Blugold wrestling takes on the Don Parker Open

UWEC wrestling team gives high-energy performances
Tristan Massie takes on South Dakota State’s Brock Fettig.
Tristan Massie takes on South Dakota State’s Brock Fettig.
Photo by Eli Benes

The UW-Eau Claire wrestling team participated in the Don Parker Open on Saturday, Feb. 3 at the McPhee Strength and Performance Center, with a total of 19 teams competing in the open.

The Blugolds enjoyed a win from fourth-year Tristan Massie, who was the champion in the 165-pound weight class. Massie said wrestling opponents from all over the country gave him confidence. 

“Before I had never really wrestled a lot of Division I guys,” Massie said. “Being able to put my moves out there against guys from anywhere gave me confidence.” 

After winning 6-5 in an overtime finish against South Dakota State’s Brock Fettig, Massie dominated in the championship match, winning 15-2.

Story continues below advertisement

In the championship, Massie’s physicality was shown. Using a plethora of power moves, Massie was firing on all cylinders and the crowd and his teammates were fired up and cheering him on.

Coach Tim Fader said Massie brings a lot to the Blugold team.

“He has been a big part of our program and is a very physical wrestler,” Fader said. 

This type of effort is the message for the team from Fader. 

“We talk about our effort a lot,” Fader said. “We always want to go out and compete with a high effort.” 

The Don Parker Open was home to a great story. Second-year Izzy Balsiger is thirty-one years old and competed in a collegiate wrestling match for the first time since 2013.

Balsiger previously attended UW-La Crosse from 2012-2013 then returned to college this year at UW-Eau Claire. Balsiger operates a kids’ wrestling club in the Chippewa Falls area.

“Izzy is a great story,” Fader said. “He had a swarm of kids that were watching his every move and he’s got some really fun techniques and an exciting style of wrestling to watch.”

Balsiger defeated Nebraska Wesleyan’s Ivan Duero by fall (1:18) and Augsburg’s Keno Vanier by fall (6:26). Balsiger competed in four high-energy and physical matches that concluded in him finishing fourth place in the 125-pound weight class. 

“I’m sure they were left impressed with his style of wrestling and energy.” Coach Fader said about the people who came and saw Balsiger compete.

It was apparent within the crowd how much it meant for Balsiger and the energy throughout his matches. He competed to the very second and gave it his all.

With it being a home match for the Blugolds, Massie it was important to be able to wrestle at home. 

“Atmosphere is big. Having my teammates behind me and my family coming to support me and to hear those loud voices for me was very good,” Massie said.

Fader was pleased with the support the team had for Massie in his championship match.

“I thought it was awesome that all his teammates and all these young guys got to watch him in the finals,” Fader said. “With the way he wrestles, that was a really big positive.”

As the season comes to an end, the Blugolds want to keep the same approach of giving high-effort performances and also compete. Fader is looking forward to the end of the season. 

“This last month of the season is going to be a fun one,” Fader said.

The 17-3 Blugolds wrestling team has a chance to compete for the WIAC Conference Championship and the NCAA National Championship. The team’s approach of high effort and energy is key to the team’s success and will be crucial in the next coming weeks.

UW-Eau Claire wrestling will next take on UW-Stevens Point at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9 at the Ade Olson Addition for senior and parents night. The Blugolds look to extend their winning streak to 11 Friday night.

Benes can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *