Picture the ultimate wrestling environment. An outdoor mat lays across the middle of the floor underneath a dark sky with the only light coming from the brightness of floodlights on all four sides, illuminating the stage. This isn't just any outdoor mat though, it's one placed carefully on the flight deck of a battleship adjacent to the Navy Pier that looks over the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, just waiting to be filled with fans and athletes from four teams around the country.
This was the environment of the Battle on the Midway, an annual wrestling event on Nov. 1 in San Diego, California. Here's everything you need to know about the results from the duals, what we learned from each of the teams competing and the history of the event.
What were the results from the duals?
|12 p.m. ET||Wisconsin 31, Fresno State 8||FloWrestling|
|2 p.m.||Navy 25, Fresno State 9||FloWrestling|
|2 p.m.||Wisconsin 16, Army 15||FloWrestling|
|9:30 p.m.||Army 29, Fresno State 9||CBS Sports Network
(Broadcast Sunday, Nov. 3 at 12 noon ET)
|11 p.m.||Wisconsin 24, Navy 12||
CBS Sports Network
What did we learn from the teams that competed on the Battle on the Midway and the morning duals?
The Badgers, as expected, picked up three wins over the course of the day between the AFC Duals and the Battle on the Midway. Led by transfer Seth Gross, who picked up a pin and two major decision in his three bouts, Wisconsin cruised past Fresno State 31-8, battled Army 16-15 and took down Navvy 24-12. Redshirt sophomore Trent Hillger also added a pin against Fresno State’s Randy Gonzalez, putting the Bulldog on his back 4:44 into the match.
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Hillger also played a crucial role in Wisconsin’s win against Army as the Badgers trailed by two points before the young star took the mat. Showing off his dominance, Hillger cruised past Ben Sullivan 7-0 to give his team the necessary points to squeeze out the win by one. Despite the Army scare, Wisconsin should hold on to its No. 6 rankings next week.
Wow! What an experience today was! Proud of our team up and down the line up! I am excited to see our improvement in the coming months . Thank you fans for traveling and making a difference ! On to Buffalo and Edinboro ! Let’s Go.#JumpAround— Chris Bono (@ChrisBono) November 2, 2019
Returning All-American Evan Wick also picked up a tech fall in the first dual of the day, while Wisconsin 125-pounder Michael Cullen added bonus points against Fresno State with his major decision against Robert Garcia, and transfer 184-pounder Johnny Sebastian also added a major. Cole Martin recorded a major decision against Navy after being upset by PJ Ogunsanya of Army earlier in the day.
The Badgers take on Buffalo next on Thursday, Nov. 8 before competing against Edinboro on Friday, November 9 where they will look to extend their undefeated record for another weekend.
The Midshipmen finished last season with a 6-4 record, and started out this year 1-1, dropping to Wisconsin 24-12 after barreling past Fresno State 25-9. Junior 125-pounder Logan Treaster kicked off the day for the Midshipmen with a major decision in his first bout against Fresno State’s Jeremy Trinh, and freshman Jake Koser added big team points with a first period pin against Ryan Reyes. Casey Cobb, Cody Trybus, Tanner Skidgel, Andrew Buckley and John Birchmeier also added wins.
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Navy didn’t fare quite as well against the Badgers, though they battled Bono’s squad in every match, holding Wisconsin to just a decision in all but two of the matchups that they lost. Treaster and Koser each added a second victory to stay undefeated on the year while Spencer Carey also notched a win against Anders Lantz. Birchmeier also held All-American Hillger to just one point from an escape, and while he didn’t pick up the W, his grit and fight shows that he should be an athlete to watch this year.
Navy’s weekend is just getting started, as the Mids will compete against Cal Baptist at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday in Riverside, California and then will send a few athletes to the Princeton Open on Sunday in New Jersey. This weekend is the first big challenge for this Navy team and kicks off a difficult dual season for the Midshipmen that also includes contests against Penn State and Lehigh.
Fresno State went 0-3 in their three duals on Friday, dropping to Navy 25-9 and picking up a loss against Wisconsin 31-8 later in the morning before falling to Army 29-9 in the Battle on the Midway. The loss to Army meant the Bulldogs remained winless over their three seasons competing on the Midway, but Fresno State sill has a lot of positives to take from the duals and big things to look forward to as the season continues. The team’s only 2019 All-American Josh Hokit is expected to return to the lineup later this fall or early winter once his football season with the Bulldogs wraps up, and the heavyweight should add some extra firepower and bonus-point potential to the team.
The team does currently have four additional ranked wrestlers competing this fall, and two of those ranked wrestlers picked up wins during the duals. Jackson Hemauer picked up two wins, one against Navy and one against Wisconsin, and Gary Joint picked up his win in major decision style 10-2 over Cole Wyman of Army. The most successful Bulldog over the course of the day, however, was sophomore Jacob Wright, who won all three of his duals, including an upset victory over Lucas Weiland of Army. Greg Gaxiola also added two wins to start his junior campaign, and Ryan Reyes picked up his first W of the season and his career.
The Bulldogs will have some time off before competing against Rutgers at home on November 15th. This team did not lose any national point scorers from last season and will look for its first season win in the coming weeks. Hokit's absence from the lineup will hurt the Bulldogs early, but once he returns, expect him to compete a Big 12 title this year and battle for enough bonus team points in duals to keep his team above .500 over the course of its tough schedule again.
The Black Knights started out the morning strong, challenging a tough Wisconsin team for all ten duals before ultimately dropping 16-15. Sophomore PJ Ogunsanya made a statement early by taking down his ranked opponent Cole Martin 6-3 and creating some momentum for teammate Luke Weiland to come in and secure a 5-2 win at 157 pounds. Army’s top-ranked wrestler in the pre-season, Ben Harvey earned a workman-like 4-2 win over Tyler Dow while Noah Stewart and J.T. Brown rounded out the victors for Army in the morning dual by adding 3-1 and 8-2 decisions for the Black Knights. The team’s competitive match against the top-ten Badgers sent a message that this group is here to compete and will be a dangerous squad moving forward.
The tight contest with the Badgers was just the start of what would end up being a solid day for Army, as the Black Knights took down Fresno State 29-9 later in the evening on the Midway. Harvey added another win to stay undefeated on the day, and Stewart also added a win by disqualification and Hopkins secured bonus points with a a major decision over Ryan Reyes. Trey Chalifoux, a 2019 NCAA qualifier, scored the most team points with his second period pin over Jeremy Trinh of Fresno State. Fellow returning national qualifier Corey Shie also added a win during the Battle on the Midway, as did Cael McCormick and Bobby Heald.
What is the Battle on the Midway and how did this event come to be?
The Battle on the Midway is an annual dual hosted by Left Coast Wrestling in conjunction with USA Wrestling, California-USA Wrestling and SDIKWA (San Diego-Imperial Kids Wrestling Association). The event takes place on the flight deck of the USS Midway aircraft carrier which was used by U.S. Troops in Desert Storm and Vietnam.
The 2019 edition of the Battle on the Midway marked the third time that Fresno State has participated in a wrestling event on the aircraft carrier. The Bulldogs made history when they competed in this 'Battle' in 2017 for a dual against Air Force, marking the first time that a wrestling event has occurred on the USS Midway. The Air Force Falcons walked away with a 24-12 win in the inaugural dual, and one year later, Stanford picked up a similar 22-15 win in the 2018 event. The 2019 edition of the Battle on the Midway featured four teams and two duals for the first time and will be broadcast on national television for the second year in a row.
"This is such a boost for the entire sport of wrestling to be able to have such a unique event like this on one of the most famous aircraft carriers ever commissioned," Fresno State head coach Troy Steiner said in school's press release before the event.