Today is the day. Four of Sparta’s six state tournament qualifiers will wrestle tonight. John Roddick, Brock Polhamus, Derek VonRuden and Kyle Burkhalter will step onto the mat tonight and for Roddick and Polhamus, this will be their first trip to the Kohl Center. VonRuden and Burkhalter will be looking to avenge their winless state tournament trips from a year ago. So what’s in store for these guys? Let’s find out.
- At 113, John Roddick (39-12) wrestles East Troy freshman Ryan Engel (31-9). If Roddick wins his match, he’ll wrestle Oconto Falls’ Matthew Damp (38-2) in the quarterfinals late Friday morning. Roddick enters the tournament ranked 11th according to Wisconsin Wrestling Online, Engel is ranked 9th and Damp comes in at 5th. Let’s say Roddick gets past Engel and Damp, he would likely have to wrestle Ellsworth’s Jens Lantz, who is the top ranked wrestler at 113 in division two and one of the premier wrestlers in Wisconsin. The key for Roddick is to win his first match. If you lose, you don’t want your state tournament fate to be decided by somebody else. The only way to advance after losing your first match at state is to have the person who beat you win his next match.
Other wrestlers that Roddick should be familiar with are JJ Donar (40-5) who defeated Roddick in the sectional finals. He’s on the other side of the bracket and looks to be the favorite on that side along with Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyal’s Phillip Opelt (45-5).
- At 120, Brock Polhamus (35-12) wrestles Somerset’s Bobby Leroy (36-6). If Polhamus wins, he’ll wrestle Campbellsport’s Ryan Costello (38-1). Polhamus enters the tournament ranked 11th, Leroy 6th and Costello 3rd. Last year, Costello placed 4th at the state tournament. On the same side of the bracket as Polhamus is sectional nemesis Adam Niehause (36-8) of Belmont/Platteville. Niehause defeated Polhamus last weekend 11-4 in the opening match of sectionals.
- At 132 pounds, Derek VonRuden (44-8) will look to pick up his first state tournament victory and he will do so against New Holstein’s Cole Fritsch (22-11). As records go, this might be one of the easiest first match for any of the Spartans, but don’t let that deceive you. Sparta’s Trent Brooks finished 4th at regionals, second at sectionals and second at the state tournament back in 2002 and he did not enter the tournament with a glamorous record. If VonRuden defeats Fritsch, he’ll have to wrestle Ellsworth’s Roarke Langer (33-2). VonRuden enters the tournament ranked 6th, Fritsch 11th and Langer comes in as the top ranked wrestler at 132 pounds in division two. Langer is the defending state champion at 125 pounds and was second at this year’s Bi-State Classic.
- Finally, at 182 pounds, Kyle Burkhalter (36-14) faces off against Waupun’s Brady Hueink (39-5). The winner of that match will then face Somerset’s Haydon Dvorak (39-3). Burkhalter enters the tournament ranked 7th, Hueink 12th and Dvorak enters the state tournament as the top ranked wrestler at 182 pounds in division two. Other wrestlers of note in the 182 pound bracket include Dusty Jentz (37-1), Luxemburg-Casco’s Jordan Pardowsky (37-14) and Lodi’s Jesse Ziegler (39-3). Burkhalter could meet Pardowsky next week at team state while Burkhalter dropped matches to Jentz at sectionals and to Ziegler in their only head-to-head match at team sectionals.
We will have previews for Dylan Winchel and Toby Mosley later today and we should have photos of all the wrestlers in action posted here at the end of each day. Go Spartans!!!