2016 Badger Conference Tournament Preview
2016 Badger Conference Tournament Preview
By: Kevin Louis – “Electricguy” (2-2-2016)
As I queried last November in the Badger Conference Preview, can this conference be any tougher and deeper? This year we have had Stoughton, Milton, Sauk all bouncing around in team state rankings from 2 to 8. If it wasn’t for Milton and Stoughton being in the same Regional, you could expect all three of these teams at Madison come March. You also have a deep Mt. Horeb D2 team to add to the mix along with a talent laden Deforest team.
On the individual side, the conference will have 39 ranked wrestlers competing Saturday at Deforest. That alone is very impressive, but when you look deeper, the quality of those 39 is unmatched by any other conference. The Badger conference tournament will have 5 1 ranked wrestlers competing Saturday along with an additional 10 wrestlers ranked in the top 5.
First, a look at the team race this past season:
The Eagles have been battle-tested throughout the year, but probably no bigger test than traveling west and taking on the challenge of probably the toughest team dual tournament in the country, “The Clash” in MN. Sauk went 3-3 as a team, but loosing Drew Fjoser early in the event to injury hurt their efforts.
Adding to their resume was an early season win over Badger south rival Milton (31-20). They also had a tournament win at the Sun Prairie “Bob Downing Scramble” lapping the next closest team by 150 points. Add in a close second to Hudson at the Marty Loy. They wrapped up their tournament run winning their own Sauk Invite. Sauk did finish up their Badger North dual run undefeated with no real test along the way. They placed third at the Zelinski duals losing to Mukwonago and to Badger south rival Stoughton. With Sauk having 8 ranked wrestlers leading the way this weekend they could be the favorite if everyone returns healthy.
Milton probably lost more than any other Badger conference team with the graduation of its 2015 senior class, but gained some much needed experience with the cross town transfer of Vince Degennaro and the return of Evan Whitehead to their lineup. Milton had a nice dual win over 5 ranked Mukwonago. Adding those two to an already deep Milton lineup, had the Badger south champs again setting sights on a conference championship and a trip to Madison. Unfortunately Milton has been decimated by injuries throughout the year. A recent loss to Stoughton in the final conference dual of the season broke an impressive run of conference championships by the Red Hawks. Coming in with 5 ranked wrestlers, Milton has the possibility of placing up to 7 in the conference finals. They have to be considered as one of the possible tournament champions.
Stoughton is looking to repeat as Badger tournament champions in 2016. They come in with 7 ranked wrestlers, two 1’s and their remaining ranked wrestlers are in the top 6. Stoughton’s dual team had a nice run again this year with wins over 10 ranked dual teams in Milton, Elkhorn, Sauk Prairie, River Falls, Lomira, Lodi, Evansville, Spring Valley, Mineral Point, and Fennimore. Impressive team championships at the Badger State and Mid States tournaments and a 6th place finish at the tough Cheesehead ahead of two nationally ranked teams. Stoughton sustained two dual losses, one to the 2015 state champs 2 Kaukauna and another to Zelinski dual tournament winner 4 Mukwonago.
It will be a tight three way race for the Badger tournament championship with all three teams having the horses to pull out a win. As in most years, it’s going to come down to depth. With individual weights placing to 8th it will be the team placing enough wrestlers in the 5th through 8th spots that might pull off this conference tournament win.
Badger Conference Individuals:
For a weight that is missing some numbers this year, this group will have some solid state contributors led by Milton’s junior Dalton Shea 3, sophomore Zeke Smith 11 (Sauk) and freshman Hunter Lewis 10 (Stoughton) all jockeying for the top three spots. Ty Miller from Waunakee leads the next level and the remaining spots are wide open with a few teams not fielding 106lbs this year.
Here state champ and 1 ranked Brandon Klein (Stoughton) leads the way. This is going to be a highly competitive weight through 6th place with ranked wrestlers Dylan Herbrand 12 (Sauk Prairie), Daulton Franks HM and Pablo Ramirez 10 (Baraboo) and a talented unranked group of Nolan Kraus (Fort Atkinson), and Milton’s 106lb Andrew Wells. Klein should be the odds on favorite, but after that, it’s a toss-up.
This weight features Stoughton’s 4 ranked Kaleb Louis and Reedsburg’s 9 Mason McMillen adding to those two top ten ranked wrestlers would be Miltons Tyler Kersten, Portage’s Dylan Gohke and Fort’s Brendon Klien. The potential matchup between Louis and McMillen would be their first meeting.
Stoughton’s 6 ranked Tristan Jenny stands out here as the only ranked wrestler at the weight. Rounding out the top tier would be Forts talented Draven Sigmond, Mt. Horeb’s Tyger Frame, and Milton’s Austin Harms.
Going into this weight, it doesn’t look as though Sauk’s Fjoser 3 is going to participate in the tournament. Milton’s 10 Tristan Woods leads the way at this weight along with Sauk’s 12 Aaron Hankins. In addition an unranked trio that could do some damage are Stoughton’s freshman Cade Spilde who is having a fantastic year along with Monroe’s talented Cole Murry, Forts Rudy Travino and Oregon’s Sam Pieper.
Expect to see another great battle between ranked wrestlers in Stoughtons 5 Garrett Model and Milton’s 11 Vince Degennaro. This matchup has the potential to be the second of many more between them as they are in the same individual and team sectionals. Adding to the depth of this weight is Austin Rauls (Deforest) and after that it would appear wide open.
There shouldn’t be any surprise here when the dust settles to see 1 ranked, State champ, 3x State place winner Collin Kraus standing on top of the podium. A talented ranked trio of Milton’s Nick Richards, Sauk’s Bryant Schaaf, and Mt. Horeb’s Austin Stram will be looking on taking down Goliath before a 4th conference title is won by Kraus. Watch for Waunakee’s recent drop to this weight Nate Lorenz and Monona Grove / McFarland’s Bryan Reynosa to make some noise.
Here is the tournaments deepest class. Looking just at the top, you have 5 ranked wrestlers and 3 of them are in the top 4 in the state. Starting with Sauk’s 1 Eddie Smith followed by D2 2 Mount Horeb’s Brad Jones, and wrap that up with Stoughton’s sophomore 4 ranked Tyler Dow. Those three alone make for a must see bracket. Add in Deforest’s 9 Will Gahnz and Milton’s ranked Evan Whitehead, this bracket sets up to be my “spotlight” must see bracket of the tournament!
Leading this weight is last year’s state runner-up Jackson Hemauer (Deforest) the odds on favorite. Challenging will be familiar Badger North competitor 9 Zach Raymond (Baraboo). Adding depth at this weight are Reedsburg’s Trey Haugen, Milton’s Taylor Prochazka, MGM’s Liam Keeley, and Monroe’s Dempzy Foley.
Milton’s 7 Billy Pitzner leads the way in this bracket joined by 9 Alex Schodin (Deforest) and ranked Austin Kind (Fort Atkinson). Depth comes in the form of Stoughton’s talented Freshman Drew Pasold and Baraboo’s Hermes Duran.
We may have the opportunity to watch round three of the great battle between Sauk’s 4 Austin Powell and 1 D2 ranked Matt Blome (Mount Horeb). Powell winning the first matchup this season 4-3, with Blome taking round two 1-0. In addition, we add in Deforest’s ranked Kevin Rauls, Waunakee’s freshman Reed Ryan, and Milton’s young talented sophomore Jerry Lipke.
This weight should be a barn burner. You have Reedsburg’s Daulton Hahn ranked 3 with Waunakee’s 4 Trevor Statz, Deforest’s 12 Nathan Kemp, and Monroe’s D2 10 Hayden Arneson. Kemp recently knocked off Statz in their dual, so this figures to be a wide open bracket for the top 4 sports. Also, look for Milton’s Kyle Zucaro and Stoughton’s Jacob Groleau to be in the placements.
Rounding out Badger conference weights with ranked wrestlers is the 220lb bracket. Here we have 3 ranked wrestlers starting with Monroe’s D2 5 Traiten Gorr, 12 Waunakee’s Mason Ripp, and Sauk’s Logan Moore. Traiten should be the Odds on favorite here. Look for Reedsburg’s Dylan Lemoine, Fort’s Cole Beavers, and Stoughton’s Aodan Marshall all to be in the placement rounds.
This is probably the most wide open of the Badger Conference brackets as there is no clear favorite. I see Sauk’s Konnor McNeal, Milton’s Tom Rakestraw, Stoughton’s Erik Haried, and Monroe’s Kyle Walter all battling for the top places with any one of the four having the ability to take it all.
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