A University of Wisconsin wrestler with significant ties to the Ohio wrestling community was killed in an automobile collision Thursday. Eli Stickley, a graduate of the famed Graham wrestling program in St. Paris, Ohio died after sustaining injuries in the crash on I-74 in Henry County, Illinois.
Stickley joined the Badgers in 2015, and finished sixth in the 141-pound class at the Big Ten tournament last season, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
His ties to the wrestling community in his home state ran deep, and he reached the pinnacle of success as a high school wrestler in his final season, before heading off to Madison. From the Wisconsin State Journal:
From Urbana, Ohio, Stickley was an Ohio Division II state champion at 120 pounds in 2014 with a 50-3 record.
Stickley's family has a long history with Badgers wrestling. His uncle, Jim Jordan, won NCAA championships in 1985 and 1986 and was a three-time All-American. He now represents Ohio's 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Another uncle, Jeff Jordan, wrestled for UW from 1983 to 1986.
Stickley's cousin, Isaac Jordan, competed for UW from 2012 to 2017.
"Our hearts are heavy today," the University said in a statement Friday. "The entire Badger Athletics family extends its most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of junior Eli Stickley, a student-athlete with our wrestling team, who passed away last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with Eli's family, friends, teammates and coaches."
His high school coach and uncle Jeff Jordan voiced the grief of the Graham wrestling program via Twitter:
So sad to lose such a great young man like Eli Stickley. The Graham wrestling community is devastated. He was the best! We miss him greatly.— Jeff Jordan (@rambo_jordan) July 6, 2018
Stickley's father, Todd, wrestled at Ohio State in the mid-1980s, and cousin J.D. committed to wrestle for the Buckeyes as part of the 2018 recruiting class.