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Jaden Bird, mug, Burlington

Bird

Although the rules dictate that only two wrestlers can be on the mat at a time, Burlington High School coach Jade Gribble saw clear evidence of a team sport Tuesday night.

His Demons wrestling team defeated Oak Creek 51-25 in a WIAA Division 1 sectional dual meet at Kenosha Bradford, advancing to the state team tournament for the fifth time in seven seasons.

Four of the Demons’ regulars rested, but Gribble said they fired up their teammates from the corner.

“This team’s become really close,” Gribble said. “They’re really accountable to one another, and that’s exciting to see.”

Burlington, which improved to 13-0 in dual meets, won the first five matches of the sectional. Jaden Bird secured the first of three Demons pins in that stretch, finishing off Luca Paladino in 3 minutes, 45 seconds.

“We got some big pin points early and got out to a nice lead,” Gribble said.

Among the Burlington wrestlers to sit out were Hayden Halter (113) and Max Ehlen (138), both entrenched in the top five at their respective weights in the Wisconsin Wrestling Onlline rankings. Substituting for Halter, Grant Koenen beat the Knights’ Emilee Orosz by technical fall 16-0 to earn his team a bonus point in the second match of the day.

“That’s the beauty of our team is we have good depth at different weight classes,” said Gribble, calling the fill-ins “varsity-caliber kids.”

The Demons won nine of the 14 matches overall. Two dispatched their Oak Creek opponents in less than a minute: Nate Crayton (182), who pinned Ben Kawczynski in 38 seconds; and Max Travis (220), who took just 47 seconds to pin Luciano Prohaska.

Cody Welker (120), Ben Stevenson (126), Jake (145) and Qwade Gehring (160) also pinned their counterparts. The other Burlington victory came from Zach Weiler, who earned a 9-1 major decision over Jackson Wolf.

The Demons came into the meet ranked No. 4 among Division 1 teams, according to Wisconsin Wrestling Online, while Oak Creek was 14th. The two teams have faced off several times this season, so there was plenty of familiarity with the opponents’ tendencies.

“Our kids know their kids and vice versa,” Gribble said.

Gribble said he’s hopeful the team can parlay its momentum into the weekend. A Demons wrestler in all 14 weight classes previously advanced to the Park individual sectional this Saturday.

The state team tournament is scheduled for March 2-3 at the Wisconsin Field House in Madison. Burlington will learn its quarterfinal opponent when seeding for the eight qualifying teams is announced Feb. 21.

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