By David Paulsen
One year ago, when the Burlington High School wrestling team went to state for the first time in school history, 13 of the 14 wrestlers on the team advanced out of regional into sectional competition. This year, the team did one better, sending all 14 of its grapplers to sectional.
“It was nearly perfect,” head coach Jade Gribble said, noting that perfection would be having all 14 wrestlers take first place. “I was very proud of the kids and how they wrestled.”
The Demons had four wrestlers take first place, seven capture second, one third and two fourths. The top four wrestlers in each weight class in Division 1 advance to sectional.
“The kids came out with a lot of energy,” Gribble said. “We definitely had a lot more energy than the week before (at the Southern Lakes Conference Tournament).”
The four who took first place were also seeded No. 1: sophomore Ben Hornickle (at 113 pounds), freshman Josh Bird (120), and seniors Brody Fitzpatrick (138) and Cody Elsbury (152). All four had first-round byes.
Hornickle, who is now 30-3 on the season and is ranked No. 6 in the state, pinned both of his opponents, as did Bird, who is 37-3 and ranked No. 5 in the state. Bird pinned the No. 8-ranked wrestler, Harley Klemick of Racine Horlick, in 5:37 in the finals.
Fitzpatrick, 31-4 overall and ranked No. 6 in the state at 138, after pinning his semifinal opponent, had a tough first-place match against No. 11-ranked Franklin’s Roman Stiff. The match went to overtime with Fitzpatrick winning 8-4.
Elsbury pinned his semifinal opponent and then took a 10-6 decision over Donny Lipper of Kenosha Tremper in the first-place match. Elsbury is now 28-7 overall.
Taking second for Burlington were Robert Elsbury (106), Lucas Shenkenberg (126), Logan Schmalfeldt (145), Max Shenkenberg (160), Greg Miller (195), Koty Agnes (220) and Tyler Kirkeeng (285).
Lucas Shenkenberg (17-11 overall) got a key win over Taylor Choinski of Racine Case, who had only three losses coming in to regional, in the semifinal. Shenkenberg gave up a reversal with about eight seconds to go in the match that tied the match, but then got a takedown in overtime to secure an 8-6 decision.
Max Shenkenberg (25-14 overall) also got a big win in the semifinal, defeating Trenton Schwartz of Kenosha Tremper 6-4 in overtime with a takedown.
Both Lucas and Max lost in the finals. Lucas had already defeated the third-place opponent, so won second-place by rule, whereas Max had to wrestle his second-place match, winning it by an 8-4 decision.
Schmalfeldt (14-10), Miller (28-13) and Kirkeeng (32-11) all lost the first-place match, and did not have to wrestle a second-place match by rule.
Robert Elsbury (20-17) and Agnes (28-14) both lost their semifinal matches, but came back to win both their third-place and second-place matches, all by pin. Elsbury came into regional seeded No. 5, the only Demon seeded below No. 4.
Kyle Crayton (26-16) took third at 170, while Wes Gavin (18-11 at 132) and Hegeman Tiedt (24-17 at 182) both secured fourth.