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.
GREAT PIC!! It does capture Jake’s intensity.
Hey Larry. That photo is by the one and only Joe Koshollek. You can see more of his great work at http://www.joekphoto.com/
I see Buck is wearing a blue glove…could they have been coaching a Morg Leis match? The coaches always had to be ready for blood time when Morg was on the mat! Congrats Jake! The Leis’ will never forget the influence you, Bill, Buck, and Dale had on Morg; wonderful years we’ll always remember!
Begorra Derek, great again the read and updates..
Now as you know me — to me Records are just past time.. (first we had a cylinder record, then a vinyl 78, then 45’s and 33 1/3 and then tapes then CD’s and now I pods etc. Records are for the past.. as presented in a lecture I attended many a year ago.. the famous Olympic Pole Vaulter and record holder at the time—- and then Wheaties spokes person said,, and I’ve got most but probably not all—-
((((Yes, I include – basically saying that all the hype when someone breaks a sports record (with the help of the latest technology) is a little OTT, because it happens all the time. (It would be more of a big story if a sports record stood for at least a century being broken.)))))
Present day success along with tradition are of value and here is Sparta we thanks to the Wrestlers, Coaches , family and friends are enjoying the Value… and for all
continued health, success and happiness.
Derek know this is a little ‘philosphical’ or being of Erin,,, a Little Blaney say I.
Major Thomas J. Smith (Ret.)
hey and by the way it was great to be with Coaches Zurf and Mont and I state Chris, for me and my family.
Slainte to the Spartans.
( and hey us who have lived through many a sad pro football record of losses over this past decade–
hopefully the song will be now ::: In the jungle , the mighty jungle the Lion does not sleep but with a history or RECORD of the past in Roman Times the Lions will beat the Saints,,, ( more blarney !)
addressing Roman Times quiz,, how many know that the statue in front of the HS is Roman and not Spartan… hmmmnn
Hey Tom, I too hope the Lions beat the saints in this go round…you’re certainly due. I’m sure you recall, it was a former basketball coach and history teacher, who was instrumental in putting that statue up. I don’t really know what to say about that.
It must be added that Tom Smith was also an instrumental force in building the tradition that is thriving today in Sparta wrestling, and there were many others before us. I can’t think of a greater reward or compliment to those who came before, than for those that follow to build upon, and improve something that we who came before loved and dedicated so much of ourselves to. I know in my coaching, I have always consciously carried the torch of my previous coaches and their dedication and commitment to me and wrestling. Congratulations and thanks to Coach Larsen, as my sons reap the rewards of his coaching, and the caring commitment of the entire Spartan wrestling community. Here’s to many more years of a great thing!
What was Chris Curtis’s overall record? We had winning records in 81-82-83 I believe…..
Congrats to coach Larsen. Hope the wins pile so high we lose track. Congrats to the Sparta wrestling program and community. We should also tip our hats to Milt Armstrong who was a driving force in building the Sparta kids wrestling program so many years ago…..
Enjoy the updates and articles.
Brian G Smith
Class of ’83
Thanks Brian. I should clarify a few things. When I was talking about the “level of cooperation between the high school and middle school that hasn’t been there before” I was referring a lot to the fact that Larsen is the head coach at the high school level working at the middle school and that can’t hurt recruiting. Also, my perspective is a bit skewed. I’m only 30 so my recollection of coaches only goes back so far as Zurf and Konze/D. Hoeft at the middle school level. I also remember Milt and the Isensees doing an awesome job with the youth back in the day too.
I’d love for people to leave messages and thoughts about what individuals I might have missed who made a difference in the program’s turnaround. I know I missed a few. As for the 81-82-83 records, here is what we have in the archives on the site… 1980-81 0-10, 1981-82 8-4-1, 1982-83 3-7, 1983-84, 3-7. Curtis’ overall record was 17-34-2.