Wisconsin Clinches Fifth Straight Border Battle Over Minnesota

  • Post Author
    by Sports director
  • Post Date
    Sat May 04 2024

By Krissy Birdsall

The University of Wisconsin-Madison capped off a successful year in athletics by defeating rival Minnesota in the annual Border Battle. With the victory, the Badgers clinch its fifth straight Border Battle over the Golden Gophers and tie the all-time series at 10-10. Although the Border Battle officially concludes on May 19th with rowing, Wisconsin holds an unbeatable 555-125 differential over Minnesota.

The Border Battle, officially in its 20th year, is an all-sports rivalry between the neighboring schools. The competition serves as an extension of the football rivalry for Paul Bunyon's Axe, which dates back to 1890. The first all-sports Border Battle competition began in 2004 and featured head-to-head competitions in football, basketball, hockey, softball, volleyball, soccer, tennis and wrestling. The two schools expanded the Border Battle in 2005-2006 to include competitions in 20 sports. For sports that do not have head-to-head matchups, Border Battle points are awarded to the team with a higher finish at the Big Ten Championship.

For all but three competitions held between the Badgers and Golden Gophers this academic year, Wisconsin holds a 19-5-1 record against Minnesota. Below highlights Wisconsin's top five Border Battle moments in 2023-2024:

5. Women's soccer claims first points for Wisconsin en route to NCAA Tournament breadth

The Wisconsin women's soccer team kicked off Border Battle competition with a 3-1 victory over Minnesota on Sep. 28. The Badgers scored early in the match from a penalty kick converted by Emma Jaskaniec, and claimed a 2-0 lead entering halftime courtesy of Taylor Gordon in the 45th minute. Maia Richters solidified the victory with a goal in the 61th minute to claim the first Border Battle victory of the season.

With the victory, the Badgers women's soccer team extended their undefeated streak to 12-straight games against the Golden Gophers. The win launched a strong start for Wisconsin athletics, who claimed the first seven Border Battle victories over Minnesota across soccer, men's hockey, cross country, volleyball and football.

4. Men's and Women's Golf sweep Border Battle at the Big Ten Championship

The Wisconsin men's and women's golf teams concluded a successful season by sweeping the Border Battle over Minnesota at the Big Ten Championship. The Wisconsin men's golf team tied for seventh in the conference while the women's golf team finished eighth. Both finishes were good enough to defeat rival Minnesota, who finished ninth in the women's competition and 13th in the men's championship.

The men's team was led by Jacob Beckman, who finished 15th overall after shooting 222 (70-74-78) in the three-day competition. The women's team shot their best team score on day three at 293 (+5) and was led by Chloe Chan who finished tied for 14th with a score of 216 (74-69-73) across the weekend.

3. Football takes back the Axe after two years, and becomes bowl-eligible in the process

In the oldest competition of the Border Battle rivalry, the Badgers' football team defeated Minnesota 28-14 on Nov. 25. Wisconsin, who lost the head-to-head matchup the previous two years, returned Paul Buynyon's Axe back to Madison in Luke Fickell's first year as head coach. Running back Braelon Allen was the first Badger to score, taking a five-yard carry into the endzone to tie the game 7-7 in the second quarter. Both teams found the endzone again before the end of the first half, but Wisconsin's two touchdowns in the third quarter propelled the Badgers to victory over the Golden Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium.

Wisconsin's victory helped the cardinal and white claim bowl-eligibility for the 22nd straight year. Additionally, the Badgers took the lead in the all-time series over the Golden Gophers at 63-62-8 all time.

2. Men's XC win's sixth-straight Big Ten Championship, women complete the Border Battle sweep

The Wisconsin men's cross country dominated the Big Ten Championships, claiming its sixth-straight Big Ten Championship with 19 points. The Badgers had the fourth lowest score in conference history, with scoring finishers placing first, second, fourth, fifth and seventh. Additionally, Wisconsin's sixth and seventh runners placed 10th and 26th overall. 

The cardinal and white were led by Bob Liking, who won his third straight individual Big Ten title, crossing the line in 23 minutes, 57 seconds for the 8-kilometer race. Liking became the seventh athlete to win three straight individual Big Ten Titles and the first since former Badger Simon Bairu, who won three-straight between 2003-2005. Liking led a squad this year that had four first-team All-Big Ten honorees and one second-team All-Big Ten honoree.

Wisconsin's Director of Track and Field and Cross Country, Mick Byrne, earned his 13th men's cross country title, which passed former Badger Martin Smith for the most in conference history. The Badgers have 54 Big Ten men's cross country titles overall.

The Wisconsin men's cross country team went on to finish second in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and 10th in the NCAA Championships to conclude their season.

1. Men's and women's basketball take down the Gophers in a Border Battle double-header

The Badgers swept the Golden Gophers on the hardwood in a televised Border-Battle double on Jan. 23rd. Both teams clinched victories in tight-games, with the women's team defeating the Gophers 59-56 in Madison and the men's team downing Minnesota 61-59 in Minneapolis. 

The men's game, which began at 6:00 PM, featured a back-and-forth battle between the rival programs. Wisconsin entered halftime with a 34-24 lead over Minnesota and held on in the final minutes to secure the victory. Despite being outscored 35-27 in the second half, crucial free throws by AJ Storr and Tyler Wahl helped solidify the Border Battle win and Greg Gard's 100th career Big Ten victory. The team was led by Wahl, who scored 16 points and Storr, who scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Max Klesmit rounded out Wisconsin's double-digit scorers with 11 points. 

The women's game, which took place immediately after the men's at the Kohl Center, featured another nail-biter between the rival schools. The Badgers took an early 13-6 lead in the first quarter and led at halftime 26-24. Wisconsin outscored the Golden Gophers by one in the second half to secure the Border Battle victory. The team was led by Serah Williams, who finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Williams, who also had a block in the contest, surpassed Thersa Huff on the all-time blocks list at number 10 with 107 career blocks. Tessa Grady was the only other double-digit scorer for the Badgers with 15 points, converting 5-11 three-pointers in the process.

Both the men's and women's basketball teams extended streaks against the Golden Gophers. The women's team, who defeated Minnesota later in the season, currently has four-straight victories against their rival. The men's team extended their streak to seven games over Minnesota and holds a 103-98 all-time record against the Gophers.