Light, middle weights jump on Waterford early

Burlington freshman Zach Wallace is fired up after pinning Dalton Danowski in 1:01 Thursday night in Waterford. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

WATERFORD – Elkhorn Area High School head coach Ken Reynolds is one of the most respected and knowledgeable wrestling people in the state.

So when he speaks, it’s a good idea to listen.

After the Burlington varsity wrestling squad dismantled Reynolds’ defending Southern Lakes Conference champion Elks last week, 51-18, Reynolds proclaimed the Demons have the ability this season to win a team state title, something no team in the SLC has ever done.

When Burlington coach Jade Gribble learned of this statement after his squad’s 43-20 dismantling of conference favorite Waterford at Waterford Union High School Thursday night, he didn’t take it lightly.

“I just got goosebumps thinking about it,” said Gribble, whose squad is currently ranked No. 4 in the Wisconsin Division 1 team rankings. “That’s what we work for. Elkhorn and Waterford were both state-ranked teams. We have a great group of sophomores, and we brought in a great group of freshmen. We have a lot of young kids, and they love wrestling.”

The Demons showed every ounce of their enormous potential early and often against the No. 9 Wolverines.

With a decided advantage in the light and middle weights, Burlington benefitted from the match starting at 106, as Jaden Bird and Hayden Halter started things with two dominant wins to open a 10-0 lead.

Sam Winski, a state qualifier at 120, knocked off Burlington’s Cody Welker, a Waterford resident, 5-2, to halt the momentum, but the Demons fired back with pins in two of the next three matches from Ben Stevenson (126), who wrestled on Indian Trail last year, and Max Ehlen at 138.

The 28-3 advantage stunned Waterford, and after Qwade Gehring (160) edged Alex Guardiola, 7-6, and freshman Zach Wallace earned a pin in only a minute at 170, the match was essentially over.

The capacity crowd of nearly 500 spectators, which filled the gym completely and forced around 50 to settle for standing, witnessed a loaded Demons squad relentlessly beating Waterford most of the match.

With a comfortable 43-6 lead, the Demons bench was still up, pacing around and supporting teammates with advice and cheering.

By the 285 match, things got chippy as Waterford’s Boyd Biggs tried to taunt Burlington’s Max Travis with a hand gesture suggesting “come on” after the match. The extremely intense bout saw the action spill beyond the circle a few times, and the referee had to intervene.

Biggs’ 4-3 victory, which saw Travis get close with a last-second reversal, capped a string of three straight Waterford wins to end the match, including a Jared Krattiger 25-9 beatdown at 195 and a Jack Trautman pin in 3:32 at 220.

Waterford’s other win came at 152, where Anthony Christenson doubled up Ben Kumprey, 8-4.

Gribble lauded Wallace’s pin fall victory at 170, and he said the team is strong in all weight classes.

“We knew their horses are in the upper class,” he said. “So starting at 106 helped us. Our heavyweight (Wyatt Hayes) is a little banged up, so we had to move some guys around. We’re rivals, Waterford has a good team, and they beat us last year. It carries over, and they beat us in football.”

“My sophomores (Gehring, Skrundz, Ehlen, Kumprey, Stevenson, Welker) have really stepped it up. They wrestle tough and have been making big gains. They worked hard in the offseason to get better. The matches were a lot closer than the way the score ended up. These kids wrestle together, they hang out and they know each other well. We’re pretty good across the board. We don’t have a lot of holes.”


Jared Krattiger and Nate Crayton moved up to 195 from their usual 182 Thursday, but Krattiger had his way with Crayton, who also has a good shot at this year’s state tournament. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


Krattiger keeps rolling

Krattiger remained undefeated on the season (10-0) and is currently the No. 1-ranked wrestler at 182 in the state of Wisconsin.

After shoulder surgery in April, Krattiger opted to skip football to focus on his wrestling scholarship to Division 1 University of Wisconsin.

The Badgers compete in the Big Ten, one of the toughest conferences in the nation, and they’ve already began developing a plan for Krattiger and his future success in the sport.

While winning a state title is the immediate goal, Krattiger envisions his career extending beyond college.

“I committed junior year, and I’ve been up at their regional training center,” Krattiger said Thursday. “I was up there every Sunday and Thursday in the offseason and competing against their starters.”

“I have an incredible relationship with them, and it’s making me a lot better. I’ve learned about wrestling when you’re tired and hard work. Those guys were whooping up on me and making me work. We were wrestling an hour straight, and I took down one of the starters twice. The coach looked at me with a smile.”

Krattiger said he had offers from other Division 1 schools, but choosing Wisconsin was a no-brainer.

The Badgers lost several seniors from last year, and they are bringing in some talented freshmen.

“We’re going to build,” Krattiger said. “We have some multiple-time state champs coming in from Wisconsin.”

“They have a training center for guys working to try to make the Olympics. That’s my plan. I want to train to one day make the Olympics.”

For the high school senior, Krattiger said he continues to work hard and is just having fun. The Wolverines have a deep squad and should make noise in the SLC. Most importantly, Krattiger is finally healthy after wrestling injured last season.

“Last year, I had shoulder problems and I was stressed all the time,” he said. “It was tough to not play football, but I started training for a national tournament in North Carolina. I took third. I’m all healed up, and I didn’t want to risk a good scholarship.”

Krattiger said in early October, the pain started to go away. He said his shoulder popped out of socket freshman year, and it tore his labrum. He said the shoulder would pop out during just about every match last season, so he had to wrestle conservatively.

As for Thursday, Krattiger said the Wolverines that lost are upset and want to get better. All is not lost, though Burlington now has a one-match lead in the standings.

“At the conference tournament, it could be a good chance to come back and catch Burlington,” he said. “I’m happy that the guys want to get better. We have a lot of good wrestlers that can score bonus points.”

Burlington competes in the Marty Loy Classic in Fond du Lac this weekend, while Waterford will battle in the Ed Stech Invite at West Allis Central.


Burlington 43, Waterford 20

106: Jaden Bird (BURL) over Lucas Johnson (WATE) (Fall 3:39) 113: Hayden Halter (BURL) over Joshua Cherba (WATE) (MD 10-2) 120: Sam Winski (WATE) over Cody Welker (BURL) (Dec 5-2) 126: Ben Stevenson (BURL) over Nick Goldammer (WATE) (Fall 1:30) 132: Zach Weiler (BURL) over Lucas Winski (WATE) (Dec 10-4) 138: Max Ehlen (BURL) over Jacob Cherba (WATE) (Fall 3:37) 145: Jake Skrundz (BURL) over Zack Kaminski (WATE) (Dec 3-0) 152: Anthony Christenson (WATE) over Ben Kumprey (BURL) (Dec 8-4) 160: Qwade Gehring (BURL) over Alex Guardiola (WATE) (Dec 7-6) 170: Zach Wallace (BURL) over Dalton Danowski (WATE) (Fall 1:01) 182: Christian Brenner (BURL) over (WATE) (For.) 195: Jared Krattiger (WATE) over Nate Crayton (BURL) (TF 25-9 5:11) 220: Jack Trautman III (WATE) over John Kubiak (BURL) (Fall 3:32) 285: Boyd Biggs (WATE) over Max Travis (BURL) (Dec 4-3)