Mitch Hull lived in Colorado for two decades and spent a lot of that time traveling the world, but he never wandered far from his Wisconsin roots.
Hull was a multi-sport standout at Evansville High School. He tried his hand playing football at Kansas State before coming to the University of Wisconsin and becoming a world-class wrestler.
A two-time All-American for the Badgers who twice competed in the World Championships, Hull worked as a college coach at UW and Purdue before becoming the national team director for USA Wrestling, which is headquartered in Colorado Springs.
When Hull stepped down from that prestigious post last July to become executive director to the newly created Wisconsin Regional Training Center, he also became a volunteer administrative assistant and coach at UW under longtime coach Barry Davis.
Hull’s connections, background and a dose of good luck helped pave the way for what amateur wrestling enthusiasts from all over the U.S. will see Friday through Sunday at the Dane County Coliseum.
USA Wrestling will hold its world team trials there, bringing Olympians, world champions, NCAA titlists and top junior competitors under one roof. At stake are berths on the American teams that will compete in the senior world freestyle championships for men and women as well as the freestyle and Greco Roman teams that will wrestle in the world junior championships.
Junior-level competition (ages 17 to 20) will be held Friday with a session at 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Senior-level bouts begin at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Individual tickets are available at the site or through Ticketmaster. Teams should contact the Madison Ticket Agency at 608-267-3995.
The event was supposed to be staged in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but facility issues on the Michigan campus forced it to be relocated on short notice. It just so happened Madison, already in the mix to host the event in 2015, had a workable solution and a willing set of partners that includes the Wisconsin Wrestling Federation, the Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association and the Madison Area Sports Commission.
Organizers didn’t have time to adequately line up corporate sponsors and promote the event — something that will certainly be addressed here next year if USA Wrestling gives its blessing — so the trials will just have to stand on the merit of their content.
That approach is just fine when you get a look at the marquee. It includes a three-headed rivalry on the men’s side, a state-born pioneer on the women’s side and a celebration of enduring greatness.
The senior men’s 163-pound weight class alone is worth the price of admission. That’s where reigning world and Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs, the charismatic ambassador of the sport, will face a field that includes David Taylor, the electrifying Penn State product fresh off winning his second straight Hodge Trophy as the top collegiate wrestler, and former UW national champion Andrew Howe.
All three have a tantalizing history of confrontations that date back to the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials. You may have to go back to the days of former UW legend Lee Kemp and the late Dave Schultz to find such talent crammed into one weight class.
The women’s 105.5-pound division is where Alyssa Lampe, the former WIAA state runner-up from Tomahawk and world bronze medalist, will likely have to deal with Olympic bronze medalist Clarissa Chun. While in high school, Lampe became the first girl in state history to qualify for the WIAA meet, advancing to the title match in 2006.
UW redshirt freshman Ricky Robertson is a favorite in the junior session, while Badgers assistant coach Kyle Ruschell and sophomore Connor Medbery will compete in the senior division.
The event will be used to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the American team that placed second in the world championships in 1979. The club was dominated by wrestlers from the state, including Kemp, who won the gold medal, and former UW greats Jim Haines and Russ Hellickson, who earned silver medals.
John Peterson, who grew up in Comstock and wrestled at UW-Stout, also claimed a silver medal, while Laurent Soucie, another former Badgers wrestler, was a member of the squad. Dan Gable, the global wrestling icon who coached that U.S. team, will be on hand as well.