to cap off a massive, 10-0 scoring run, finishing the match up 10-7 in the wild ride, come-from-behind win.

UW - 3, PU - 3


We saw both teams switch out their normal wrestlers, with UW sending out (No. 43 at 133) Zan Fugitt to wrestle up a weight against his Bollermaker foe. This was (I think) the last match Fugitt could wrestle and still keep his redshirt, so I don’t think we’ll see him again in an NCAA match this season.

If you hate refs, who, by the way, have blown a LOT of pretty easy calls recently, this was the match for you, as there was much to complain about. To contest a ref’s call, the coach can throw a brick (it’s soft).

You could have built a house for the 3rd Little Pig (...or a funk-influenced dance song for the Commodores) with the number of bricks the coaches threw in this one. The score see-sawed so much that a weeble-wobble would have had trouble keeping up with the current score. Let’s just say it ended with the wrong guy up 4-3.

UW - 3, PU - 6


At this point, you knew bonus points were going to be key, and No. 22 Joey Zargo’s match was the place to get them. Joey was up 6-1 after the 1st period, gave up some points, then got back up 11-4 halfway through the 3rd.

The old saying goes, you never want to win by 7 or 14 (because those are one below the line for the next higher number of team points; 8 is a major decision, and 15 is a tech fall). Mr. Mustache’s match ended up 11-5 for the UW.

A good win, but 2 points shy of bonus points. The cut on Zargo’s lip that gushed like a, uh, geyser (pro tip: don’t look it up; turns out there are a lot of NSFW ways to end that phrase...) in the 3rd period appeared to affect the flow of the match, giving the opponent a moment to regroup and Purdon’t give up bonus points (can I get a rimshot?).

UW - 6, PU - 6


In another double switcheroo in the normal lineups, the UW sent out (No. 68) Cody Goebel to wipe the Purdoodoo off the windshield (not an Awkwafina reference...).

Down 11-3 at the end of the 2nd period, it wasn’t looking good for the redshirt freshman. But, like Rivera above, he turned up the heat in the 3rd, using big takedowns to add 9 points to his score. Unlike Rivera, however, his opponent scored 3 in that same period, leaving the final 14-12 in favor of the railroaders. (UW - 6, PU - 9


Can No. 5 Dean Hamiti be any more impressive? When the match is so short - takedown, cradle, pin - that there’s almost nothing to write, he can just say, “You’re welcome.”

UW - 12, PU - 9


No. 12 Max Maylor was an easy pick for the victory, and likely bonus points, in his match. However, he didn’t look himself, giving up 3 takedowns to be down 9-2 after the 1st period.

He didn’t give up the ship, though, and fought back to: down 13-7 after the 2nd (still no hope, right?), down 15-10 in the 3rd (start pianissimo cymbal swell), then 16-13 (crescendo builds), then 16-16 (YES!!!!!) as time expired.

In overtime, Maylor got his 5th of 5 straight takedowns to emerge victorious (cymbals crash, somewhat-large drum membrane shatters, Al Michaels’ “miracles” call reverberates through your brain).

Even after all the crazy action so far, this 19-16 overtime win had to have been the biggest confidence—>disappointment—>faint hope—>exuberating hysteria roller coaster of emotions Badger fans could possibly experience.

UW - 15, PU - 9


In a very tame match, compared to everything else we’d seen today, No. 16 Shane Liegel methodically dismantled the Boilermaker.

The train-school foe, who redshirted at Wisconsin last year and was definitely out to show the Badgers what they’d lost, engaged in a little extracurricular activity when he couldn’t get anything going against our beloved Wisconsin native.

Liegel wasn’t having any of it; his relentless effort enabled him to come out on top of a big scramble and ride the foe hard for a nice 7-2 win for the Badgers.

UW - 18, PU - 9


The result of the dual meet was not yet sealed, however, as (No. 165 at 174) Luke Condon took the mat in cardinal and white (I like these uniforms best, with the white/light cammo uniforms as my second favorite).

Redshirting this year, Condon has picked up a very nice 9-2 record so far. Why he was wrestling here, up two weight classes? Well, that’s a story we’ll have to hear from head coach Chris Bono later this week (my guess: to get some B1G experience, and there weren’t any opportunities in the lineup until this weight).

Unfortunately, in his first B1G match, Luke caught his foot partway through a bold, big-move attempt early on, and, well, that made him easy fodder for a pin.

UW - 18, PU - 15


As a heavyweight, there’s less pressure if the result is determined before your match. As it stood, the entire dual meet was resting on (No. 155) Gannon Rosenfeld. Rosy the redshirt freshman has, as you might recall, won zero Big Ten and zero NCAA matches this season, going 1-11 so far.

If he gets pinned, Pee U wins 21-18. Even if he only loses a close decision, PUtrid would still end up at 18 team points. He’s been so close to winning that you can almost taste it, but he just hasn’t gotten over that bar yet. His opponent was an eminently lance-able Boil(ermaker).

Gannon got the first takedown, staking out a 3-0 lead, but that was short-lived as he was lucky to escape without being pinned, trailing 8-3 after the 1st period and looking like he got injured in the process. His shoulder was still in its socket, apparently, so he kept going, starting on top in the 2nd period. He put in the legs (I LOVE the legs; those moves lead to so many contortions) and, after a little fighting for position, executed a half-nelson that put the foe to his back.

Then, after getting near fall points, he adjusted his position, squeezed harder, and got the pin. The ~15 UW fans (mostly teammates and coaches) went bonkers, and the thousands viewing the feed woke up the wife from her Sunday afternoon nap with the cheering (not speaking from personal experience, of course). It was mass hysteria.

With the 24 - 15 win, the wrestlers gave a good news story to Badgers fans on Sunday and wrapped up a strong 2-0 weekend of Big Ten dual meets. I could have done without the heart attack, but this was about as fun and awesome as it gets. Comebacks, questionable refs, last-match stakes, first B1G appearances, lovable lug’s first B1G win - it was AWESOME!

Next action: Wisconsin will take on the Illinois Fighting Illini at high noon this Sunday, Feb 11, at the Field House in the last chance to see this season’s Badgers in Madison.