MADISON – If you are ever fortunate enough to meet Brett Hochstaetter, it won’t take long to realize that he is a wrestler at heart.
The redshirt senior isn’t afraid to work hard and doesn’t seem particularly interested in quitting.
All things considered, it would have been easy for Hochstaetter to mail it in this season. In his four previous years on campus he made just two starts, both came in 2013 and both were losses.
Hochstaetter hasn’t competed in the last 13 months. And an ACL surgery sidelined him for the entirety of this season, his last with the program.
But none of this stopped him from putting in the effort to be a good teammate. In true wrestler fashion, the South Milwaukee native continues to embrace the grind even though he will never wrestle another competitive match.
“The grind: it’s a blessing and a curse. You want to keep working hard and getting better, but it can also grind you down and make you weak and worn out,” Hochstaetter said. “But once you build back up, there’s no better feeling.”
As Hochstaetter sees it, camaraderie is an import aspect of wrestling. In his profile on uwbadgers.com, he even listed “the tight brotherhood” as his favorite thing about Wisconsin wrestling. That’s why he has made it a priority to stick it out and spend time with his teammates.
“It’s a tight-knit group we have, brothers that are able to push you and push each other,” Hochstaetter said.” You want to get on the mat and be with your brothers. I still lift with the guys. I come in and do workouts when I can. I’m always making sure I’m still around everybody.”
Through working out with his teammates and being engaged and supportive during duals, Hochstaetter has gracefully accepted the hand he was dealt. But sitting on the bench hasn’t always been easy.
“Just seeing matches where you wish you were in that position to be able to get that takedown at the last second or get that escape when your team needs you the most,” Hochstaetter said. “You want to be able to fill those shoes.”
Last Sunday marked the final dual of Hochstaetter’s career. He was honored as part of the Senior Day festivities along with teammates Brock Horwath and Nic Veling.
“It was a mix [of emotions]. I was really excited for the dual,” Hochstaetter said. “But knowing it was the last one ever made it kind of sad at the same time.”
Hochstaetter looked on as the Badgers took care of business against Northwestern, downing the Wildcats 38-3.
The match brought a lot of excitement and Hochstaetter, like his teammates, was part of it every step of the way, offering encouragement when needed and joining in on the many celebrations that came as Wisconsin won nine of the day’s 10 bouts.
As the crowd filed out of the Field House after the match, Hochstaetter spent some time reflecting on his favorite memories during his five-year run with the program.
He could have mentioned any personal triumph. Frankly, it would be hard to wrestle at the college level for five years and not have at least a handful of memorable accomplishments.
Instead, he discussed the joy of seeing one his “brothers” succeed at the highest level. Back in 2014, (then) No.7 Isaac Jordan knocked off No.1 James Green of Nebraska and No.2 Derek St. John of Iowa in the same weekend.
“Zeke Jordan had St. John on Sunday who was ranked No.2 and was a returning national champion. And he had James Green on Friday,” Hochstaetter said. “Seeing him get those huge wins within a weekend was awesome. I don’t think I ever heard the Field House get louder than that.”
With college coming to a close, Hochstaetter hopes to land a job as a social studies teacher. He also wants to coach wrestling if the situation allows.
His career on the mat didn’t end the way he wanted, but it seems that wrestling has prepared him for whatever lies ahead.
“You have to learn to perform when you’re tired. In wrestling or at your job, things aren’t always going to go your way,” Hochstaetter said. “You have to keep pushing and grinding to get what you want. No other sport teaches lessons quite like that.”