Badger Revenge | 2018 Big Ten Tournament

By TomM March 6, 2018 19:31

Badger Revenge | 2018 Big Ten Tournament

Badger Revenge

by Luke Louison

“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” – Russell Crowe, Gladiator

For the Badgers, who had an underwhelming Big Ten dual season, this life was the Big Ten Tournament. They avenged 10 losses from earlier in the season, and in doing so, finished 6th, outplacing three teams that had defeated them earlier in the year.

And, if that wasn’t enough vengeance, maybe the next (life) will be at the NCAA Tournament in two weeks. In exacting all that retribution, Wisconsin secured 7 tournament bids, a number that was bested only by Ohio State (10), Penn State (9), Iowa (9), and Michigan (8) in the Big Ten.

NCAA Qualifiers in Gold

Eli Stickley

For Eli, revenge was the appetizer, the entrée and the dessert of his 6th place meal at the Big Ten Tournament. Each of his three wins avenged a defeat from earlier in the season. His first victory, a 7-0 romp of Javier Gasca of Michigan State, was retribution for his 9-6 loss at the Michigan State Open earlier in the season. It’s true Stickley’s 6-2 win in the dual meet on January 21st had already filled that need, but as is the case with appetizers, sometimes it takes more than one to fill you up.

From there, he knocked off Indiana’s Cole Weaver, 3-2, which atoned for the 34-second fall Weaver had scored against Stickley in their January 26th dual meet match.

Lastly, in beating Ryan Diehl of Maryland, 6-4, Stickley put the cherry on a three-scoop revenge sundae. Sure, Stickley had majored Diehl in their November dual match, 14-1. Shortly after that though, Diehl was the recipient of one of Eli’s medical forfeits at The Midlands. It may be a technicality, but revenge is revenge. As Michael Corleone said, “I don’t feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom, just my enemies.

Hunter Ritter

Ritter’s revenge train started in the consolation semifinals, where he squared off with Christian Brunner of Purdue. In the Badgers final dual of the season, Brunner ended Ritter’s undefeated Big Ten dual streak, with a 7-3 victory in the Fieldhouse. In Ritter’s 6-3 revenge victory, he locked up a side headlock to get the crucial back points he needed.

The revenge Ritter extracted in his 3rd place match over Michigan’s Kevin Beazley was even fresher, as Beazley had sent Ritter to the consolation bracket just the evening prior, defeating him by fall in 6:29. Their feud though, was more of a back-and-forth affair than straight-forward revenge. Beazley defeated Ritter via first period pin at the Michigan State Open back in November. The revenge pendulum swung back Ritter’s way at the dual meet in January, with a 3-2 win over the Wolverine.

Ultimately, in any good feud, the stakes escalate. Ritter, in the fourth iteration of their season-long series went beyond winning into full Rocky IV territory (“I must break you.”) to take down 3rd place, dislocating Beazley’s elbow with the same side headlock and winning via injury default.

Evan Wick

Wick had only been defeated five times, heading into the Big Ten tournament, and for 40% of those losses, Evan returned the favor at the Big Tens, in route to his 4th place finish. He was able to rectify a 14-6 major decision loss with a 3-1 defeat of Nebraska’s Isaiah White. He followed that up by upending Logan Massa of Michigan 4-3. Massa had beat Wick 11-3 back at the Michigan State Open in the beginning of November. They were even on the season though, as Wick had earned an 8-4 win at the Cliff Keen Invitational. Massa was either injured or injured for Wisconsin-Michigan dual meet, but Wick showed you can run but you can’t hide.

Ryan Christensen & Cole Martin

For some wrestlers, avenging a loss might be personal. For Christensen and Martin, it was all business. That business was going to the NCAA tournament in Cleveland. In both Christensen’s 7th place match and Martin’s 9th place match, the winner earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, while the loser was left to the fates of the wildcard selection process.

For Martin, his opponent was a familiar one, Michigan’s Malik Amine. In Martin’s second dual meet wrestling up to 149 pounds (in for Zander Wick), Amine secured a 2:20 fall over the former Lancaster Flying Arrow. In their rematch, revenge was best served with a cow-catcher at the final seconds, to secure a takedown and 4-3 victory for Martin. A real beaut too! Here, see for yourself.

Christensen’s opponent, Devin Skatzka of Indiana, also earned bonus points in their earlier encounter, defeating the Badger 9-1 in their match at the 1/26 dual. Christensen increased his point total significantly over the first match, outscoring Skatzka 10-7 to take 7th and to punch his NCAA ticket.

Ben Stone

The most surprising revenge came from the Badgers first year starter at heavyweight. After falling 5-3 to Rutgers’s Razohnn Gross in a dual meet just a couple weeks earlier, Stone not only avenged the defeat, but did it in the most team-friendly way possible, a first period fall. Getting some of his own sweet, sweet revenge, he secured 2.5 team points, more than Johnny Jimenez (-0.5), Jens Lantz (0.5) and Cole Martin (0) combined. What a way to finish the season!

Frank Sinatra once said “the best revenge is massive success,” so here’s hoping the Badgers go the way of Old Blue Eyes and continue their Liam Neeson-esque revenge streak with a Top Ten finish in Cleveland in two weeks!

By TomM March 6, 2018 19:31