Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Wrestling succeeds with WIAC Championships looming

Sophomore+Dominik+Mallinder+announced+as+the+winner+of+the+133-pound+match.+
Kasrston Koelbringer
Sophomore Dominik Mallinder announced as the winner of the 133-pound match.

The UW-Whitewater Wrestling team entered the 2023-24 season with questions surrounding their potential as a team. Coming off a second-place tie in the WIAC Championships, a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Upper Midwest Regionals, and Jaritt Shinhoster winning his second consecutive national title at 184 pounds, the Warhawks looked to capitalize on their prior success.

There was one problem: eight seniors, including Shinhoster, departed from the program as wrestlers after last season. On top of the departures, 25 of the 32 wrestlers on the 2023-24 roster are underclassmen, with 16 freshmen and nine sophomores.

“We knew that we would have a different group this year with some younger athletes,” head coach Matt Zwaschka said. “It is fun to have a new challenge and to work with this young talented group of athletes.”

Even with the sheer amount of youth, the Warhawks continue to compete and make waves nationally. They are 10-7 in duals and rank 15th in the country in dual format and 13th in tournament format according to theopenmat.com.

“All the underclassmen understand we might not have the college-level experience yet, but we don’t let that affect us,” freshman wrestler Scott Busse said. “We are a young team that is very talented with nothing to lose, all these other teams have something to lose.”

The Warhawks opened the season with a dual loss to DII No. 3 UW-Parkside 11-28, with three wrestlers picking up wins. Since opening against the Rangers, the Warhawks have won several impressive matchups, including wins over No. 10 Castleton, No. 21 Dubuque and No. 24 Ohio Northern University. 

For conference matchups, they sit 2-3 with wins over UW-Oshkosh and UW-Stevens Point. Their conference losses to No. 5 UW-Eau Claire and twice to No. 3 UW-La Crosse put a chip on the team’s shoulders as the Feb. 17 WIAC Conference Championships loom.

“I’m looking forward to wrestling [Tristan] Massie from Eau Claire again because he is one of my two losses this year,” said freshman wrestler Brayden Peet, who is ranked seventh in the country at 165 pounds.

In tournament format, the Warhawks have competed in some tough invitationals yet have greatly competed in every one of them. In the Dec. 2 MSOE Invite, the Warhawks placed second, only behind No. 1 Augsburg and ahead of teams like No. 6 UW-Eau Claire and No. 19 Central (all rankings in Team Tournament format).

All of this success would not be possible without the chemistry, work ethic, and development of the team. While the roster may be young, the leadership and dedication is classic Warhawk fashion.

“The team has bought into the process of getting better each day and focusing on that,” Zwaschka said. “When it is time to go compete this team competes extremely hard and on a high level.”

The youth also reflects in the national rankings. Seven Warhawks are nationally ranked and six of them are underclassmen. One of them is used to the national spotlight: sophomore Dominik Mallinder.

“Dom is a very hard worker, and he put a lot of work in the weight room this off season and you can see the result of that,” Zwaschka said. “He has grown a lot mentally from last year to this year and is doing a good job right now of wrestling his style on the mat.”

In 2023, Mallinder was the WIAC champion at 133 pounds as a freshman and went undefeated in the Upper Midwest Regional tournament. He clinched his trip to the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships where he was eliminated after an 0-2 start.

With an impressive 31 wins as a freshman, he had a lot to capitalize off of as he entered the 2023-24 season. Being ranked sixth in the country at 133 pounds speaks for itself.

“Having a successful freshman season last year gave me a good foundation to build on and an understanding of the hard work it takes to be successful in this sport,” Mallinder said.

The Warhawks still have a long journey ahead of them. They have two more regular season events to end the season, facing off against UW-Platteville Feb. 1 and competing in the Don Parker Open Feb. 3. The WIAC Championships kick off the postseason Feb. 17, the Upper Midwest Regional March 1 and 2, and the NCAA DIII Championships March 15.

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About the Contributor
Chase Keller, Assistant Women's Sports Editor

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