MADISON, Wis.-- In a thrilling dual at the UW Field House, the No. 22 Wisconsin wrestling team (6-2, 3-0 Big Ten) extended its dual win streak to four, including three straight to open Big Ten Conference competition, with a comeback, 19-16, upset win over No. 11 Michigan Sunday.
In about as a dramatic ending as you could hope for, after being down six points with three matches to go, Wisconsin rallied to tie the team score at 16 and set-up a dual deciding match at heavyweight between No. 11 Connor Medbery and Michigan's No. 19-ranked Ben Apland.
Medbery came through for the Badgers, winning by decision, 6-2, and sealing the win.
"It's kind of a bittersweet thing," Medbery said of the outcome of the dual falling on his shoulders. "You know you have to help your team and your match has a big impact, but it's a lot of pressure too."
• Connor Medbery (7-0) and Jackson Hein (8-0) extended their unbeaten dual competition records in the win.
• No. 3 Tyler Graff made his dual debut at 133 lbs., and won by major decision for UW's only extra point match win.
• Tom Kelliher (141 lbs.), Kalvin York (157 lbs.), and Scott Liegel (184 lbs.) also earn match wins for the Badgers.
After going winless in Big Ten competition last season, this year's undefeated start to the conference season represents a remarkable turnaround for Wisconsin, but Medbery and the Badgers aren't content with just being a feel good story.
"Three wins in Big Ten duals when we didn't win one last year is a great feeling," he said. "But we also know that there is a bigger picture and we're working towards March."
Against the Wolverines, Wisconsin led 10-8 through five matches, but quickly saw that lead turned into a 16-10 deficit courtesy of a pair of Michigan major decision wins at 165 lbs., and 174 lbs.
The comeback for the Badgers had to start at 184 lbs., where Scott Liegel would be wrestling for the first time this season. Until Sunday's dual, Liegel had been Wisconsin's starter at 174 lbs., but assistant coach Trevor Brandvold saw an opportunity to exploit a potential mismatch by wrestling Liegel up a weight class against Michigan's Chris Heald, and it paid off.
In one of two sudden victory wins for the Badgers on the day, Liegel defeated Heald, 2-1, and brought the Badgers within three points.
"We made the switch and Liegel came through," Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis said. "That was a good call by coach Brandvold."
At 197 lbs., Jackson Hein tied the team score at 16 with an upset win by decision, 2-1, over the Wolverine's eighteenth-ranked Max Huntley to set up Medbery's decisive match at heavyweight.
Tyler Graff, Tom Kelliher and Kalvin York also earned match wins for the Badgers.
Making his dual debut at 133 lbs., the third-ranked Graff scored Wisconsin's only extra point win against Michigan with a 20-7 major decision. Kelliher won earned a sudden victory, 7-5, at 141 lbs., and York used a last second takedown to win, 9-7, by decision at 157 lbs.
As Davis noted, Wisconsin showed poise throughout the dual, earning wins in a number of matches that came down to the last second, and it paid off with a big win over one of the top teams in the country.
"It was a team effort and just a great win over a tough team," Davis said.
The Badger wrestlers return to action next weekend with a pair of road duals against two of the best teams the Big Ten has to offer. Wisconsin will face No. 1 Penn State Friday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m., in Happy Valley before heading to Columbus, Ohio, for a Sunday dual against No. 5-ranked Ohio State at noon.
Friday's dual against the Nittany Lions will air live on Big Ten Network and the match-up with the Buckeyes will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network (BTDN) at BTN.com.
125 -- Sean Boyle (U-M) major dec. Matt Cavallaris, 12-0 U-M, 4-0
133 -- #3 Tyler Graff (UW) major dec. Rossi Bruno, 20-7 Tied, 4-4
141 -- Tom Kelliher (UW) dec. Mike Hillock, 7-5 SV UW, 7-4
149 -- #11 Eric Grajales (U-M) major dec. Cole Schmitt, 14-6 U-M, 8-7
157 -- Kalvin York (UW) dec. Collin Zeerip, 9-7 UW, 10-8
165 -- #13 Taylor Massa (U-M) major dec. Frank Cousins, 18-4 U-M, 12-10
174 -- #11 Dan Yates (U-M) major dec. Ben Cox, 12-1 U-M, 16-10
184 -- Scott Liegel (UW) dec. Chris Heald, 3-1 U-M, 16-13
197 -- Jackson Hein (UW) dec. #18 Max Huntley, 2-1 Tied, 16-16
Hwt -- #11 Connor Medbery (UW) dec. #19 Ben Apland, 8-2 UW, 19-16