B1G Finals | Badgers tie for 8th, qualify six to NCAA Championships
Abigail Ruckdashel | Wisconsin Wrestling Online | March 5, 2017
(Bloomington, IN) The Wisconsin Badgers placed four wrestlers during the final round to tie for 8th place at the 2017 Big Ten Championships held in Simon-Skjodt Assembly Hall on the Indiana University Campus.
Six Badgers automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, claiming spots on the Big Ten podium. Connor Medbery (R SR) placed 2nd. Isaac Jordan (R Sr) took 4th. Ryan Christensen (R So) took 6th. Ricky Robertson (R Jr) took 5th, and Cole Martin (R Fr) took 7th. Redshirt freshman Hunter Ritter took 8th.
Martin and Ritter earned for their first NCAA bid along with sophomore Ryan Christensen. Robertson qualified for his third, and Jordan and Medbery qualified for their fourth.
Hunter Ritter entered with the eighth seed and went 2-3 on the weekend at 184 lbs. He opened his first Big Ten Tournament pinning ninth seeded Mitch Sliga (R Jr) from Northwestern. He then faced top seeded and ranked Bo Nickal (R So) from Penn State. Nickal returned the favor pinning Ritter. Ritter bounced back later defeating seven seed Mitch Gravina (R Jr) of Rutgers 7-4 clinching a spot in St. Louis.
“It’s a huge relief,” Ritter said. “The whole season is so long, it’s brutal, it takes a toll. It all comes down to this. With being eight seed, it could go either way. I could lose and not make it, or suck it up and win. I got it done.”
The next round he faced TJ Dudley (R Sr) from Nebraska. Dudley got the 8-0 major, so Ritter would go on to wrestle tenth seeded Bobby Stevenson (R Fr) from Minnesota for seventh. Hunter ended his first tournament in eighth dropping a close 4-1 decision.
“I got two weeks to start feeling good,” Ritter said. “I’m just gonna go out there and wrestle. I’m gonna go have fun and give it all I got. It’s all you can do.”
Cole Martin entered the tournament with the eighth seed as well. He ended his first Big Ten Tournament with a 3-2 record at 141 lbs. He opened the tournament with a major 14-4 decision over the ninth seeded Sal Profaci (Fr) of Michigan. In the second round Martin matched up with top seeded and eventual Big Ten Champion Anthony Ashnault (Jr) from Rutgers. Ashnault claimed the major 9-1 decision, but Martin came back with an 8-2 decision over Northwestern’s tenth seeded Alec McKenna (R Fr). This officially qualified Martin as the worst he could do moving forward was 8th place.
“It feels amazing,” Martin said. “I watched the NCAA Tournament my whole life growing up as a kid and being able to be a part of that my freshman year is really awesome.”
Following that, in the consolation quarterfinal round Martin came up short against the eventual 3rd place finisher in Nebraska’s fourth seeded Colton McCrystal (Jr). Finally capping off his first conference tournament on a high note, Martin pinned second seeded and No. 10 in the nation, Penn State’s Jimmy Gulibon (R Sr) to claim a seventh-place finish.
“I just really want to help bring Wisconsin back to the top. I mean the best we’ve done in the last 10 years is fourth. I just wanna help put Wisconsin back on the top contenders list,” Martin said.
At 174 lbs. Ryan Christensen qualified for St. Louis with a sixth-place finish and a tournament 3-3 record. Christensen entered with the eleventh seed. In the opening round he knocked off sixth seeded and No. 15 Jordan Pagano (R So) from Rutgers in a close 2-0 decision. Ryan would then match with the third seeded and No.11 in the nation Zach Brunson (R Sr) from Illinois. Brunson earned the 7-1 decision, but Christensen answered with a 13-2 major decision over Michigan State’s 12 seed Drew Barnes (R Sr).
In the consolation, quarterfinal round Christensen met with Wisconsin native Jacob Morrissey (R Jr) from Purdue for the second time this season. Christensen emerged victorious claiming an 11-0 major. To begin Sunday Christensen dropped a close 2-0 battle to fourth seeded and No.8 Myles Amine from Michigan. To end the tournament Christensen faced five seed Alex Meyer (Sr) from Iowa in a rematch from the regular season. It was Meyer who emerged victorious with a 4-2 decision, giving Christensen a sixth-place finish.
Bouncing back, Ricky Robertson finished the Big Ten Tournament with a fifth-place finish. In doing so he qualified for his third NCAA Tournament in as many years. Robertson entered the tournament with the fifth seed, as well as sitting at No.12 in the nation.
He finished with a 4-2 record including the bye, after dropping an overtime 2-1 decision to Rutgers Matt Correnti (Fr) fighting his way through consolation round after round. Robertson took down six seed Jacob Berkowitz (R Sr) from Northwestern and seven seed Cash Wilcke (R Fr) from Iowa to earn a trip to St. Louis before being stopped by fourth seeded and No.7 Matt McCutcheon (R Jr) from Penn State in a close 3-2 decision. Robertson would end his day on a high note, getting revenge on Matt Correnti in the fifth-place bout with an easy 9-1 major decision.
Isaac Jordan headed into the Big Ten Tournament with the third seed looking to defend his title, as well as qualify for his fourth NCAA Tournament in as many seasons. No. 3 Jordan had a tough tournament finishing in fourth place with a 3-2 record. Jordan started strong taking down Dylan Lyde (R Fr) from Purdue 10-1 and six seed Nick Wanzek (R Jr) from Minnesota 10-3. He then faced known foe, Michigan’s No.2 Logan Massa (R Fr) for the third time this season.
After losing to Massa twice during the regular season Jordan was out for redemption. Unfortunately, due to a questionable buzzer beating call, Jordan lost for the third time, this time in just a 4-3 decision. Jordan came back to wrestle in the third-place bout after beating eighth seeded Drew Hughes (Fr). In an uncharacteristic outcome, Jordan dropped the third-place bout to fourth seeded and No.4 ranked Vincenzo Joseph (So) from Penn State 5-2.
Finally rounding out Wisconsin’s six qualifiers and the tournament Connor Medbery finished in second place. Medbery entered the tournament undefeated with the second seed, and the No.2 national ranking at heavyweight. Medbery punched his ticket to the finals going 3-0 in the first day of competition. Medbery cruised through the competition winning 11-1 over Indiana’s Fletcher Miller (R Jr) and 7-4 over Maryland’s seventh seeded Youssif Hemida (So).
In the semifinals, he faced Penn State’s third seeded and third ranked Nick Nevills (R So) winning a close 3-2 decision. This set up the final everyone was talking about, a battle of the unbeatens, Medbery vs. Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder (Jr).
Snyder is the defending Big Ten and National Champion, as well as defending gold medalist. Snyder earned gold this summer in Rio, and had Medbery as his training partner. The guys battled it out through three full periods. Snyder claimed the top spot defeating Medbery 8-5. Hopefully this is a match we will see again in the final match of the NCAA tournament.
NCAA action gets underway Thursday, March 16th at 3pm inside the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO. Action concludes Saturday, the 18th.