By David Paulsen
It was not the outcome that the Burlington High School wrestling team was looking for, but the end result is still a fourth consecutive Southern Lakes Conference title.
The Demon grapplers took third at the SLC Meet at Burlington Saturday, trailing Lake Geneva Badger and Elkhorn. That meant that Burlington, Badger and Elkhorn all share the SLC title.
Badger won the tournament with 235.5 points, followed by Elkhorn with 222 points and Burlington with 209 points.
“It isn’t exactly where we wanted to be,” head coach Jade Gribble said, noting that if the team would have finished first or second in the tournament it would have won the SLC title outright due to defeating both Badger and Elkhorn in dual meets during the season and winning the dual portion of the season.
The Demons crowned three champions, had two more grapplers take second, and three more third. No Burlington wrestler finished worse than fifth.
Earning conference crowns were Ben Hornickle at 113, Josh Bird at 120, and Cody Elsbury at 152. All three had first-round byes.
Hornickle pinned his semifinal opponent in just 49 seconds, and then won the tile with a 3-0 decision over Matthew Wagemann of Wilmot.
Gribble noted that in the first—place match, Wagemann was in position to score early, but Hornickle worked his way out of it and then got a takedown. Hornickle had not wrestled at 113 for awhile, but will be at that weight class throughout the postseason.
Bird moved down to 120, and scored a 16-4 major decision in the semifinals, and then a pin in 3:57 over Union Grove’s Brett Kieslich in the finals.
Elsbury, who had missed some of the season, pinned his semifinal opponent and then scored a 12-5 decision in the finals over Rory Shine of Badger.
Brody Fitzpatrick, at 138, and Tyler Kirkeeng, at 285, both finished second.
Fitzpatrick, who has been battling a bad ankle, won by first-period pin in the first two rounds, but did not wrestle in the finals. That gave the SLC title to Waterford’s Max Fisher by injury default.
Gribble noted he kept Fitzpatrick out of the title match because he did not want to risk further injury to the ankle. He indicated Fitzpatrick would be ready for regionals on Saturday.
Kirkeeng lost to Union Grove’s Tony Beck by a 5-3 decision in the finals. Kirkeeng and Beck had split two regular season matches, and may very well meet again in regionals.
Beck took Kirkeeng down twice in the match.
Logan Schmalfeldt (145), Max Shenkenberg (160) and Greg Miller (195) all placed third.
Shenkenberg lost to Cody Peterson of Delavan-Darien by pin in the opening round. Gribble noted that Shenkenberg was leading in that match but got caught.
In the third-place match, Shenkenberg took on Peterson once again and this time defeated him 9-7.
Burlington will host the WIAA Division 1 regional on Saturday starting at 10:30 a.m.
If the Demons win regional as a team, they will compete in the team sectional at Racine Horlick on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
Third and a tie: Demons eke out share of SLC wrestling crown
By David Paulsen