UPDATED #2: The potential Hall-Short showdown has the wrestling community abuzz. Here, the Pioneer Press out of St. Paul talks about the much anticipated matchup of national no. 1s.
UPDATED #1: Intermatwrestle.com did a nice preview on the Cheesehead and all the potential matchups of highly ranked wrestlers including Jake Short of Simley’s move up to 152 pounds that could pit him against Apple Valley’s Mark Hall. Short is currently the top ranked wrestler at 145 pounds in the nation while Hall is tops at 152. Check it out.
Over the past couple seasons, the Spartans have entered tournaments with tougher competition. That trend continues this year with Sparta’s debut at the Cheesehead. The two-day tournament in Kaukauna will begin Friday and conclude Saturday. Perennially one of the toughest tournaments in the country, this year’s tournament is no different.
The 28-team tournament features squads from six states: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Of those 26 teams, 23 are ranked. Seven teams are the top ranked teams in their respective state divisions while three more are ranked second or third. The top ranked teams in the tournament include Illinois’ Montini Catholic, Iowa’s Southeast Polk, Minnesota’s Apple Valley and Simley, North Dakota’s West Fargo and Wisconsin’s Kaukauna and Luxemburg-Casco. While state rankings abound the lineup of teams at the tournament, seven of those teams find themselves in the top 50 in the nation. Illinois has three of those teams in Glenbard North (46th), Marmion Academy (24th) and Montini Catholic (10th). Iowa has two in Bettendorf (45th) and Southeast Polk (23rd). The highest ranked teams in the tournament come from our neighbors to the west in Minnesota. Simley enters the Cheesehead ranked 20th while Apple Valley brings in a stacked squad ranked 4th in country. Below are the complete rankings by state…
- Illinois – Edwardsville (#12, 3A), Glenbard North (#11, 3A, 46th nationally), Lockport Township (#8, 3A), Mt. Carmel (#21, 3A), Marmion Academy (#3, 3A, 24th nationally), Montini Catholic (#1, 2A, 10th nationally) and Plainfield Central (#14, 3A)
- Iowa – Bettendorf (#3, 3A, 45th nationally), Davenport Assumption (#2, 2A), Southeast Polk (#1, 3A, 23rd nationally) and Waverly-Shell Rock (#5, 3A)
- Minnesota – Apple Valley (#1, AAA, 4th nationally), Kenyon-Wanamingo (honorable mention, A) and Simley (#1, AA, 20th nationally)
- North Dakota – West Fargo (#1, A)
- Oklahoma – Plainview (#6, 3A)
- Wisconsin – Arrowhead (unranked), Ellsworth (#4, D2), Hartford Union (unranked), Kaukauna (#1, D1), Luxemburg-Casco (#1, D2), Pewaukee (honorable mention, D2), Port Washington (#9, D1), Sheboygan Falls (#9, D2), Sparta (#6, D2), Stoughton (unranked), Wisconsin Rapids (honorable mention, D1) and Wrightstown (honorable mention, D2).
So with loaded teams come talented individuals, right? Right. There are 164 state-ranked wrestlers in the tournament and 17 are ranked nationally. It would take up way too much space and way too much time to analyze all the ranked wrestlers, but we can talk about a few of them. The nationally ranked wrestlers include…
- 120 – Jimenez (Marmion Academy, 8th) and Jen Lantz (Ellsworth, 20th)
- 126 – Cortez (Glenbard North, 2nd), Stroker (Bettendorf, 15th), Gross (Apple Valley, 16th) and Laster (Montini Catholic, 17th)
- 132 – Fisher (Marmion Academy, 14th)
- 145 – Jake Short (Simley, 1st) and Brill (Mt. Carmel, 2nd)
- 152 – Mark Hall (Apple Valley, 1st) and Murphy (Glenbard North, 3rd)
- 160 – Woiwar (Apple Valley, 8th)
- 170 – Nick Wanzek (Simley, 4th)
- 182 – Lehmann (West Fargo, 6th)
- 195 – Ellingwood (Plainfield Central, 8th)
- 285 – Newton Smerchek (Luxemberg-Casco, 5th) and Scanlon (Southeast Polk, 13th)
Sparta should have some familiarity with Jake Short and Nick Wanzek of Simley along with Smercheck of Luxemburg-Casco having met them at the Kasson-Mantorville duals and the WIAA team state tournament last year. In those matches, Jake Short pinned Michael Murnane in 34 seconds while Nick Wanzek tech falled Toby Mosley 17-2. At team state, Luxemburg-Casco’s Newton Smercheck pinned Chris Beeler in 2:25. That was last year and every year is different. So how do the Spartans stack up when it comes to seeding in the tournament? Let’s find out.
- 106 – Corey Zimmerman, 24th
- 113 – Dylan Winchel, 8th
- 120 – John Roddick, 10th
- 126 – Steven Kelly, 16th
- 132 – Brock Polhamus, 14th
- 138 – Tristan Zurfluh, 27th
- 145 – Michael Murnane, 14th
- 152 – Dillon Erickson, 23rd
- 160 – Walker Polhamus, 25th
- 170 – Greg Skon, 16th
- 182 – Kyle Burkhalter, 5th
- 195 – Daniel Dawley, 13th
- 220 – Chase Bernett, 15th
- 285 – Joseph Benish, 9th
Some things to think about… these seedings are not bad when you consider that there are 164 state ranked and 17 nationally ranked wrestlers. Just yesterday, Dylan Winchel ascended to the top of the rankings at 113 pounds in division two, yet is seeded 8th. Why? He’s only wrestled four matches this year. Additionally, there are seven wrestlers including Winchel that are ranked in the top three of their state’s rankings. Tristan Zurfluh is a 30+ win wrestler yet is seeded 27th. That’s because he’s been injured all year and is making his season debut at the Cheesehead. Guys like Kyle Burkhalter benefit from their record along with multiple state tournament appearances. All that goes into the seeding and is a large part of why he is Sparta’s highest seeded wrestler even though Winchel holds the top ranking at his weight class and placed at state last year.
Some other random tidbits about the tournament… 126 pounds featured the most nationally ranked wrestlers with four followed by 120, 145, 152 and 285 with two apiece. Heavyweight has the fewest ranked wrestlers, state or national, of any weight class with just four while 132 pounds has the most state ranked wrestlers of any weight class at 16.
To visit the Cheesehead website, click here. To see a PDF breakdown of all the ranked wrestlers and teams in the tournament, click here.
It’s going to be a tough tournament for the Spartans. A top 10 finish here would be spectacular while finishing in the top half of the teams would be nothing to be disappointed in. Check back here tomorrow for updates throughout the day. Oh, and GO SPARTANS!!!
Sparta grapplers what a great opportunity you have in wrestling at the Cheesehead. This may be the toughest high school tournament now in the country. Not only to face the toughest state-wide opponents but the opportunity to wrestle against some of the toughest wrestlers in the country. There’s been thousands of Sparta wrestlers before you who went through the grueling seasons but never had the opportunity to wrestle at such a high level. The fact that you were invited speaks mountains about each of you as wrestlers, your team, your coaches and your fans who come to support you! Win, lose or draw enjoy the experience because these are moments you will remember 25, 30 and 35 years from now. Do your absolute best, leave nothing on the mat. Don’t walk off the mat and say..I should have or I wish I would have done this. You’re all experienced wrestlers and represent your school and sport in the highest degree of sportsmanship. I wish each and every one of you the absolute best. Make us all proud!