UW-Eau Claire wrestling takes down UW-Whitewater with tiebreaker

The Blugolds move to 3-0 in WIAC duals

Toby Mohr

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Photo by Shane Opatz

The Blugolds left with a tight 20-19 win, moving to 9-2 on the season

The UW-Eau Claire wrestling team took down UW-Whitewater with a come-from-behind rally to win in the tiebreaker.

The Blugolds, ranked ninth by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, traveled to UW-Whitewater to face the eighth-ranked Warhawks on Dec. 8. The Blugolds left with a tight 20-19 win, moving to 9-2 on the season and 3-0 in WIAC duals. 

The Blugolds took an early 13-7 lead winning three of the first five matchups. UW-Eau Claire’s Sam Melton won 17-6 by major decision and his cousin Chase Melton won his match with the Blugolds’ only pin of the night, according to Blugold Athletics.

UW-Whitewater responded, winning the next two matches to take a 16-13 lead. The teams split the following two matches to set up a 19-16 Warhawk lead heading into the final match.

UW-Eau Claire’s Jared Stricker won the last match 5-2 to even the score at 19-19, with the tiebreaker going to the Blugolds for the 20-19 victory. 

Blugolds’ head coach Tim Fader said the team knew it’d be a tough meet heading in, and he was proud of their ability to rally together.

“We know they’re a really good team and they’re not going to give you anything,” Fader said. “We meet each other a lot so we’re very familiar with their program.”  

Fader said the team’s biggest test was when Drew Kested went down with an injury and had to default the match, and six points to the Warhawks.

“That’s a tough thing on a team to default a match in a meet that’s really close,” he said. “Our team really overcame that and came all the way back and tied the meet and won on criteria.”

The tiebreaker criteria decided the meet by individual points scored. Sam Melton, a third-year special learning disabilities student, and his decisive 17-6 win helped to give the Blugolds the edge.

“Every time you go out there you have the team on your back and you’ve got to do your best and get the most points to help your team out,” Melton said. 

Melton said that the energy and support from his teammates gave him the confidence to get ready to go.

“I felt confident going into that match,” he said. “I took the guy down right away and I looked over at my team and they were going crazy. I smiled and just had a lot of fun and scored a lot of points.”

Melton said the team has developed strong chemistry and they know how to push each other, which Fader said helps the wrestler who is competing.

“Our team has a lot of energy and that’s felt by the wrestler on the mat,” Fader said. “Feeling that energy on your sideline is a great boost. It was a great college dual meet because there was that energy on both sides.”

The Blugolds take on third-ranked UW-La Crosse on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at home in the McPhee Center. 

Fader said if someone has not been to a college wrestling meet, this is the matchup to go to.

“You’ll see a lot of action,” Fader said. “These are the types of meets that make wrestling fans out of people who have never been to a meet. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

Melton said that with free pizza for the first 200 fans, he hopes students come out to enjoy an exciting top-ten matchup.

“It’s a great time for students to get some free food, take a break from studying for a bit and have fun watching a really good wrestling match,” Melton said.

Mohr can be reached at [email protected]