June 10, 2013
As part of its year-end look back, UW Athletics profiles 10 candidates this week leading up to the announcement of the 2012-13 Athlete of the Year awards this Friday. Today, we profile Athlete of the Year candidate Tyler Graff of the wrestling team.
MADISON, Wis. -- Perhaps no individual athlete was more valuable to his team this season than redshirt junior Tyler Graff was for the Wisconsin wrestlers.
Returning from his Olympic redshirt year in 2011-12, Graff led the way for a much-improved Badgers squad that notched four more Big Ten dual victories than it did a season ago, while collecting a plethora of individual successes along the way.
After a 33-win season that put him among the Badgers’ career leaders in win percentage, Graff became just the ninth three-time All-American in Wisconsin history with a third-place finish, at 133 lbs., at the 2013 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. The bronze medal was Graff’s highest career finish at the NCAA meet, following back-to-back fifth-place finishes in 2010 and 2011.
In addition to his performance at the NCAA championships, Graff was also the third-place winner at the 2013 Big Ten Championships and earned a pair of top-three finishes at two prestigious national tournaments. He placed third at 141 lbs., at the Cliff Keen Invite and at 133 lbs., at the Midlands Championships.
The Loveland, Colo., native was among the nation’s elite wrestlers throughout the season, ranking in the top 10 in his weight class for the duration of the 2012-13 campaign and finishing as the No. 3-ranked grappler at 133 lbs.
Graff was invaluable for the Badgers this season, leading the team in wins (33), dual wins (13), dual points (56), Big Ten wins (11), wins over ranked opponents (14), technical falls (7) and major decisions (7).
All that considered it should be no surprise that Graff was named the Badgers’ Most Valuable Player at the end of the season.