ST. LOUIS – A fairytale season deserves a storybook ending and that’s exactly what Wisconsin wrestling senior Connor Medbery will get Saturday night as he will compete in the finals of the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Medbery (HWT) will face Olympic gold medalist, three-time NCAA finalist and three-time All-American Kyle Snyder of Ohio State.
Medbery earned his spot in the finals after defeating Virginia Tech’s Ty Walz for the third time this season and sixth time in his career. Medbery clinched his first trip to the big stage with a tight 4-3 decision.
After a scoreless first period, Walz escaped early in the second to take a 1-0 lead, but it would be the last lead he had in the match. Medbery struck at the 19-second mark, taking down Walz for a 2-1 advantage. The Loveland, Colorado, native then escaped four seconds into the third period to go up 3-1 on his Virginia Tech opponent. Walz notched a takedown at the 1:17 mark but Medbery escaped just two seconds later and capped off the 4-3 victory.
Fourth-seeded Isaac Jordan (165) wrestled the No. 1 seed, Isaiah Martinez, tough but fell 2-1 in the semifinals match. Martinez escaped at the 1:55 mark and carried a 1-0 lead until Jordan escaped to tie it up 1-1 at the 23-second mark in the third. Martinez finally received a stall call with three seconds left in the bout but he clinched the win with the riding time point.
Junior Andrew Crone (149) lost a tough match to No. 15 seed Kenny Theobold of Rutgers in the bloodround. Theobold struck early in the first and then extended his lead in the final minute of the first period with four nearfall points, giving him a 6-0 edge headed into the second.
Theobold escaped in the second to take a 7-0 lead into the third. Crone went in on a shot and scored in the third before he was awarded a penalty point, but it wasn’t enough as he fell 7-3 to the Scarlet Knight.
The fifth session will start at 10 a.m. CT where Jordan will face Daniel Lewis (Missouri) to fight for a spot in the third-place match. Jordan beat Lewis 5-3 in the All-Star Classic at the beginning of the season.
The parade of All-Americans will start at 6:35 p.m. before the final session at 7 p.m. Fans voted for the 184-pound matchup to be the final bout of the evening.
Notes to Know:
-Medbery is the fifth heavyweight finalist in program history. UW has only had one heavyweight champion: Jeff Walter, 1996.
-Medbery is the 10th heavyweight All-American in program history.
-Wisconsin is tied for 11th in the team race with Lehigh. The Badgers have 36 team points. Penn State leads the team race with 121 points. Ohio State is in second with 89.5 points and Oklahoma State is in third with 86 points.
-The one-point margin of victory in Jordan’s 2-. loss to Martinez was the closest any opponent has come to Martinez all season.
-Jordan is also the only wrestler that Martinez did not score a takedown on all season long.
-Crone went 3-2 in his first-ever NCAA championships and earned 2.00 team points.
Senior Connor Medbery: “Yeah, I think it was a good semifinal win and I’m just excited for the finals, excited for the opportunity to go and compete for a national title.”
On what he has to do to edge Kyle Snyder:
MEDBERY: Yeah, learning from that experience at Big Tens, that was kind of a warm up. So trying to build off that and take things away from that. I think I was able to stop a lot of his shots, but I think I need to get to some of my own and be able to score off his shots, and I think that’s kind of what I did, started doing towards the end of the match, and that’s when I got my take down. Building off that, obviously he’s a great competitor and it’s going to be a hard seven minutes, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
On if he would be here without his redshirt Olympic season:
MEDBERY: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. I don’t know if I would be. I think I made some great strides over this past year, and a lot of that has to do with being able to do down to Ohio State and train with Trevell and Kyle and those guys. So I was down there quite a bit and then a couple other universities. It was a great experience just to be able to have that opportunity and to learn from those experienced guys that have been successful at a high level.
On getting the edge over Ty Walz:
MEDBERY: Yeah, you know, I think beating him once is pretty tough and I’ve had to beat him three times this year, so I think just trying to take the challenge head on, know what kind of match it is, know what kind of style it’s going to be, and it’s going to be aggressive, and it turns into a wrestling match. I know there’s a stereotype with heavyweights that it’s just kind of pushing around and stuff, but I think that’s changing a lot, and I think these — look at the semifinalists, I was the biggest one at 260, and just being able to move well and being able to circle and get off shots and get to your own attacks is really important.
On Snyder being undersized:
MEDBERY: Yeah, you know, I think that’s one of the advantages I have is being a little bit bigger and being — just being able to use my size to wear on him so in the third period if I need a takedown or need to ride him out or something, I can do that. But that’s easier said than done, obviously, but I think it’s something that I need to use to my advantage, and maybe it’s not so much him undersized but using my size to my advantage.
On Snyder’s injury earlier in the session:
MEDBERY: You know, I did hear that. I’m not sure what the extent of it is or anything, but I’m just going to try to focus on my match and focus on getting to my attacks, and obviously if he’s taking shots, I need to stuff him and try to get points. I’m going to try to do that and come out on top.