Demons feature 8 in championship round

Burlington won its first outright SLC title since 2015 Saturday. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

And Troy Sparks

Sports Correspondent

Take one glimpse at the 220-pound conference title bout between Burlington’s Max Travis and Waterford’s Jack Trautman last Saturday, and the casual spectator saw all he or she needed to know about the SLC tournament.

Undefeated in the dual and tournament season, Burlington was expected to win, but Waterford was going to do anything in its power to stop the Demons.

Moved up to 220 from his usual 195 pounds to “take a champion away from Burlington,” Trautman looked more motivated than ever, and Travis took exception.

The heavier Travis twice emphatically drove Trautman to the mat after the two wrestlers were out of bounds, and Trautman let the Burlington fans know via a “W” hand gesture who he thought was the better team.

Trautman won the battle, 10-5, but the Demons won the war.

Burlington claimed its first outright SLC title since 2014-2015 season, and the state’s No. 4-ranked team remains well on its way to a state team tournament berth with regionals at Kenosha Bradford this Saturday.

“We had a good day at the conference tournament,” Burlington coach Jade Gribble said. “I know some kids are not happy with their performances, but this team seems to have different individuals step up on different occasions. This weekend it was Max Ehlen, Jake Skrundz and Qwade Gehring’s time. In the seven matches they competed in, they had six falls. All three were dominant all day. We are looking forward to regionals and working our way down to Madison for the WIAA state meet.”

The 236 team points that the Demons scored was more than 25 points more than second place Waterford (211.5). Behind them were Elkhorn (187.5), Badger (165.5), Wilmot (118), Union Grove (103), Westosha Central (65) and host Delavan-Darien (59).

“We’re just trying to stay grounded and focus on one match and one meet at a time,” Gribble said.


Max Ehlen cheers on his teammate during Saturday’s SLC tourney. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

The super sophomores

Burlington sophomores Max Ehlen (138), Jake Skrundz (145) and Qwade Gehring (160) captured the Demons’ three titles.

Ehlen, ranked No. 7 in the latest Division 1 poll, was one of three Burlington wrestlers who won championships. Ehlen beat No. 12 Elkhorn sophomore Coleman Karl 6-2. Karl moved down from 145 to wrestle Ehlen.

“Max Ehlen had a fantastic day,” Gribble said. “He was on fire attacking from beginning to end.”

For Ehlen, he knew he had to be aggressive since he had never faced Karl.

“He’s a good wrestler, so I had to hammer on top and keep him down,” Ehlen said.

Skrundz followed Ehlen with pins in all three matches at 145.

“I felt pretty good from all the energy and hype of the big tournament,” Skrundz said. “I had to go out there and dominate. I started slow but picked it up.”

Gehring, who Gribble said dominated his matches, made quick work of the last two wrestlers he faced after receiving a first-round bye.

He pinned Alec Linn (Badger) in 32 seconds and Aaron Taylor (Elkhorn) in 1:07.

“The energy from the team helped and was key to my victory,” Gehring said.

Gehring, Skrundz and Ehlen said they’ve been wresting together since grade school, and they feed off the energy of their teammates.

“Great teammates,” said the trio simultaneously when asked why the team has been so good.

All three said their goal is not only to do well at individual state, but also to win team state.

“I want to win team state with my teammates and do it for Burlington,” Ehlen said.


Team depth leads to title

Five Burlington grapplers lost in their championship matches to finish second. Third-ranked 113-pound sophomore Hayden Halter lost to Jake Stritesky, 7-2, in what Gribble called an upset.

“It was a close match, but Hayden lost it at the end,” Gribble said. “We weighed in a little light at conference. But Hayden is very athletic and very skilled, and he’ll bounce back at regionals.”

. Stritesky moved down from 120 to wrestle Halter.

Joey Graham got an upset win over No. 8 sophomore Cody Welker at 120. Waterford junior Alex Guardiola (honorable mention) pitched a major decision shutout on Ben Kumprey at 152 (9-0).

The showdown at 182 between Burlington senior Nate Crayton and Jared Krattiger was a lopsided technical fall win for the Waterford top-ranked senior (23-8).

Two Demons won their third-place matches. Honorable mention Burlington sophomore Ben Stevenson beat Waterford senior Sam Winski (honorable mention at 120) 7-1 at 126 and honorable mention junior Zach Weiler pinned Drew Hebior (Wilmot) in 2:50.

Freshman Jaden Bird (No. 6) lost his third-place match to Elkhorn freshman Payton Jacobson (honorable mention) 2-1 in overtime.

No. 12 Elkhorn senior Myles Schumacher squeaked by Zach Wallace 6-5 at 170. Wyatt Hayes bounced back from a semifinal major decision setback to pin his next opponent in the consolation semifinals but was pinned by Kyle Freund (Badger) in 4:42. All three Burlington wrestlers finished in fourth place. Nate Bousman was pinned in his two matches at 195 and didn’t place.