The road ahead: 2016 WIAA tournament season

The regular season is over.  No more tournaments with guarantees of a tomorrow.  Sparta is back in division one this year after an up and down year where they finished 7-5 overall and 4-2 in conference.  This coming Saturday, they will go back to Tomah for the WIAA regional tournament.

Awaiting the Spartans in Tomah will be Baraboo, Holmen, La Crosse Central, La Crosse Logan, Onalaska, Reedsburg and Tomah.  The top four finishers will advance to sectionals in Waunakee where qualifiers from the Middleton regional including Madison East, Madison La Follette, Madison Memorial, Madison West, Middleton, Portage, Sauk Prairie and Waunakee will await the Spartans.  At sectionals, the top two individuals will advance to the state tournament just a few days later at the Kohl Center.

Below are the top wrestlers from each team in the Tomah regional according to the Wisconsin Wrestling Online rankings…

  • Baraboo  –  Pablo Ramirez (10th, 113) and Zach Raymond (9th, 160)
  • Holmen  –  Tanner Schultz (8th, 120), Isaac Lahr (HM, 132) and Kalyn Jahn (7th, 138)
  • La Crosse Central  –  Jaden Van Maanen (1st, 132) and Connor Williams (3rd, 170)
  • Onalaska  –  Konrad Ernst (3rd, 220)
  • Reedsburg  –  Mason McMillen (9th, 120) and Dalton Hahn (3rd, 195)
  • Sparta  –  Jon Bailey (4th, 106), Brett Von Ruden (8th, 138), Jaden Winchel (4th, 145) and Hayden Krein (2nd, 152)
  • Tomah  –  Hunter Pierce (HM, 138), Casey Curran (HM, 152) and Jake Hessil (HM, 195)

From Sparta’s regional, 138 pounds appears to the toughest bracket with three ranked wrestlers.  The 120, 132 and 195-pound weight classes each have two ranked wrestlers.  There are seven wrestlers ranked in the top four in division one including one top-ranked wrestler in Jaden Van Maanen of La Crosse Central.

Now let’s take a look at the Middleton regional…

  • Madison East  –  Michael Dunlap (HM, 285)
  • Madison La Follette  –  Francesco Schiro (6th, 106)
  • Middleton  –  Kevin Meicher (8th, 126) and Chris Rogers (8th, 132)
  • Sauk Prairie  –  Zeke Smith (11th, 106), Dylan Herbrand (12th, 113), Drew Fjoser (3rd, 132), Aaron Hankins (12th, 132), Bryant Schaaf (HM, 145), Eddie Smith (1st, 152), Austin Powell (4th, 182) and Logan Moore (HM, 220)
  • Waunakee  –  Preston Ernst (12th, 145), Trevor Statz (4th, 195) and Mason Ripp (12th, 220)

Sauk Prairie is clearly the class of this regional with eight ranked wrestlers, which is five more than Waunakee with the second most.  Joining Van Maanen in the top-ranked department is Sauk Prairie’s Eddie Smith who comes in ranked first at 152 pounds.  This sectional could see second-ranked Hayden Krein meet top-ranked Eddie Smith in the finals.

Section-wide, it appears 132 pounds could be the toughest weight class with five ranked wrestlers.  In reality, it’s four because Wisconsin Wrestling Online has two Sauk Prairie wrestlers ranked at 132 so one of them is likely to move up or down.  If they move up to 138 then both 132 and 138 would have four ranked wrestlers.  As it stands now, 132 is tops with five ranked wrestlers while 106, 138, 145, 152, 195 and 220 each have three ranked wrestlers.  113 and 120 have two ranked wrestlers.

The Spartans may have a hard time matching last year’s eight state qualifiers, but the team should see multiple Spartans make the trip to the Kohl Center.  Returning state qualifiers include Christian Lamon, Jaden Winchel, Brett VonRuden and Hayden Krein.

Sparta should be in the mix to win their regional tournament.  They have been a better tournament team all year than dual team and finished just behind Holmen at Bi-State despite wrestling the tournament with four fewer wrestlers.  It will be close, but if the Spartans do win their regional, they will almost surely face Sauk Prairie three days later at team sectionals in Baraboo.

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