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If you watched our countdown on FRL of the top 20 teams in our preseason ranking, you'd know that the race for third and fourth place at NCAAs this year, the last two spots that earn a team trophy, is wide open.
With the teams currently ranked third through 13th separated by a total of 13 points, there's a lot of storylines to follow. So to do as best we can with that, we devised running a series of articles called "trophy hunters" based on this 2016 piece from our own Christian Pyles.
The first edition of Trophy Hunters will feature the #5 Wisconsin Badgers, who went 3-0 on opening day out in San Diego, beating Fresno State, Army, and Navy.
Wisconsin 31, Fresno State 8
125: Michael Cullen (UW) 14-2 over Robert Garcia (FS)
133: Seth Gross (UW) FALL 4:09 over Gary Joint (FS)
141: Tristan Moran (UW) 5-3 over Durbin Lloren (FS)
149: Cole Martin (UW) 6-4 (TB2) over Greg Gaxiola (FS)
157: Jacob Wright (FS) 9-6 over Garrett Model (UW)
165: Evan Wick (UW) 16-0 over Adam Kemp (FS)
174: Jackson Hemauer (FS) 6-5 over Jared Krattiger (UW)
184: Johnny Sebastian (UW) 13-5 over Hunter Cruz (FS)
197: Ryan Reyes (FS) 6-3 over Taylor Watkins (UW)
285: Trent Hillger (UW) FALL 4:44 over Randy Gonzalez (FS)
Wisconsin 16, Army 15
125: Michael Cullen (UW) 3-1 over Trey Chalifoux (Army)
133: Seth Gross (UW) 12-0 over Lane Peters (Army)
141: Tristan Moran (UW) 7-1 over Corey Shie (Army)
149: PJ Ogunsanya (Army) 6-3 over Cole Martin (UW)
157: Luke Weiland (Army) 5-2 over Garrett Model (UW)
165: Evan Wick (UW) 9-2 over Cael McCormick (Army)
174: Ben Harvey (Army) 4-2 over Tyler Dow (UW)
184: Noah Stewart (Army) 3-1 over Johnny Sebastian (UW)
197: J.T. Brown (Army) 8-2 over Taylor Watkins (UW)
285: Trent Hillger (UW) 7-0 over Ben Sullivan (Army)
Wisconsin 24, Navy 12
125: Logan Treaster (Navy) 1-0 over Michael Cullen (UW)
133: Seth Gross (UW) 11-2 over Casey Cobb (Navy)
141: Tristan Moran (UW) 5-3 over Cody Trybus (Navy)
149: Cole Martin (UW) 14-3 over Morgan Feunffinger (Navy)
157: Garret Model (UW) 10-7 over Scott Skidgel (Navy)
165: Evan Wick (UW) 10-2 over Tanner Skidgel (Navy)
174: Spencer Carey (Navy) FALL over Anders Lantz (UW)
184: Tyler Dow (UW) 3-1 (SV-1) over Andrew Buckley (Navy)
197: Jacob Koser (Navy) 4-1 over Taylor Watkins (UW)
285: Trent Hillger (UW) 1-0 over John Birchmeier (Navy)
A few notes from the team's first three duals:
- Top-ranked 133 pounder Seth Gross began his Hodge campaign with a second-period pin and two major decisions.
- At 165, #3 Evan Wick kicked the season off with a tech, a seven-point decision over #12 McCormick, and a major over #15 Skidgel.
- Heavyweight Trent Hillger looked liked a returning All-American, picking up a pin and not giving up a point in his other two matches.
In his Monday press conference with the local media, head coach Chris Bono said:
"Our season’s gonna go by how we do at 125, 157, 174, and 197. How those guys do, that’s the guys that we need to really make sure that are ready to go and surprise some people."
On Friday, those weights went a combined 3-9. Michael Cullen, who started at 125, picked up two wins, including one over NCAA qualifier Trey Chalifoux. Jared Krattiger, Tyler Dow, and Anders Lantz all started matches at 174.
True freshmen Pete Christensen (197) and Eric Barnett (125), who were #23 and #36 respectively on the 2019 Big Board, both made the trip but did not wrestle. Barnett is a Wisconsin native who was #2 in the final high school rankings at 126, and Christensen is from Illinois and also finished #2 at 195 in the last hs ranking.
As a senior coming in ranked #11, expectations were high for Cole Martin. But the 149 pounder had to win his first match in tiebreakers over an unranked foe, fell to an unranked opponent in overtime of his second match, and then got a major to close out the day. The loss to Ogunsanya should negatively impact his ranking, and consequently Wisconsin's projected team points will take a slight hit.