Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Job’s not finished for sophomore wrestler

Mallinder wrestling against UW-Parkside Nov. 1 in the Kachel Gymnasium. (Eli Bartels)

November 3, 2022. An anxious Dominik Mallinder steps toward the center of a Kolf Sports Center mat, awaiting the first whistle of his collegiate wrestling career with UW-Whitewater. The nervous freshman then met his opponent: UW-Oshkosh senior Denis Murphy, a top conference competitor who placed sixth at the 2022 WIAC Wrestling Championship.

Yet, as the first period came and went, all of the butterflies suddenly vanished from Mallinder’s body. At the end of the day, it was just a match. Four minutes later, the final score sat at a 14-10 decision in favor of Mallinder, giving the Warhawks their first points of the 2022-23 season.

After that first win, one thing became clear: you do not want Mallinder as your challenger.

“His work ethic is great, and he’s very tough and has a good wrestling style,” Whitewater wrestling head coach Matt Zwaschka said. “I think that rubs off on everybody on the team because he’s always busting his butt in the wrestling room, in the weight room, as hard as he can.”

Now a sophomore Human Performance major, Mallinder has already grown into one of the best Division III wrestlers in the country. As of March 15, he is currently ranked No. 4 at 133 pounds, and recently notched a sixth-place finish at the 2024 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships.

“The ultimate goal is a national championship, and in terms of short-term goals: All-American by senior year, and I’m trying to get the Academic All-American as well,” Mallinder said before the 2024 championships.

Mallinder’s wrestling journey began when he was six years old. After attending a Lake Park High School (Roselle, Illinois) youth camp, he immediately fell in love with the sport. He continued to improve his craft, wrestling at many different levels, including at Lake Park High School as a student.

“It was hard getting adjusted to the high school level, but I got used to it,” Mallinder said.

Even with the struggles, he qualified for the IHSA 3A Boys Wrestling State Tournament twice, never placing at the prestigious event full of some of the country’s best high school wrestlers.

Committing to Whitewater to continue his wrestling career was a very easy decision, as he already had a few friends on the wrestling team, and he loved the coaching staff and the school’s atmosphere.

“We’ve been through a lot of stuff together on and off the mat,” teammate Ryan Riser said. “I’d like to do whatever it takes to see him win.”

Mallinder’s collegiate career got off to a hot start with the win over Murphy, and the early success elevated Mallinder to the national spotlight, ranking just outside of the 133-pound top 10 for most of the season. Despite the recognition, the rankings proved to be strictly a confidence booster for Mallinder.

“I wouldn’t put it above anything else, but obviously anything can happen.” Mallinder said. “No. 1 seed can always get upset or beat on any day. It doesn’t really matter too much to me.”

Mallinder continued to work hard, eventually winning both the WIAC Championship and the Upper Midwest Regional’s 133-pound brackets. He etched his name into the NCAA DIII Championships in only his first collegiate season, but his year abruptly ended after going 0-2 at nationals, eliminating him from the bracket.

Despite the bitter loss, Mallinder used it as motivation to work harder for the next season. His 2023-24 season was a significant improvement, finishing the year with a 25-8 record and a sixth-place finish at the 2024 championships.

“It is a strange feeling [being one of the country’s best wrestlers], but it is a lot of joy and bliss for the sport,” Mallinder said. “If you just put forth all of your effort and you work really hard, you can make things happen.”

On the mat, Mallinder is a relentless wrestler with quick reaction time on defense. On offense, he is extremely aggressive, shifty and focused on having his way in the match. It is rare to find someone of his caliber who can wrestle at full force for seven minutes.

“He’s one of the fastest wrestlers I’ve seen,” Zwaschka said. “Extremely quick with side-to-side and changing levels of getting somebody’s leg.”

Off the mat, Mallinder and the entire wrestling team have a great bond, hanging out with the team constantly and having fun with them. He is an easygoing person who does not only live and breathe wrestling.

“When I’m not in the wrestling room, I don’t want to think about wrestling,” Mallinder said. “Get my mind off the wrestling mat.”

But most importantly, Mallinder sets a standard not just as a wrestler but as a student-athlete at Whitewater. His dedication and work ethic he puts toward athletics, along with his goal to earn Academic All-American honors by the end of his career, proves that his impact as a Warhawk is immeasurable.

“He’s a great kid and we are happy to have him around,” Zwaschka said. “We would love to have one of him at every weight class.”

Now hoisting a career collegiate record of 55-22, the positives continue to overflow as there are still two seasons left of Mallinder reigning terror in purple and white.

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

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