With Sparta’s 69-6 thrashing of Aquinas Thursday, Jake Larsen picked up his 50th dual victory as head coach of the Spartans. It took only three-and-a-half years for Larsen to reach the 50-win mark, which is good enough for third all-time on the Spartan coaches win list. Only Lyle Blum (85) and Mike Montgomery (77) have more wins during their tenures at Sparta than does Larsen.
Through his first three years, Larsen is heads and shoulders above the previous coaches who came before him in terms of records and win totals. It didn’t hurt that Larsen inherited a very good team from Lyle Blum and Bill Tourdot, but the sustained success and the explosion of wrestlers at the middle school level point to a level of cooperation between the high school and middle school that hasn’t been there before. All of this is contributing to a solid base of high school wrestlers and continual influx of good talent from the middle school level. You could also point out that Sparta wrestles way more duals than they did 15 years ago. That may be true, but it also means there are a lot more opportunities for the Spartans to lose and those losses just aren’t there. Regardless, Larsen’s first three years are impressive when compared to others who coached at least three years in Sparta…
- Jake Larsen 42-6 (2008-11)
- Mike Montgomery 31-11 (1992-1995)
- Lyle Blum 26-16 (1999-2002)
- Tom Garlie 17-21-1 (1961-1964)
- Jim Bunch 15-26-1 (1973-1976)
- Scott Zurfluh 9-21-1 (1984-87)
- Fred Tichenor 17-21-1 (1968-1971)
Before Scott Zurfluh took over the high school program in 1984-85, Sparta had only six winning years in 26 seasons. After a rough few years, Zurfluh guided Sparta to their only undefeated season in 1987-88 at 7-0-2 and thus began an era of consistent winning that has lasted through coaches Mike Montgomery, Lyle Blum, Bill Tourdot and now Jake Larsen.
To put things in perspective, in the first 26 seasons of Spartan wrestling, the team amassed a record of 116-178-5. In the last 26 years with the start of the Zurfluh era, the Spartans have more than doubled their victories with a record of 248-110-6. The amazing thing is that Sparta had six winning seasons in the first 26 years of the program’s existence. In the past 26 years, the Spartans have only six LOSING seasons. Quite the turnaround.
Congrats to coach Larsen on his 50th victory Thursday night and let’s hope the next two decades are as good or better than the last two decades have been.