On a cold, wintry Wednesday night in Racine, the Burlington High School wrestling team brought plenty of heat to the John F. McGuire Gymnasium at St. Catherine’s.
For the second year in a row, the Demons defeated Oak Creek in the WIAA Division 1 Team Sectional. They won 52-27 one year after defeating Oak Creek 51-25 at the Kenosha Bradford Sectional.
“Oak Creek is always a tough competition,” Burlington coach Jade Gribble said. “I’m just very happy with the way we performed tonight. Even in the matches we lost, I thought we were very competitive.”
The dual meet started off tightly contested. Burlington’s Brian Konz (195 pounds) was pinned by Ben Kawczynski in 4:21, but the Demons answered with a pin from Wyatt Hayes (220) against Nick Lieske in 1:26. Hayes is listed as an honorable mention by Wisconsin Wrestling Online at 220.
Taylan Hensley (285) pinned Oak Creek’s Sebastian Brodowski in 2:56 to put Burlington ahead 12-6, then Luca Paladino (106) evened the score with a pin of Ty Kiesler in 3:38.
The Demons won by pin in their next three matches. Jaden Bird, ranked No. 1 at 113, took just 41 seconds to pin Luke Moczynski. Burlington’s Grant Koenen and Nathaniel Cortez pinned their opponents in 1:07 and 2:34 respectively.
“I thought Jaden was excellent tonight in his match,” Gribble said. “He always puts himself in a position to win and he dominated out there.”
Oak Creek won just three more matches after splitting their first four.
Tyler Holz (126) won by pin against Jacob Cortez in 3:01, Brandon Lenczner (152) won 4-3 over Max Ehlen, and Nolan Paar (170) defeated Qwade Gehring by pin in 4:34. Lenczner and Paar are ranked seventh and sixth at 145 and 170.
The remainder of Burlington’s victories came by pin or technical fall. Zach Weiler, ranked No. 5 at 132, wrestled up a weight class (138) in his match against Dylan Sinthasomphone due to the absence of state-ranked Ben Kumprey. Weiler pinned Sinthasomphone in 46 seconds.
“I think we performed well tonight, up and down the line,” Weiler said. “As a senior, this means a lot to me. This is really exciting to get back to the state tournament one last time and hopefully we can take home the title in two weeks.”
Also earning a pin for the Demons was Jake Skrundz, who is ranked No. 12 at 160. Skrundz downed Sam Paar in 3:49.
Cody Welker, ranked No. 9 at 145, and Zach Wallace, honorable mention at 182, each won by technical fall. Welker beat Oak Creek’s Chris Rumpel 19-3 and Wallace won 19-2 over Will Haeger.
“We sent 14 guys to (individual) sectionals and our goal is to send 14 guys to state,” Weiler said. “That would be awesome for everyone. We still have a lot of work left to do, but we’ve got a lot of fight left in the tank.”
Gribble sees the sectional win as another stepping stone for the Burlington program.
“Hopefully this is something we can build on moving forward,” Gribble said. “Our goal is to take home a state title from Camp Randall Stadium and with this group I’m confident we can do that.”
The WIAA Division 1 State Tournament takes place in Madison March 1-2 and Burlington will compete against one of eight sectional qualifiers in the first round. The Demons lost in the semifinals of the tournament last season to Holmen 27-26 and have never advanced to the championship round.
After the loss last season, Gribble was quoted saying, “We’ll be back; I promise you.” Now, the Demons have a chance to avenge that agonizing loss and win their first team state championship is school history.