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Graff places third at 2013 Big Ten Championships

ON WISCONSIN <b>Tyler Graff earned a third-place title at the Big Ten championships and is headed to the NCAA Tournament in two weeks.</b>
Tyler Graff earned a third-place title at the Big Ten championships and is headed to the NCAA Tournament in two weeks.

March 10, 2013

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill.-- Headed by Tyler Graff, who won a third-place title at 133 lbs., four Wisconsin wrestlers earned spots on the podium during the final day of the 2013 Big Ten Championships at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill., as the Badgers finished in tenth place as a team.

Thomas Kelliher, Jackson Hein and Connor Medbery also placed for the Badgers, finishing in eight-place at 141 lbs., seventh-place at 197 lbs., and fourth-place at heavyweight, respectively.

With the four placers, Wisconsin finished tenth overall as a team with 37 points, just one point behind ninth-place Purdue. Wisconsin picked up an individual award as well, as Medbery was named the 2013 Big Ten Wrestling Freshman of the Year.

By virtue of their performance at the Big Ten tournament, three Badger grapplers have automatically qualified for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, which will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, in two weeks. Graff (133 lbs.), Hein (197 lbs.) and Medbery (Hwt.) will represent Wisconsin at the national tournament.

After the first day of Big Tens, UW head coach Barry Davis said that he hoped his team would “bounce back” after sustaining a number of close losses, and he believes they did, finishing with four placers and wins over a number of ranked opponents.

“I think they did real well,” Davis said. “Our guys beat a couple highly ranked guys. It was a good finish for us, for sure.”

Graff led the way for the Badgers on the final day of the Big Ten championships, going 2-0 on his way to a third-place finish. In his first match of the day, the Loveland, Colo., native pinned Illinois’ Daryl Thomas in the first period and followed that up with his second win of the tournament over Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes to place third.

Graff said that being in and getting a feel for the tough situations the Big Ten tournament put him in sets him up well for success at the NCAA tournament, and his head coach believes the experience and confidence Graff gained will be invaluable in Des Moines as well.

“I think he wrestled well,” Davis said of Graff. “He beat two ranked guys. I think he got a lot of confidence that he can compete against the top guys and he should be ready to go in two weeks.”

Medbery came into the day with hopes of a third-place finish as well, but after a win over Michigan’s Ben Apland, he fell to Iowa’s Bobby Telford in the third-place match. Still, the newly minted conference freshman of the year has come a long way this year to become one of the top heavyweights not only in the conference, but in the country, something that Davis credits to the work Medbery put in this season with volunteer assistant coach—and former Badgers heavyweight—Eric Bugenhagen.

Davis added that Medbery’s progress this season was measurable on a week-by-week basis.

“He’s in the toughest weight class in the country and certainly the toughest in the Big Ten,” Davis said of Medbery. “Each week he got better and gained more confidence.”

It was not just Medbery’s progress that Davis and Wisconsin saw this season. The Badgers improved their conference finish by two places compared to last season and had two more wrestlers earn spots on the podium.

Following its tenth place finish at Big Tens, Wisconsin has next week off before sending its three representative to the NCAA Tournament, which will take place March 21-23, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.  

Session III and IV Results:

133 lbs.:
No. 3 Tyler Graff (WIS) fall No. 5 Daryl Thomas (ILL), 2:27
Third-place match:
No. 3 Tyler Graff (WIS) dec. Chris Dardanes (MINN), 4-1

141 lbs.:
Seventh-place match:
No. 8 Camryn Jackson (MICH) fall Tom Kelliher (WIS), 3:24

174 lbs.:
Non-scoring match: No. 7 Lee Munster (NU) dec. Scott Liegel (WIS), 5-2

197 lbs.:
Seventh-place match:
No. 7 Jackson Hein (WIS) dec. No. 5 Braden Atwood (PUR), 4-2

No. 3 Connor Medbery (WIS) dec. No. 8 Ben Apland (MICH), 4-0
Third-place match:
No. 4 Bobby Telford (IOWA) dec. No. 3 Connor Medbery (WIS), 5-2

Final Team Standings:
1. Penn State – 151.0 points; 2. Minnesota – 139.0 3.; Iowa – 133.5; 4. Ohio State – 109.5; 5. Illinois – 85.5; 6. Michigan – 75.0; 7. Nebraska – 61.0; 8. Northwestern – 56.0; 9. Purdue – 38.0; 10. Wisconsin – 37.0; 11. Indiana – 30.5; 12. Michigan State – 22.0


Ryan Evans
UW Athletic Communications 

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