Throughout his career, Wisconsin’s Ricky Robertson has come painfully close to becoming an All-American.
The redshirt senior qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of his three non-redshirt seasons and has spent the bulk of his time in a cardinal and white singlet as a nationally-ranked wrestler.
He holds a 3-6 career record at the national tournament, with his best finish being a 2-2 showing in 2015.
No one would blame Robertson for being down or even panicking after missing the podium on three occasions. Instead, UW’s 184-pounder views his final season as his best chance yet to stand among the nation’s best.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a sense of urgency,” said Robertson. “Everything has accumulated this year, in a sense. I take past failures and past successes and hope to put it all together to figure out what steps I need to take to accomplish what I’d like to. I think being able to look at the past four years, I have a good plan set in place and hopefully that works out for me.”
Where does Robertson hope to be at season’s end? On the medal stand, of course. As high up it as he can climb.
“I definitely want to be an NCAA All-American. I’d like to at least be in the top three by the end of the year,” Robertson said. “Those are the high expectations I have for myself and hopefully throughout the season I can continue to grow and make that possible.”
Robertson opened the season ranked No.11 at his weight class by InterMat, the highest ranking of any Wisconsin wrestler.
He is tabbed No.6 by WIN Magazine, while earning a No.9 designation from FloWrestling and the No.12 spot at 184 by The Open Mat.
Though his early season rankings have him in position to be noticed, they are just speculation of what the rest of the year could hold. In order to reach his goals, Robertson must continually push forward.
“Consistency is the biggest thing. I’m sure some of the other guys have talked about consistency. We talk about it as a program,” Robertson said. “Just being consistent, accountable, holding yourself to a higher standard whether it’s in the weight room or in the wrestling room, giving a full 100 percent effort and doing everything that I possibly can.”
While consistency in his practice routine has been a key, Robertson’s position in the lineup has been anything but steady. During his tenure in Madison, he has been the Badgers’ starter at three different weight classes.
Robertson began his college career at 184 pounds, dropped to 174 for his redshirt sophomore season and then moved all the way up to 197 pounds last year. Regardless of weight class, each season ended with a trip to the NCAAs.
His ability to compete is more than just a mindset. His success at several weight classes has made it a matter of fact. With that in mind, Robertson is particularly comfortable with the weight he has chosen for his last run at a podium finish.
“I think I can compete at whatever weight class I’m at,” Robertson said after UW’s intrasquad scrimmage in October. “I think most would say 184 is where I’ve had the most success. I think you’ll be able to see that this year. I think it’s where I’m strongest and most comfortable. It’s going to be a really great year.”
So far, Robertson’s predication is correct. His 11-1 start to the season is his best as a Badger, surpassing his previous top mark of 10-2 his redshirt freshman season (the last time he wrestled at 184 pounds).
On Nov.19, he won an individual championship at the CSU-Bakersfield Roadrunner Open. He recorded three pins and a technical fall before topping No.12 Emery Parker of Illinois in the title bout 3-1.
Not only is Robertson winning at a career-best pace, his average margin of victory is increasing. In his 121 career matches as an attached wrestler, he has amassed 79 wins. Of those, 53 have been by decision (67 percent) meaning roughly one-third of his wins were “bonus-point” victories (pins, technical falls, major decisions).
This year, just three of his 11 wins (27.3 percent) have come via decision. Meaning 72.7 percent of his victories qualify as bonus-point wins.
But the season is young and the quality of competition is quickly increasing. This weekend, Wisconsin travels to Las Vegas for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Robertson is one of 11 nationally-ranked wrestlers projected to be in his bracket. That includes five athletes who are currently ranked ahead of him according to FloWrestling.
Action begins Friday at 11 a.m. (CT).
Badgers tab Bono new head wrestling coach
The University of Wisconsin wrestling team has a new head coach.
On Saturday, UW tabbed former South Dakota State front man Chris Bono as the 16th head coach in program history.
The nation-wide coaching search came to a head just hours after Friday night’s application deadline.
Hey #Badgers fans, we've got big news!
— Wisconsin Wrestling (@BadgerWrestling) March 24, 2018
Bono was named Big 12 Coach of the Year this past season and coached the first national champion in program history.
In the last six years, Bono has coached five All-Americans. The Jackrabbits have had at least one NCAA qualifier in each season under Bono’s guidance.
Prior to his stint in Brookings, Bono spent three seasons at the helm of Chattanooga. There he coached a pair of All-Americans and 19 NCAA qualifiers. The Mocs won three Southern Conference championships during his tenure.
Bono competed at Iowa State during his college days, qualifying for four NCAA tournaments. He won a national championship at 150 pounds and attained All-American status on three occasions.
In freestyle competition, Bono made the US world team on three occasions. He was a two-time freestyle champion and placed first at the World Cup in both 2002 and 2003.
Barry Davis resigns as head wrestling coach
Wisconsin wrestling head coach Barry Davis is stepping down at the end of the season.
That announcement came from the UW Athletic Department early Monday afternoon, just hours after the Badgers advanced seven of their 10 wrestlers to the 2018 NCAA Division I National Championships.
The move reportedly comes after a recent meeting between Davis and athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Davis, who has been the head coach at Wisconsin for the last 25 seasons, will remain onboard through the end of next week’s NCAA Tournament.
During his tenure, Davis has coached 26 All-Americans and three NCAA champions. He is the winningest coach in program history, sporting a career dual meet record of 234-172-11. This season, Davis guided the Badgers to a 7-5 dual record and a 4-5 mark in the Big Ten.
The veteran head coach reportedly met with the team this morning to inform them of the circumstances.
A timeline on the search for Davis’ replacement has not been announced. But a UW official confirmed that a national search will take place.
Associate head coach Trevor Brandvold and assistant coach Kyle Ruschell will remain on staff through the end of the spring semester to aid in the transition process.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Wisconsin wrestling upends No. 13 Illinois
A strong team effort lifted the No. 20 Wisconsin wrestling team to a 19-16 win over host No. 13 Illinois in a Big Ten Conference dual Sunday afternoon.
Though each squad one five matches, the Badgers were able to pull the upset due to some timely performances.
Johnny Jimenez got UW (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) off on the right foot as he upended No. 18 Travis Piotrowski 1-0 in the dual’s opening match at 125 pounds.
It was the first conference win of the season for Jimenez who is now 2-6, 1-3 as an attached wrestler.
The Illini (7-4, 6-3) earned decisions in the next two bouts to grab a 6-3 lead heading to 149 pounds.
That’s where Wisconsin’s Cole Martin recorded a key pin, winning by fall over Eric Barone in 5:15. Martin’s victory gave the Badgers a lead they managed to cling to for the remainder of the day.
Next up, No. 19 Andrew Crone scored his second win over a ranked opponent in a 48-hour span. The redshirt senior topped No. 20 Kyle Langenderfer 8-2 in sudden victory.
Crone is now 3-2 against Langenderfer at the collegiate level, including a 1-1 mark against him this season.
Illinois got back on track with a major decision from second-ranked Isaiah Martinez at 165 pounds. He topped No. 6 Evan Wick 14-6.
The match was the second in a string of three consecutive bouts against ranked opponents for Wick. He is set to face No. 11 Richie Lewis of Rutgers when the Badgers and Scarlet Knights tangle Friday.
Ryan Christensen restored order for Wisconsin with a major decision of his own at 174 pounds.
For the second straight dual, No. 9 Ricky Robertson faced a fellow top-10 foe. This time, he crossed paths with No. 6 Emery Parker.
Parker emerged victorious by a count of 9-4. That win brought the Illini back within three with two matches to go.
Sunday marked the second time the two had met this season. Robertson took the first meeting by a count of 3-1 in sudden victory back in mid-November.
Hunter Ritter pushed UW’s advantage to six points courtesy of a 3-2 decision over Andre Lee.
That meant Illinois needed a pin at heavyweight to tie the match and force the dual meet to be decided by criteria.
For a brief moment, in the latter portion of the second period, it looked like the Illini were about to get their fall.
Deuce Rachal was able to put UW’s Ben Stone on his back. But Stone fought to avoid the pin.
Facing a 7-1 deficit, Stone fought back to cut the deficit to two. While he fell 7-5, Stone’s loss by decision preserved the dual meet win for the Badgers.
Wisconsin returns home to finish out the dual portion of its schedule. The Badgers host No. 16 Rutgers Friday before squaring off with No. 22 Purdue Sunday.
No. 20 Wisconsin 19, No. 13 Illinois 16
125: Johnny Jimenez (UW) dec. No. 18 Travis Piotrowski, 1-0
133: Dylan Duncan (UI) dec. Jens Lantz, 5-2
141: Mike Carr (UI) dec. Eli Stickley, 10-4
149: Cole Martin (UW) p. Eric Barone, 5:15
157: No. 19 Andrew Crone (UW) dec. No. 20 Kyle Langenderfer, 8-2 (SV-1)
165: No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (UI) maj. dec. No. 6 Evan Wick, 14-6
174: Ryan Christensen (UW) maj. dec. David Rojas, 17-4
184: No. 6 Emery Parker (UI) dec. No. 9 Ricky Robertson, 9-4
197: Hunter Ritter (UW) dec. Andre Lee, 3-2
HWT: Deuce Rachal (UI0 dec. Ben Stone, 7-5
Badgers fall to No. 14 Nebraska
Visiting Nebraska won seven of 10 matches en route to a 24-10 over Wisconsin at the UW Field House Friday night.
The evening’s proceedings began at 165 pounds where No. 12 Isaiah White of Nebraska upended No. 6 Evan Wick by a count of 7-3 to give the Cornhuskers an early 3-0 lead.
UW’s Ryan Christensen (174 pounds) knotted the team score a match later as he edged Beau Breske 3-2.
The back and forth affair continued at 184 pounds. Seventh-ranked Taylor Venz got the better of No. 9 Ricky Robertson in their top-10 showdown. Venz’s 12-7 decision put No. 14 Nebraska (9-4, 7-2 Big Ten) back on top by three.
Wisconsin responded by way of Hunter Ritter who picked up a 9-6 win at 197 pounds to draw the team score back to even.
The Huskers grabbed the lead once and for all when David Jensen scored a pin at heavyweight, giving Nebraska a 12-6 lead at intermission.
That win sparked a five-match winning streak for the Huskers.
No. 19 Andrew Crone halted that run with an 11-3 major decision over No. 8 Tyler Berger. Crone scored 10 of his 13 points in the second period.
No. 20 Wisconsin (6-3, 3-3) heads to Champaign to take on No. 13 Illinois Sunday afternoon.
No. 14 Nebraska 24, No. 20 Wisconsin 10
165: No. 12 Isaiah White (N) dec. No. 6 Evan Wick, 7-3
174: Ryan Christensen (UW) dec. Beau Breske, 3-2
184: No. 7 Taylor Venz (N) dec. No. 9 Ricky Robertson, 12-7
197: Hunter Ritter (UW) dec. Eric Schultz, 9-6
HWT: David Jensen (N) p. Ben Stone, 1:33
125: Mitchell Maginnis (N) dec. Johnny Jimenez, 5-2
133: No. 19 Jason Renteria (N) dec. Jens Lantz, 11-4
141: No. 13 Chad Red Jr. (N) dec. Eli Stickley, 6-3
149: No. 10 Colton McCrystal (N) dec. Cole Martin, 7-4
157: No. 19 Andrew Crone (UW) maj dec. No. 8 Tyler Berger, 11-3
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