Football teams, individuals highlight action-packed year

The Burlington wrestling squad posed after winning the Racine Park Sectional back in February. (Tim Burd/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk


  1. Wrestling ride ends at team state

One week after winning the WIAA Division 1 state championship wrestling at 106 pounds, Hayden Halter and the Burlington Demons found themselves right in the thick of a team state championship hunt.

But Holmen just a bit too good, downing the Demons 28-27 in what is Burlington’s deepest run at the “other” wrestling state tournament.

Controversy arose from a when it was revealed Halter’s celebration after winning his match against Holmen – he did his standard muscle flex – cost his team one point, which wound up being the difference in the contest.

The referees were hyper-strict on the grandest stage, saying Halter’s gesture, something he does after every victory, was directed at the Holmen bench and crowd, though it just so happened to be where the talented grappler’s body was located the instant he stood up.

Halter, a Rochester resident, now attends Waterford Union High School, and the sophomore is undefeated this season at 120 pounds.

As for the Demons, stars were born like Max Ehlen, Jake Skrundz, Qwade Gehring, Zach Wallace, Ben Stevenson and the list goes on.

The loaded Demons are currently leading the Southern Lakes Conference with a perfect record.

But their 2018 run, which included seven state qualifiers, a state champion and a top-four finish at team state, will never be forgotten.


  1. 3 in a row

Trey Krause earned the prestigious 2018 All-Area Softball Player of the Year award, leading the Demons to a record third consecutive state tournament appearance back in June.

Krause and Trent Turzenski were unhittable at Kenosha Tremper High School on a long, unseasonably cold and windy day back in late May as Burlington crushed both Tremper and Kenosha Indian Trail to capture the sectional crown.

In Appleton, Krause’s stellar pitching performance kept the Demons in the game against eventual state runner-up Arrowhead, but the Warhawks got a late run to advance to a state semifinal later that night.

Scott Staude, who will enter his 21st season as head coach in April, will see his top two starting pitchers, Krause and Turzenski, return for their senior seasons.

With WIAA Summer Baseball state champion Muskego entering the Demons’ sectional for the first time, expect another dog fight for a trip to Fox Cities Stadium with teams like Burlington, Muskego, Westosha Central and Wilmot all in contention.


  1. Tenhagen enjoys best season despite majory injury to Webley

What will go down as former Burlington High School student Steve Tenhagen’s best record as Demons head coach in his five years, the 2018 high school football season had its twists and turns.

Despite losing all-state wide receiver Nick Webley, junior quarterback Dalton Damon helped lead the Demons to a 7-2 regular season, their best mark since 2005.

But it was Webley, who verbally committed to play college football at Division 2 St. Cloud State (Minn.) University, that made the biggest impact on the season.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound stud athlete has been timed at 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, and he used every bit of his height and speed to dominate competition in 2018.

Webley was leading the state in receiving yards and touchdowns for the 4-1 Demons when he was carted off the field with a leg injury in Paddock Lake against Central in late September.

Webley broke his leg and had to miss the remainder of the season.

Currently, he is walking and in less pain and plans to be back for the spring track season, where he could win state in the long jump.

Webley also is missing the basketball season, where he most likely would’ve been one of the team’s best players.

As for the Demons, they persevered to go 3-2 without their top offensive threat, including solid victories against Elkhorn and Westosha.

Lucas Zasada replaced Webley in the passing game and was a major threat downfield, finishing with an impressive eight touchdowns, 35 catches and 617 receiving yards, somehow a few yards less than Webley despite playing four more games.

In the playoffs, Burlington was blanked, 24-0, at mighty Brookfield East.

However, the team’s resolve and determination is sure to carry over into 2019, when Dalton and Zach Wallace will lead a strong offense.


  1. Toppers return to football field

It wasn’t a year with expectations of championship grandeur for the Catholic Central football team.

Instead, the Toppers were simply happy to field a full team, only months after being forced to forfeit the final three games of the 2017 season, something only one other county football team had experienced.

The state of the program, one with multiple state championships, was in flux due to injuries and only about 20 healthy players.

But that all changed in 2018, as Tom Aldrich’s squad not only competed but won a few games in what was one of the state’s deepest conferences.

Aldrich credited his strong school and coaching staff for continuing to believe in him and play football, and the Toppers were lucky enough to stay healthy.

They enjoyed two selections on the 2018 SLN All-Area Football team, Chas Miles and Simon Pedone, and long snapper Tyler Shaw recently played in an All-American showcase down in Texas.

Other key contributors included Todd Suchomel, Tristan Welka, Cade Dirksmeyer, David Doerflinger and Brandon Pum.


  1. Klug weathers the storm

About a year ago, 2018 Burlington High School graduate Nick Klug suffered a pair of devastating injuries just about a week after breaking Tony Romo’s all-time scoring record.

In the beginning of 2018, he was officially ruled out of the remainder of the season, and the Demons struggled to a .500 overall record after starting the season with a winning mark.

Relegated to motorized scooter and crutches on the sideline, Klug initiated cheers and passed on his knowledge of the game, hoping to return to the court and continue his dream of playing college basketball.

In the summer, Klug finally got his chance, playing in the state All-Star game at Just-a-Game Field House in the Wisconsin Dells.

Not satisfied with simply shaking off the rust, Klug buried seven 3-pointers and totaled 27 points to lead his team against the North stars, who featured state player of the year and Division 1 West Virginia University recruit Jordan McCabe.

Klug returned to the court in May, and the 6-foot star is back to slam dunking and breaking down opponents with his quick handles for Division 2 Winona State University.


  1. Burling makes history

Just a few months after Klug became the Demons’ all-time leading scorer for the boys, Jessa Burling duplicated the feat for the girls program.

Not only is Burling the all-time leading scorer, but she also is No. 1 in rebounds, assists, steals and more for a program that has been around 40 years.

The 5-foot-8 combo guard led the Demons to their best record under head coach Mary Parker at 15-8 along with a second-place finish in the SLC and a playoff victory before the team was stunned in a regional final against Waterford, a game that went to overtime.

Burling averaged 16 points, nearly 12 rebounds and 3 assists and was named the 2018 Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area Player of the Year.

She currently is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


  1. Gymnastics returns to prominence

What most of you know as BBW is now BUW.

The acronym-friendly Burlington gymnastics team, which includes athletes from Union Grove, Wilmot, Lake Geneva Badger and Williams Bay, won its eighth straight Southern Lakes Conference title in 2018.

Regan Cassidy advanced to the individual state tournament, and the entire team competed at team state.

Cassidy, Malia Bronson and Ava Trent may have formed a new “Big 3,” harkening back to the glory years of Bailey Fitzpatrick, Jenna Fitzpatrick and Molly Benavides.

Another key contributor this season is Malia’s older sister, Maddy, who recently won the all-around at the prestigious Emerald Classic.