Big Eight wrestling meet appears to be wide open again
Last year’s Big Eight Conference wrestling tournament came down to the last match before anything was decided.
Janesville Parker’s Alex Craker won the 285-pound title by pin to give the Vikings yet another conference crown.
Will Saturday’s Big Eight Meet at Madison La Follette produce the same kind of drama?
Janesville Craig head coach Jeff Kaster thinks so.
“I probably said the same thing last year, but I really believe it’s wide open as far as who wins conference on Saturday,” Kaster said. “Parker and Sun Prairie might be slight favorites, but in a one-day tournament, you never know. If we can get healthy, we could be right there, too.
“It usually comes down to what team can put up points in the most weight classes. You almost have to get points from every kid that wrestles for ya. A lot of times those third- and fifth-place finishes end up deciding it.”
Parker and Sun Prairie tied for the Big Eight dual meet title with 7-0 records, but obviously did not wrestle each other during the season. The Big Eight eliminated two conference dual meets this season and next to cut back on traveling expenses.
“I don’t think any of the coaches liked the idea, but that’s the way it is,” Kaster said.
Six wrestlers will defend titles Saturday, including Parker’s Adam Cavey (103) and Craig’s Siven Furseth (112). Cavey is at 112 this season, while the 27-0 Furseth is the top-ranked wrestler in the state in Division 1 at 130 pounds.
Other returning champions are Sun Prairie’s Chase Steiner (119), Verona’s Jared Kissinger (125) and Chris Schmid (135), along with three-time champion and Northwestern University recruit Alex Polizzi of Beloit Memorial at 215.
“Craig and Parker should dominate the lower and middle weights,” Kaster said. “Both teams are very strong there. The upper weights are wide open.”
Parker has state-rated wrestlers in Austin Gonzalez at 103, Brennan Casey-Schmidt at 119, along with the Cavey brothers, junior Adam and senior Evan, who are also both former conference champions.
Kaster expects seniors Drillon Grajcevci (189) and Mike Spaulding (215) to make big contributions Saturday, along with juniors Jamie Kumlien at 125 and Chris Pierce at 135.
“If everybody scores for us, we have a good chance,” Kaster said. “We have to score where we expect to, and have a couple of other kids step up for us.”
After Saturday’s conference meet, Craig and Parker will compete in the Division 1 Verona Regional on Saturday, Feb. 13, followed by the Wilmot Sectional on Saturday, Feb. 20.