Big Eight Conference wrestling meet is wide-open
That’s the scenario heading into the Big Eight Conference wrestling meet Friday at Middleton High School.
Four teams are expected to contend for the title, including three-time defending champion Janesville Parker.
Beloit Memorial went 8-0 to win the dual title, which is a separate entity. So the Purple Knights obviously are among the favorites, while Janesville Craig and host Middleton also are expected to contend.
“It’s going to come down to whoever wrestles well on Friday night,” Craig coach Jeff Kaster said. “Beloit lost a stud at 119, and Parker lost (Enio) Perez at 171 to injuries, so that makes things even closer.
“This is the first time in a number of years where there isn’t a prohibitive favorite. We’ve got everybody healthy for the first time all year, and if we can get four or five kids into the finals, we’ll have a shot at winning it.”
Six individual champions return, led by Parker senior Ryan Holden at 112 pounds. He is 24-0 and ranked fourth in the state in Division 1 by Crossface Magazine.
Holden has not been tested since winning the Mid-States title over sixth-ranked Joey Marsh of Wausau West in December.
Teammate Harold Lloyd will attempt to retain his conference title at 285 pounds and enters the tournament with a 20-1 record. Parker’s Evan Cavey won the 103-pound title last year and will wrestle at 119.
The other returning champions are Middleton’s Ben Brummel (160) and Tyler Christiansen (171), along with Beloit’s Alex Polizzi at 215.
“It’s going to be close,” Parker coach Ron Cramer said of the chase for the team title. “Every match and every point will be important.
“I know our kids are looking forward to the challenge of defending the title.”
Freshman Siven Furseth and senior Blair Kessler will lead Craig’s bid. Furseth is ranked fourth in the state at 103 pounds and is 30-0. Kessler is 27-5 and went unbeaten in conference duals at 189 pounds.
“Since Blair moved from 215 to 189, he’s really been wrestling well,” Kaster said. “And Siven has been everything we thought he would be. He’s beaten three state-ranked wrestlers already, and probably won’t be tested until the sectional meet.
“Obviously, we’ll need more than just those two doing well to have a chance. We’ve got other kids that have really stepped up, and the last month or so, we’ve wrestled really well as a team.
“The difference between a fourth-place finish or a third-place finish at a certain weight class could be the difference between a team winning the title. That’s how close I think it will be.”