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The Division 1 NCAA tournament has officially concluded and it was so exciting! As fans we got to witness the highest of highs and lowest of lows, a true rollercoaster. Thank you to all that competed and toed the line in chase of a dream. The state of Wisconsin had 6 representatives at the national tournament and the Wisconsin Badgers had 8.

National qualifiers native to Wisconsin included Eric Barnett (125), Garrett Model (157), Keegan O’toole (165), Peyton Mocco (174), Parker Keckeisen (184) and Garrett Joels (HWT). If these 6 were their own team they would have scored 52 points placing 9th as a team and making them a top 10 team. This would be the breakdown of points.

Eric Barnett (125): 5 Points (R12/Bloodround)

Garrett Model (157): 1 Point (1-2)

Keegan O’toole (165): 23.5 Points (National Champ)

Peyton Mocco (174): 5.5 Points (All American 8th place)

Parker Keckeisen (184): 17 Points (2nd Runner Up)

Garret Joles (HWT): 0 Points (1-2) (Joles did win his pigtail but it does not count for points)

Looking at this it’s both exciting and a little bit sad. It both highlights the great state of Wisconsin and what we are capable of. Wisconsin had 3 All Ameircans this year and likely would have had a 4th if Stephen Buchanan wrestled this year. On the other hand it also shows that they are not on the same team and 4 of the 6 do not wrestle for our home team. 

I do believe our state is getting better and better and we will see more native Wisconsin wrestling names competing at a high level at the NCAA’s. However, by the numbers there is concern it will not be for our home team.

The Wisconsin Badgers competed at the National tournet and they sent 80% of their team to Nationals! A very solid number of wrestlers that we can be happy about. 8 of the 10 starters competed and of the 8 at nationals 2 became All Americans. As a team the Badgers finished in a tie for 16th place with 29 points. Here is the breakdown below.

Eric Barnett (125): 5 Points (R12/Bloodround)

Taylor Lamont (133): 0 Points (0-2)

Joey Zargo (141): 0 Points (0-2)

Austin Gomez (149): 3.5 Points (2-2)

Garrett Model (157): 1 Point (1-2)

Dean Hamiti (165): 14 Points (All American 6th place)

Braxton Amos (197): 0 Points (0-1) (Unfortunately Braxton got injured)

Trent Hilger (HWT): 5.5 Points (All American 8th place)

Like I said before, the tournament is a rollercoaster of emotions. You feel a gut punch when Barnett who has AA twice already falls just a match short. Or when the man Gomez loses, because you know he is capable of beating anyone in the country. Then you ride the high of a guy like Trent Hilger who has been a staple of the Badgers program for so many years goes out once again as an All American. When Hamiti reaches the podium you feel both happy and sad because he was right there to do even better, but yet he is still top 6 in the country. Truly a rollercoaster.

I believe this roster has a lot of talent and the guys are capable of achieving more, but as much as I can believe it we still need to see it. Sometimes things just don’t roll your way and I can understand that, but it doesn’t mean that I cannot be upset with the result. Truthfully I expected more than 16th place as a team and as a state I believe it is okay to have these expectations. Madison is a great school and Wisconsin is a strong wrestling state and we as fans expect to be a strong wrestling school.

Next year we will return 5 of the 8 national qualifiers, Barnett, Zargo, Gomez, Hamiti, Amos. Barnett is now a 2x All American (8th & 7th) and 3x national qualifier, Zargo is a 2x national qualifier, Gomez is a 1x All American (4th) and 3x national qualifier (2 as a Badger), Hamiti is a 2x All American and national qualifier (6th & 6th) and Amos is now a 2x national qualifier.

I do not know what next year will hold for the Badgers but I hope something great. As a state we can both be proud of our Wisconsin Natives and be bummed for our home team. Going into next year we need more.