For just the 10th time in 40 years and their second in a row, the Spartans edged Holmen Saturday to win the Sparta Invitational. Not since 1994-95 had the Spartans won their own tournament in consecutive years. The Spartans finished with 165 points, which was 6.5 points better than runner-up Holmen and 24.5 better than third place Weston/Ithaca. So how did the Spartans do it?
Individual titles by Dylan Winchel at 113 and Kyle Burkhalter at 182 certainly helped. The difference maker was a strong performance by the Spartans in the consolation rounds. Four Spartans placed third or fifth while 12 of the 13 Spartans placed. Sparta was wrestling without heavyweight Joseph Benish as he continues to recover from an injury. Like they have throughout the year, the Spartans picked up themselves up with an incomplete team. Missing again at 132 pounds was Brock Polhamus. The team should expect Polhamus back within a week.
Also advancing to the finals was John Roddick at 120, Michael Murnane at 145 and Chase Bernett at 220. Roddick was wrestling Weston/Ithaca’s Stetson Clary in a tough match before getting caught and pinned in 3:51. Murnane was wrestling the top-ranked wrestler in division three in New Lisbon’s Cullen Pederson and had Pederson on the ropes until the final seconds before falling by a score of 3-2. At 220 pounds, Iowa-Grant’s Cody Rider was a bit too much for Chase Bernett as Rider came away with a technical fall victory.
On the day, the Spartans were 4-3 against Holmen and that one match probably made the difference between a team title and a second place finish. One big victory for team scoring purposes was Daniel Dawley’s 9-2 victory over Holmen’s Blythe Phillips in the 3rd place bout. That win was an eight point swing in favor of the Spartans. Here’s how the rest of the team did on the day…
106 – Corey Zimmeman, 5th Place, 2-2 with a pin and major decision
113 – Dylan Winchel, 1st Place, 3-0 with two pins
120 – John Roddick, 2nd Place, 2-1
126 – Steven Kelly, 5th Place, 3-1 with a technical fall
132 – Austin Feltner, Did Not Place, 0-2
138 – Tristan Zurfluh, 3rd Place, 2-1 with two pins
145 – Michael Murnane, 2nd Place, 2-1 with a technical fall
152 – Dillon Erickson, 6th Place, 2-2
160 – Walker Polhamus, 6th Place, 3-2 with a pin
170 – Greg Skon, 4th Place, 1-2 with a technical fall
182 – Kyle Burkhalter, 1st Place, 3-0 with a pin, technical fall and major decision
195 – Daniel Dawley, 3rd Place, 3-1 with two pins
220 – Chase Bernett, 2nd Place, 2-1 with a pin
Injuries, skin afflictions and more have affected the Spartans this year yet they keep on finding a way to win. If this team can get healthy and complete, it will be fun to watch. The victory over Holmen in the tournament had to be some nice revenge for Holmen’s win over the Spartans in Thursday night’s dual.