MADISON, Wis. -- Coming off a huge road win against Nebraska, the Wisconsin wrestling team kept the momentum rolling Sunday afternoon. Hosting a doubleheader at the Field House, the No. 15 Badgers (5-0, 1-0 B1G) defeated Princeton (0-2) 22-18 in the first match, and then held on for a 22-17 win against No. 24 Utah Valley (5-2).
Wisconsin had to fight back from an initial six-point deficit in both matches, as sophomore Connor Brown couldn't compete at 125 pounds due to an injury he suffered on Friday, and the team elected not to burn freshman Ethan Rotondo's redshirt.
In the Princeton match, senior Jens Lantz and junior Tristan Moran erased the Tigers' lead early, with Lantz earning a 11-3 major decision and Moran a 9-8 decision.
Junior Cole Martin faced the No. 1 wrestler at 149 pounds in Matthew Kolodzik and fought well before ultimately losing by decision 13-8. Sophomore Zander Wick also fell by decision at 157 pounds in his first match since Nov. 1 against Buffalo.
In what has become a pattern, the Badgers opened up the lead in the next weight classes, as sophomore Evan Wick comfortably took a 14-3 major decision at 165 pounds, and then senior Ryan Christensen and junior Mason Reinhardt both won by decision to give the Badgers some space.
But then a pin by No. 7 Patrick Brucki of Princeton on freshman Andrew Salemme at 197 pounds gave the Tigers a chance to win the dual if they took the heavyweight match.
Unfortunately for Princeton, that would mean beating freshman Trent Hillger, and Hillger would have nothing of it. Hillger recorded a first period tech fall 16-0 and secured the victory for the Badgers.
Wisconsin got a stiff challenge from No. 24 Utah Valley in the second match.
Again starting down 6-0, senior Jens Lantz capped off an impressive 3-0 weekend by winning with a takedown in overtime over his opponent at 133 pounds.
After Moran dropped a 10-5 decision at 141 pounds, the Badgers went on a run. Junior Cole Martin got things started with a pin in 4:07 at 149 pounds, and then Zander Wick earned his first win of the season with a 12-11 decision at 157 pounds.
Evan Wick had his second ranked matchup of the season, this time against #16 Demetrius Romero, but he handled his opponent to earn a 12-2 major decision. Ryan Christensen was also tasked with a ranked matchup against #14 Kimball Bastian, but closed out his undefeated weekend with a 3-1 decision over Bastian at 174 pounds.
After Reinhardt dropped a decision and Salemme lost via tech fall, the Badgers had a two-point lead heading into the final match. Hillger was again tasked with securing the team victory, but this time he had much stiffer competition, facing No. 15 Tate Orndorff.
Orndorff took a commanding 6-0 lead after catching Hillger in a cradle, but Hillger, slowly but surely, rallied back. When the third period ended, Hillger trailed 7-6, but forced overtime with over a minute of riding time. In overtime, with the fans on their feet and the Field House rocking, Hillger delivered the final takedown to win the match, and the dual.
Next up, the Badgers have an extended break over Thanksgiving weekend, and then travel to the SIUE tournament on Dec. 2.
Straight from the mat
Head Coach Chris Bono
On the double header
"It is all part of the plan. Everything we do is getting us ready for March. March is not easy, three days in March is not easy. So for us to go on the road Friday night, coming back we hit a little snow so it took us a couple extra hours, come back last night, shed a few pounds, and show up early this morning getting ready for a noon start against two ranked and tough teams, that is what getting ready for March is all about because it is not easy. It is planned. I am very happy how they responded. They showed up. And to have Trent do what Trent did, is awesome."
On being undefeated
"It is November. This is the preseason. Everything is the preseason until we get to the Big Ten tournament. I am happy for these guys. The change has been hard. We are one team. It is exciting to see these guys come together and really start to believe in each other and enjoying each other. It was a great weekend."
On the whole team's performance and chemistry
"It's the kids. It's about these kids. Nobody but these kids. They are giving us everything they have. These student-athletes are amazing. They deserve it. I'm not doing the work. The kids are doing the work and laying everything on the line. They believe in us. They deserve all the accolades and that is what it's about."
Sophomore Evan Wick
On the overall weekend
"This was huge, we knocked off a couple teams. Nebraska crushed us last year and we went in there and fought hard. We have guys who are going to push the pace and wrestle for six or seven minutes. If it goes into overtime we're ready, the coaches made us ready. The team is coming together and we believe in our ability and we believe in each other, and it starts from the starters to the redshirt freshman."
On his ranked victory
"I had a really good mindset going into that match, I told myself, don't worry about the score, your record, your ranking, and I just went out there and took my shots and committed. I felt really good going out there and I felt confident in my conditioning ability."
Freshman Trent Hillger
On the difference as a starter
"First compared to high school, the longest I was ever on a mat for was two minutes. Now I'm wrestling most of my matches seven minutes, so that is a huge difference. Now I'm wrestling veterans and people that have been starters for a while. I'm excited for the role as a starter, age doesn't matter that much when you get to this level, but I'm loving it."
On his comeback win
"I've always been a guy that, for me, it's not over until it's over. Before both duals Coach Bono told us 'we got conditioning in our back pocket' and it came up now, I had to use it. Just chip away, at the end of each period I wanted to be within three, within two, and then tied or winning. I knew that I wasn't out of it."
Wisconsin 22, Princeton 18
125: Pat Glory (PU) wins by forfeit
133: Jens Lantz (UW) over Jonathan Gomez (PU) (MD 11-3)
141: Tristan Moran (UW) over Marshall Keller (PU) (Dec 9-8)
149: Matthew Kolodzik (PU) over Cole Martin (UW) (Dec 13-8)
157: Quincy Monday (PU) over Zander Wick (UW) (Dec 11-7)
165: Evan Wick (UW) over Dale Tiongson (PU) (MD 14-3)
174: Ryan Christensen (UW) over Travis Stefanik (PU) (Dec 6-4)
184: Mason Reinhardt (UW) over Kevin Parker (PU) (Dec 7-3)
197: Patrick Brucki (PU) over Andrew Salemme (UW) (Fall 4:08)
HWT: Trent Hillger (UW) over Obinna Ajah (PU) (TF 16-0 2:44)
Wisconsin 22, Utah Valley 17
125: Josh Jensen (UVU) wins by forfeit
133: Jens Lantz (UW) over Mitchell Brown (UVU) (SV-1 7-5)
141: Matt Findlay (UVU) over Tristan Moran (UW) (Dec 10-5)
149: Cole Martin (UW) over Matthew Ontiveros (Fall 4:07)
157: Zander Wick (UW) over Grant LaMont (UVU) (Dec 12-11)
165: Evan Wick (UW) over Demetrius Romero (UVU) (MD 12-2)
174: Ryan Christensen (UW) over Kimball Bastian (UVU) (Dec 3-1)
184: Will Sumner (UVU) over Mason Reinhardt (UW) (Dec 6-1)
197: Tanner Orndorff (UVU) over Andrew Salemme (UW) (TF 21-4 6:07)
HWT: Trent Hillger over Tate Orndorff (UVU) (SV-1, 9-7)