Big day in West Salem yields big week ahead for Spartans

It was clear from the opening round of the tournament that Saturday’s regional in West Salem was Sparta’s for the taking. The Spartans won their first 18 matches of the day to build a big lead they never surrendered. When the tournament was done, the Spartans won their third regional title in as many years besting second place Viroqua by 102.5 points. Sparta finished with 270.5, Viroqua with 167 and host West Salem/Bangor with 156.5.

In doing so, the Spartans qualified 10 wrestlers for sectionals and set up a dual with Evansville/Albany Tuesday night in the opening round of team sectionals in Wisconsin Dells. If Sparta defeats Evansville/Albany, they will wrestle the winner of the River Valley-Lodi dual. Sparta and Lodi are looking like early favorites in their respective duals.  We will have previews of all teams from team sectionals Tuesday night, but first let’s look at how the Spartans performed Saturday.

Sparta’s 10 sectional qualifiers included five champions in John Roddick, Michael Murnane, Toby Mosley, Kyle Burkhalter and Dan Dawley.  The top two wrestlers advance from regionals to sectionals. Finishing second for the Spartans were Dylan Winchel, Brock Polhamus, Tristan Zurfluh, Bob Ragan and Chris Beeler. As the La Crosse Tribune pointed out, the biggest surprise of the day for the Spartans was probably 195-pounder Dan Dawley, who pinned the top two seeds to win his first tournament of the year.

Finishing third and falling just short of sectionals were seniors Derek VonRuden, Paul Vantassel and Michael Beeler and junior Greg Skon. VonRuden will have a chance to notch his 40th win of the year Tuesday night and become the 12th Spartan wrestler to accomplish such a feat.

Summarized results from Saturday’s regional are below…

106  —  Dylan Winchel, 2nd place, 2-1 with two pins
113  —  John Roddick, 1st place, 3-0 with two pins
120  —  Brock Polhamus, 2nd place, 2-1
126  —  Tristan Zurfluh, 2nd place, 2-1 with a tech fall
132  —  Derek VonRuden, 3rd place, 2-1 with a pin
138  —  Paul Vantassel, 3rd place, 1-1
145  —  Michael Murnane, 1st place, 3-0
152  —  Toby Mosley, 1st place, 3-0 with a major decision and a pin
160  —  Bob Ragan, 2nd place, 2-1 with two pins
170  —  Greg Skon, 3rd place, 2-2 with a pin
182  —  Kyle Burkhalter, 1st place, 3-0 with two pins
195  —  Dan Dawley, 1st place, 3-0 with three pins
220  —  Michael Beeler, 3rd place, 2-1
285  —  Chris Beeler, 2nd place,  2-1

It was a good day for the Spartans. Last year, the Spartans didn’t win the team title until their second to last match of the day and finished three points ahead of Viroqua. Individually, they only qualified four wrestlers for sectionals last year and this year they advanced ten.  The ten they qualified were the most since the 2009-10 season, their first in division two, when they also qualified ten.

The Spartans have two days off before heading to Wisconsin Dells on Tuesday evening for team sectionals. If the Spartans want to make their first trip to team state since the 2003-04 season, they will need to win both duals Tuesday night and overcome two straight years of agonizing losses to Lodi. On paper, it looks like Sparta and Lodi are the favorites in the opening duals of the night and it looks like it will be another very close dual between Sparta and Lodi once again.  More on that to come later…

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