Seniors Crayton, Travis lead squad ready to contend in SLC

Burlington’s Nathan Crayton has a good shot to make noise at the state tournament this season. (Dwight Beuthling/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

The wrestling machine is operating at full efficiency in the city of Burlington.

Not only are four state qualifiers back for the Demons varsity squad, but head coach Jade Gribble, now in his 14th season, boasts a ton of lethal underclassmen, nine of which could fill 14 starting varsity spots.

Though young in age, mat experience and talent is abundant, and Gribble said it could be a memorable season for his Demons, who were 7-5 overall and 4-3 in the Southern Lakes Conference last year.

“I’m excited about this year’s team,” Gribble said. “We have a fun group of kids that bring an exciting style of wrestling, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we compete.”

With depth and dangerous grapplers throughout the lineup, Gribble said an SLC championship is within reach, granted the appropriate amount of effort is given.

While only one state qualifier graduated, four return, led by senior Travis Crayton at 182.

Sophomore Jake Skrundz (145), sophomore Ben Kumprey (152) and senior Max Travis (220) also advanced to the Kohl Center in Madison a year ago for state.

Junior Zac Weiler (132) and sophomore Max Ehlen (138) each took third at sectionals and just missed state.

Other returning letter-winners are juniors Wyatt Hayes (285), Nate Bousman (195) and Kyle DeRosier (113).

With 43 kids in the entire wrestling program, several varsity newcomers look to make an impact.

Sophomore Cody Welker was a junior varsity state qualifier last year, and fellow sophomore Ben Stevenson will compete at 126 pounds.

Freshmen Nathaniel Cortez (120), Grant Koenen (113), Jaden Bird (106/113) and Hayden Halter (106) round out the key new faces.

“Although the varsity kids have a lot of mat time, our varsity lineup will still be young with as many as nine freshmen and sophomores in the lineup,” Gribble said.

Waterford and defending champion Elkhorn are expected to be the top two teams to beat, with Lake Geneva Badger always a threat.

“There will be plenty of talent throughout the conference, so we will have a lot of work to do,” Gribble said.

Gribble is joined on the coaching staff by Jason Bousman, Jerry Barr, Jon Nelson, Tim Burd, Greg Gross and Lucas Shenkenberg.

 

Schedule

(HOME MEETS ALL CAPS)

November – 30: at Westosha Central. December – 2: at Slinger Invite. 7: ELKHORN. 9: Scramble at Sun Prairie. 14: at Waterford. 16: at Fond du Lac Invite. 21: at Wilmot. January – 4: LAKE GENEVA BADGER. 6: DEMON INVITE. 11: DELAVAN-DARIEN. 13: at Freedom Invite. 19: at Homestead Invite. 25: at Union Grove. February – 3: SLC tournament at Delavan-Darien.

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