April 15, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- Four members of the Wisconsin wrestling team and coaching staff will compete at the 2013 Las Vegas/ASICS U.S. Open this weekend, April 17-20, all vying for a spot in the U.S. World Team Trials, which will take place June 21-22 in Stillwater, Okla.
Current Badgers Tyler Graff and Jesse Thielke, as well as assistant coaches Kyle Ruschell and Trevor Brandvold, are set to wrestle in Las Vegas. Graff (60 kg/132 lbs.), Ruschell (66 kg/145.5 lbs.) and Brandvold (96 kg/211.5 lbs.) will compete at freestyle, while Thielke (60 kg/132 lbs.) will wrestle in the Greco-Roman competition.
The top seven finishers in each weight class will automatically qualify for the World Team Trials.
The Badgers are also sending four wrestlers to the ASICS Junior National Championships, which take place April 18-20 in Las Vegas. Isaac Jordan, T.J. Ruschell, Rylan Lubeck and Justin Koethe will all compete in freestlye for spots in the Junior U.S. World Team Trials.
“We have a lot of guys in the room that want to compete at the international level and that’s a thing you want to have,” head coach Barry Davis said. “That’s a good sign for the direction of our program.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of success in Las Vegas between both the younger and older guys,” he added. “People are going to get a chance to see where our program is going.”
Fresh off his third-place finish at last month’s NCAA championships, the three-time All-American Graff hopes to translate his collegiate success onto the national stage at this weekend’s U.S. Open. Graff is a top freestyle prospect and placed third at 60 kg at last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials. Graff is the No. 5-ranked 60 kg U.S. senior freestyle wrestler and is seeded No. 4 for the U.S. Open.
Making the transition from collegiate style wrestling to freestyle is one that Graff has successfully made before, and it’s that experience on the international level that Davis believes will benefit Graff in Las Vegas.
“He’s been here before,” Davis said of Graff. “There are changes he has to make, but the adjustments he’ll have to make are smaller than the ones he’s had to make in the past.”
Thielke will wrestle in the Greco-Roman competition at the U.S. Open, looking to build off his fourth place finish at the Olympic Trials last year, as well as his bronze medal finish at the 2012 FILA Junior World Championships. Thielke is the No. 4-ranked 60 kg Senior Greco-Roman wrestler in the United States and will surely be in the mix this weekend in Las Vegas.
The Badgers’ two assistant coaches, Ruschell and Brandvold, hope to see this season’s training pay off at the U.S. Open. Both were two-time All-Americans during their collegiate careers at Wisconsin and are beginning to replicate that type of success on the international stage, having placed well at tournaments this season.
“They made some great improvements this year,” Davis said of Ruschell and Brandvold. “They’ve had success at tournaments this year and I think they’ll be very successful and surprise a lot of different people.”
Ruschell is unranked among U.S. 66 kg freestyle wrestlers and is the No. 10 seed for the U.S. Open. Brandvold is the No. 7-ranked 96 kg U.S. freestyle wrestlers and is seeded No. 7 in Las Vegas.
The U.S. Open begins competition April 17, while the Junior National Championships get underway April 18.
UW Athletic Communications