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Badgers stomp Maryland to open Big Ten slate

MADISON – For the second consecutive year, the Wisconsin wrestling team begins its dual season with three straight wins.

The Badgers topped Maryland 32-6 at the UW Field House Thursday night in Wisconsin’s Big Ten opener.

UW won nine of 10 bouts en route to a decisive victory.

“I told the guys, you have a chance to be on Big Ten Network, National TV,” UW head coach Barry Davis said. “Let’s showcase ourselves, showcase our program. Let’s show people the direction this program is going. And they stepped up and did a great job.”

True freshman Ethan Rotondo set the tone for the Badgers in the first match of the night.

Trailing 4-1 entering the final period, Rotondo tallied a reversal, followed by four near fall points to secure a 7-5 win over Maryland’s Brandon Cray.

Jens Lantz followed suit with a 7-2 win over Jhared Simmons at 133 pounds.

Next came one of the highlights of the evening: Eli Stickley’s 14-1 thrashing of No.12 Ryan Diehl.

Stickley scored early and often, picking up his second win of the season over a ranked opponent. In the moments leading up to the bout, Stickley was unaware his opponent would be Diehl.

“I actually didn’t know I was going to wrestle him before the match,” Stickley said. “I was very calm and ready to go for the other guy. But, mentally, just seeing [Diehl] not attempt anything at the start of the match gave me that push and that drive to go out there and get the job done. “

At 149 pounds, Patrick Spray earned the first Big Ten victory of his career courtesy of an 8-6 decision over Peter Tedesco.

A key moment in the match came in the waning moments of the first period.

Just prior to scoring an escape, Spray narrowly avoided a dicey situation that could have resulted in him being tossed. Instead, Spray scored his one-point escape and proceeded to go on the offensive. He ultimately scored a takedown at the buzzer, gaining additional momentum.

“That was a good exchange,”Davis said. “But other times, he got nervous and didn’t let himself wrestle. He made it a little bit tougher for himself. But once he cut loose, he did a good job.”

Spray found out Wednesday that he would be starting in place of nationally-ranked Zander Wick. Though Davis declined to go into specifics, he stated that something came up in Wednesday’s practice that prevented Wick from making the start. However, Davis said Wick would be “good to go” in the near future.

Andrew Crone kept things rolling for the Badgers with a 10-2 win over Justin Alexander at 157 pounds. The major decision gave UW a 17-0 advantage at intermission.

The meat of the Wisconsin lineup sealed the deal after the break.

No.7 Evan Wick (165) scored a major decision. Ryan Christensen did the same at 174.

Eighth-ranked Ricky Robertson blanked Spencer Woods 6-0.

No.18 Hunter Ritter (197) capped it all off by topping Niko Capello 10-0.

Wisconsin’s lone loss came in the final bout of the night. Maryland’s Youssif Hemida, the No.10 heavyweight in the country, pinned Ben Stone in 1:11.

Thursday marked the second time the two wrestlers crossed paths this season and Hemida has won by first-period pin on each occasion.

UW (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) returns to action Saturday when it travels to UW-Whitewater. The Warhawks are currently ranked No.12 in Division III and are fresh off an upset of DIII No.1 Wartburg College last weekend.

That match is set to begin at 1 p.m.

“It’s great to see that what we have been doing is paying off,” Stickley said. “We can look at this in a positive light and build off of it. We’re a family and things like this help us grow closer. We’ve had good times and bad times, but this is a good time and we’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to keep on building and loving on each other.”

Wisconsin 32, Maryland 6

125: Ethan Rotondo (UW) dec. Brandon Cray, 7-5.

133: Jens Lantz (UW) dec. Jhared Simmons, 7-2

141: Eli Stickley (UW) maj. dec. No.12 Ryan Diehl, 14-1

149: Patrick Spray (UW) dec. Peter Tedesco, 8-6

157: Andrew Crone (UW) maj. dec. Justin Alexander, 10-2

165: No.7 Evan Wick maj. dec. Brendan Burnham, 13-3

174: Ryan Christensen (UW) maj. dec. Josh Ugalde, 13-2

184: No.8 Ricky Robertson (UW) dec. Spencer Woods, 6-0

197: No.18 Hunter Ritter (UW) maj. dec. Niko Capello, 10-0

HWT: No.10 Youssif Hemida (M) p. Ben Stone, 1:11

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