By David Paulsen
It is back to state for the Burlington High School wrestling squad.
After having never been to state until one year ago, the Demon boys now will make it two years in a row. The team earned the repeat trip on the basis of a 34-21 victory over South Milwaukee at Racine Horlick Tuesday.
“It’s nice to take home another sectional title,” head coach Jade Gribble said, adding that “it’s awesome” to be going to state two years in a row.
The Demons won eight of the 14 matches to put away the Rockets.
“I definitely don’t think we wrestled our best, but we found a way to get it done,” Gribble said.
Burlington got off to a great start, winning the first four matches to take a 20-0 lead and never trailed.
“We got off to a hot start. We got the bonus points,” Gribble said.
Ben Hornickle started the Demons off on the right foot at 120 pounds when he pinned Zachary Popek in two minutes 56 seconds.
Josh Bird followed that with a 17-2 technical fall win over McCoy Swanson at 126.
Then it was Wes Gavin’s turn, as Gavin secured a 9-1 major decision win over Mitchell Dess at 132.
Brody Fitzpatrick finished off the four-win start with a 16-1 technical fall at 138 over Gage Keene.
Burlington lost the next four matches, but all were by simple decision, which still gave the Demons a 19-12 lead. In one of those losses, Burlington was given a one-point penalty when Cody Elsbury threw his helmet following a 9-8 loss at 152.
“He let the emotions get the best of him,” Gribble said, adding that Elsbury had lost to the South Milwaukee wrestler earlier this year in another very close match.
A huge win came at 182 when Hegeman Tiedt defeated Tom Mitchell, the No. 5-ranked wrestler in the state at 182 in overtime 3-1 on a takedown. It was the second time this year Tiedt defeated Mitchell in overtime.
The two will meet again on Saturday in the opening round at sectional.
Greg Miller then defeated Brian Chapman 7-1 at 195 and Koty Agnes defeated Kenneth Senner 6-2 at 220.
Burlington’s final points came by forfeit at 106.
The Demons take on Wausau West, the No. 1-ranked team in the state according to wiwrestling.com, in the opening round of state. That match will take place Friday, March 1, at the UW Fieldhouse in Madison.
“We’ve got a tough one right away,” Gribble said. “We’ve got to be ready to go.”