Spartans win regional in dramatic fashion

Sparta's 2011 sectional qualifiers, from left: Derek VonRuden at 125, Morgan Leis at 152, Kyle Burkhalter at 171 and Tom Tourdot at 215

I’m not sure anyone thought the final team scores were going to be this close.  At the beginning of January, Sparta had finished almost 100 points ahead of Viroqua at the Lancaster Invite.  On paper, I didn’t think Adams-Friendship matched up.  In the end, all three teams finished within six points of each other, but it was the Spartans who came out on top with 193 team points.  Viroqua finished second with 190 while Adams-Friendship was third with 187.

I’m not sure any team had a lead of more than 11 team points throughout the day.  It was that close.  Sparta went 6-2 on the day against competition from Viroqua and 4-1 against Adams-Friendship.  Had any one of those matches gone the other way, Viroqua or Adams-Friendship would be wrestling Tuesday evening in Mauston.

A great performance by Burkhalter at 171, Lopez at 160 and a win by Ben Schaitel at 189 over a Viroqua wrestler were a big boost to Sparta’s team score today.  The top two wrestlers at each weight class advance to next week’s sectional in Evansville.  Sparta’s qualifiers include 125-pound champion Derek VonRuden, Morgan Leis at 152 pounds, Kyle Burkhalter at 171 pounds and the 215-pound champion Tom Tourdot.  Seniors Nick Winchel (3rd) and Xavier Lopez (3rd) fell one place short of advancing, but they will still see their seasons continue.

Sparta wrestled 40 matches on the day and the team title was not determined until Kyle Burkhalter stepped onto the mat for the 39th match.  Sparta was down two team points to Viroqua.  There were two matches left.  On paper, this was by far the most favorable matchup left.  Burkhalter was facing Wisconsin Dells’ Allan Platt who entered the match with a record of 15-20.  The other remaining match pitted Chris Beeler against West Salem/Bangor’s Alex Arentz (33-10).  Not impossible that Beeler would win, but the odds say its more likely you’ll beat a wrestler who is 15-20 versus 33-10.

With a team sectional birth on the line, Burkhalter pinned Platt in 3:54 giving Sparta five critical team points and the title.  Beeler would end up falling by pin in his second place match.

Here is how each wrestler did on the day.  For full match-by-match results, please click here.

103  —  Dylan Winchel, 5th Place, 1-1 with a pin
112  —  Tristan Zurfluh, 5th Place, 0-1
119  —  Bryce Nowaczyk, 6th Place, 1-2
125  —  Derek VonRuden, 1st Place, 3-0 with a major decision
130  —  Nick Winchel, 3rd Place, 2-2 with a pin and major decision
135  —  Paul Vantassel, 4th Place, 1-2
140  —  Mike Murnane, 1-2 with a pin
145  —  Toby Mosley, 3rd Place, 2-2
152  —  Morgan Leis, 2nd Place, 3-1 with two major decisions
160  —  Xavier Lopez, 3rd Place, 2-2
171  —  Kyle Burkhalter, 2nd Place, 3-1 with two pins
189  —  Ben Schaitel, 4th Place, 1-2 with a major decision
215  —  Tom Tourdot, 1st Place, 3-0 with a pin and major decision
285  —  Chris Beeler, 3rd Place, 2-2 with a pin

Team Scores:  Sparta 193, Viroqua 190, Adams-Friendship 187, Wisconsin Dells 154.5, West Salem/Bangor 123, Westfield Area 119.5, Mauston 114

It was probably the closest regional team finish the Spartans have ever wrestled in.  I really think the guys from 160 through 189 came up big when they needed too and made the difference on the day.  The titles by VonRuden and Tourdot were big too, but there were a lot of matches from 160 through 189 that were toss-ups on paper where the Spartans escaped with critical victories.

Sparta will now wrestle Cuba City/Southwestern in the first round of sectionals Tuesday night in Mauston.  The winner of that dual will wrestle the winner of Lodi and Clinton.  We will have a full preview of Cuba City/Southwestern as well as Lodi by Monday here on  I’m guessing Lodi will defeat Clinton.  They will be heavily favored in that dual.

There will also be videos of some of today’s matches posted to either late tonight or early tomorrow.  Be sure to check back to see Sparta’s wrestlers in action today.

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