After the conclusion of the Big Ten conference tournament, qualifications have been given out for the NCAA Championships. With an at-large bid for Austin Gomez, the Wisconsin Badgers now have eight wrestlers qualified for the tournament. The Badgers will now have to prepare for the upcoming tournament March 16th-18th in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Wisconsin Badgers Wrestling Qualifies Eight for NCAA Tourney
Earlier this morning, the NCAA wrestling selection committee gave out 47 at-large bids for ranked wrestlers. 283 student athletes have qualified through their performance in conference tournaments. The at-large bids are selected based on quality wins, method of win, competition difficulty, and coaches rankings.
The time is now. The @NCAAWrestling Championships are only days away.
Let's #JumpAround with @ChrisBono and the Badgers pic.twitter.com/MVSxqPmH04
— Wisconsin Wrestling (@BadgerWrestling) March 7, 2023
Austin Gomez, who is a year removed from his Big Ten conference title at 149 pounds, has been selected for an at-large bid. With Gomez making it in despite his injury and tournament, that brings the total to eight Wisconsin wrestlers who will be heading to Tulsa. Seven Badgers qualified over the weekend with their placings in the Big Ten conference tournament. The Badgers who will be traveling to Oklahoma are the following wrestlers:
- Eric Barnett: 125 pounds, 5th place at Big Tens
- Taylor LaMont: 133 pounds, Tournament qualifier
- Joe Zargo: 141 pounds, 7th place at Big Tens
- Austin Gomez: 149 pounds, At-large bid selection
- Garrett Model: 157 pounds, Tournament qualifier
- Dean Hamiti: 165 pounds, First place winner at Big Tens
- Braxton Amos: 197 pounds, 7th place at Big Tens
- Trent Hillger: 285 pounds, 6th place at Big Tens
Tomorrow, March 8th, the committee will meet again to begin the seeding and bracket creation for the tournament. The Wisconsin Badgers certainly have some interesting story lines going into the Championships. Dean Hamiti, who won the 165 pound Big Ten bracket, looks to make a run and get revenge against top ranked David Carr of Iowa State. The young sensation certainly has the ability and determination to capture first place at the NCAA Championships.
Austin Gomez lost his first match after losing out on points for an illegal slam. In the second match, Gomez suffered a leg injury that ended his tournament. It has been a tough, injury plagued year for Gomez, but now more than ever his goal is to win. Sammy Sasso has taken the crown at 149 pounds at the Big Tens, and Gomez would love to face him again in the tournament.
Trent Hillger will be entering his fifth trip to the NCAA Championships following his qualification. Hillger has had a great season despite tough competition in the Big Ten conference this year at heavyweight. Hillger is a three-time NCAA All-American wrestler and proved so with a record of 14-6 this year. The Graduate senior will get one more shot at glory for the Wisconsin Badgers in a few days.
The sophomore Joe Zargo earned his second qualification to the NCAA Championships and will be traveling to Tulsa. Zargo had a tough year going 9-10 overall at 141 pounds for the Badgers. Despite his record, Zargo faced tough competition and bounced back by earning his qualification with an excellent tournament win. Zargo certainly wanted to win the 141 pound bracket, but with the changes he has made he could make a run at the NCAA Championships.
Coaches Chris Bono and Jon Reader will get to take the Badgers into battle once more this season for the greatest glory of all. The 2022-23 season was a difficult year for the team and expectations were not fully met. However, the team still has plenty of potential and clearly is in the right hands for the future. Hopefully, the Badgers will be able to make some noise in Tulsa.
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