Feb. 2, 2009

Courtesy of Wisconsin Athletics

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin wrestling team is back on track. After starting the Big Ten season 0-3, the 17th-ranked Badgers won their first conference meet Sunday in a 28-13 victory over No. 16 Penn State in College Park, Penn. The win moves Wisconsin to 7-6-0 on the season, 1-3-0 in conference. Penn State drops to 7-8-2, 0-2-2 in the Big Ten.

The Badgers fell behind early, but used consecutive victories in the 141, 149, 157 and 165 lbs. weight classes to take the lead from Penn State. Despite a loss in the 174 lbs. class, Wisconsin won the final three matches, including two overtime bouts, to help achieve their first conference win.

The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 10-0 advantage with wins in the 125 and 133 lbs. weight classes. No. 17 Brad Pataky of Penn State won the meet’s first bout in a 12-4 major decision over Badger junior Drew Hammen in the 125 lbs. class. No. 11 Jake Strayer scored the second straight victory for the Nittany Lions as he pinned Wisconsin junior Erik Senescu at the 2:59 mark in the 133 lbs. competition.

After falling behind, the Badgers got their first points of the meet from senior Zach Tanelli in the 141 lbs. class. Tanelli won a 22-7 tech fall victory over Penn State’s Frank Molinario, bringing Wisconsin within five. Ranked first in his weight class, Tanelli scored five takedowns in the third period to extend his lead in the victory.

Fifth-ranked junior Kyle Ruschell kept the momentum going for the Badgers in the 149 lbs. class, scoring a 13-0 major decision win over Colby Pisani of Penn State.  Wisconsin then grabbed their first lead of the meet in the 157 lbs. weight class as freshman Ben Jordan scored the Badgers’ second major decision victory of the dual with a 13-4 win over Shane Everett of Penn State. With a 6-2 lead heading into the third, Jordan scored three takedowns and a riding time point for the final margin, helping Wisconsin take the 13-10 advantage.

The lead stretched to 16-10 as Badger freshman Andrew Howe took on Penn State’s Dan Vallimont in the 165 lbs. class. Vallimont is ranked eighth at 157 lbs., but has moved to the 165 lbs. weight class in recent competition. After a scoreless first period, tenth-ranked Howe grabbed a
2-1 lead in the second period with a takedown. Howe sealed the victory with an escape in the third to provide him a 3-2 decision victory. The win keeps Howe undefeated in dual meets this season with a 9-0 record.

The Nittany Lions scored their final team points in the next bout which featured two freshmen in the 174 lbs. class. Travis Rutt of Wisconsin fell behind 2-0 after the first two periods, and could not overcome 16th-ranked Quentin Wright of Penn State, losing a 4-2 decision.

Next for Wisconsin was sophomore Eric Bugenhagen, looking to extend the Badger lead in the 184 lbs. class. The first points of the bout came as Decker made an escape in the third period, but Bugenhagen responded by scoring a takedown to lead 2-1. A penalty on Bugenhagen for locked hands tied the score 2-2, sending the match into overtime. Bugenhagen scored a takedown in the extra period, giving him a 4-2 decision, and Wisconsin a
19-13 advantage.

The Badger lead moved to 25-13 as senior Dallas Herbst built on his Wisconsin career pin record. Facing off against J.R. Brown of Penn State at 197 lbs., Herbst pinned his opposition in the first period at the
1:06 mark. The pin gives third-ranked Herbst eight on the season, and 54 for his career.

Closing the day for Wisconsin was senior Kyle Massey, ranked ninth in the heavyweight class. Massey led 1-0 at the end of the second period from an escape, but Penn State’s Stefan Tighe tied the score 1-1 with an escape in the third. Massey ended the bout by scoring a takedown in overtime, giving him a 3-1 decision victory. The win gave the Badgers an additional three points, providing the final margin of 28-13.