Weiler, Bird, Welker, Skrundz all stand on podium, most in history

Jaden Bird took third at 113 pounds at last weekend’s individual state tournament. (Tim Burd/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

With the second-most wrestlers at the state tournament, 10, behind Mukwonago’s 11, the odds were in Burlington’s favor at last weekend’s WIAA Individual state wrestling tournament.

The Demons came through with four place-winners, the most in school history, as Burlington enjoyed an overall successful experience.

“I thought we had a tough first round, some because of matchups and others because of performance,” said head coach Jade Gribble. “But once we passed that the guys seemed to wrestle better.”

Jaden Bird (113) and Jake Skrundz (113) each landed in third place, while Cody Welker (145) took fourth and Zach Weiler (132) placed fifth.

“I didn’t know that was the most place winners we’ve ever had until it was brought up to me,” Gribble said. “I think it is a step in the right direction. Three of the four will be back and looking to improve on their position on the podium.”

 

Tough draws

Both Bird (44-4) and Skrundz (20-4) may have reached the championship round had it not been for tough matchups along the way.

Bird, the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the state, had to face top-ranked Cody Minor of Ashwaubenon, the eventual state champion, in the quarterfinals, where Minor won, 5-1.

Bird wrestled back to win his next five matches, culminating with an 8-2 victory over West De Pere’s Jake Hendricks to take third.

“Jaden had a great tournament,” Gribble said. “Jaden stayed composed has has shown immense improvement from last year.”

Skrundz advanced to Friday night’s semifinals, where he was edged, 3-2, by Sauk Prairie’s Bryant Schaaf, who lost in the final, 7-4.

He won four other matches, including a thrilling third-place match, where he won in overtime, an ultimate tiebreaker 3-2 decision over Stoughton’s Cade Spilde.

“His best match was against a very tough senior from Stoughton,” Gribble said of Skrundz. “Jake stayed composed and solid with his positioning.”

For Skrundz, it was a cherry on top of an injury-plagued season where he didn’t come back until conference because of a hurt shoulder.

“It’s pretty special,” Skrundz said. “I was hoping to get to the finals and take first, but it’s good.”

At 145 pounds, Welker (34-6) won by major decision and medical forfeit before semifinals, where he was pinned by eventual state champ Keegan O’Toole.

Welker bounced back to win his next match, but was edged 6-5 in the third-place match by Mukwonago’s Nate Stokhaug.

“I lost in the semis to a really good wrestler,” Welker said. “He beat me up a little bit. In the third-place match, I lost to a pretty good wrestler.”

“Cody has been on fire the last few weeks wrestling with a lot of confidence,” Gribble said. “He had a great tournament and only lost his third-place match after falling behind early and literally ran out of time as he had his opponent on his back.”

 

Weiler finishes career strong

Weiler, wrestling in his final high school tournament, lost in a tight battle in the semifinals, 11-10, then followed with another one-point loss before beating Mukwonago’s Josiah Lynden for a second time in the tournament, 5-1.

The unquestioned leader of the Demons, Weiler finished an excellent senior season with a 44-5 record.

“Zach lost two close matches that he was winning late in the match,” Gribble said. “Zach is a young man of high character, and although he feels like he could have done better, it is a great step forward for someone that wants to take the next step to wrestle in college.”

Ben Stevenson (126), Ben Kumprey (138), Max Ehlen (152), Qwade Gehring (170), Zach Wallace (182) and Wyatt Hayes (220) all lost in their first round matches last Thursday and were eliminated.

Burlington (13-6) received a No. 6 seed for this weekend’s Team State tournament, which begins against No. 3 Marshfield (16-3) Friday night at 5:30 p.m. at the UW-Madison Field House.

The winner will face undefeated Mukwonago (24-0) or Slinger (13-2) in a Division 1 semifinal about 30 to 45 minutes after the first round concludes Friday night.

“The 6 seed is exactly what we were hoping for,” Gribble said. “At this point all the teams are very good, and we are confident with out matchups. Right now, we just need to perform on the mat, and if we do I like our matchup with Marshfield.”

Skrundz said he will practice hard and go into the tournament with the right mindset.

He said the guys are good friends, and it helps on the mat.

“We are really good friends, and we train at Higher Level together,” Welker said. “It’s nice we train together there and train at the high school. We just push each other constantly.”

 

If you go

What: WIAA Team State wrestling meet

Who: Burlington Demons (13-6) vs. Marshfield (16-3)

When: 5:30 p.m., Friday night

Where: UW-Madison Field House, 1450 Monroe St., Madison

The skinny – Burlington, which won the Southern Lakes Conference with a perfect dual record, lost by one point, 27-26 in last year’s state semifinals and is poised for a better showing this weekend. Burlington is ranked No. 7 in the state in Division 1 according to Wisconsin Wrestling Online, and Marshfield is No. 4. A victory would likely set up a match with No. 2-ranked Mukwonago, which is 24-0 on the season.

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