NCAA

Badgers ready to invade the Big Apple

Five Badgers will descend upon Madison Square Garden on Thursday as the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships begin in New York City.

No.2 seed Isaac Jordan (165 pounds) and No.12 Ryan Taylor (133) lead the way for the Badgers. Both are making their third appearances at the NCAA Tournament.

Ricky Robertson (174) is at the national tournament for the second time in his career, while Johnny Jimenez (125) and Ryan Christensen (184) are appearing on the big stage for the first time.

Jordan (25-0), who has earned a pair of seventh place finishes at the NCAAs in his career, will face Adam Fierro (17-9) of California State-Bakersfield in the first round.

The redshirt junior from Urbana, Ohio is not only seeking to become an All-American for the third time in his career, he’s on a quest to become Wisconsin’s first national champion since Andrew Howe back in 2010.

“So Zeke right now, he’s working on some small stuff, and I think he’s peaking right,” UW head coach Barry Davis said during a press conference earlier in the week. “We talked again the other day in the office, looked at the video with him, preparing for certain guys. And I think we’re on track right now, and I think he’s on track, and I think his mind is in a really good spot.”

Jordan is 25-0 and one of only two undefeated wrestlers in his bracket. Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer, a Port Washington, Wis. native, is the other. Dieringer, the top seed who is a two-time national champion, enters the weekend at 28-0.

If we get to the finals, we’ve got a plan there, but gotta get there first,” Davis said. “But right now [Jordan is] on track, moving in the right direction.”

Taylor (9-5), who placed third at last year’s championships, will face Missouri’s Zach Synon (16-12) in his opening match.

Robertson (14-13), who was 2-2 at last year’s tournament, is set to take on Keaton Subjeck (20-7) of Stanford in a preliminary match at 174 pounds.

Should he win, Robertson would face No.5 Zach Brunson of Illinois in the first round of championship action.

Jimenez (18-14) will go toe-to-toe with the seven seed, Darian Cruz (28-5) of Lehigh, in an opening bout at 125 pounds.

“I think Johnny is wrestling pretty well, right now,” Davis said. “He’s won nine of his last 12 matches, so we’re training the right way. I’m excited about this weekend coming up.”

Christensen (18-18) faces No.10 Nate Brown (21-4) of Lehigh in the first round at 184.

None of the five Wisconsin wrestlers have previously wrestled the opponents they will face in their first match.

The tournament is double-elimination, so even a loss in the opening match won’t spell the end of the weekend.

Session 1 action is set to begin at 11 a.m. CT on Thursday with preliminary and first round matches.

Session to is slated for a 6 p.m. start for wrestle-back prelims and first round followed by the second round of championship matches and a consolation round.

Both of Thursday’s sessions will be available live on ESPNU.

All six sessions can be seen on WatchESPN with live stats available on Trackwrestling.com.

Check back to MadtownBadgers.com all weekend long for continued coverage of the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

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