From left:  Jon Bailey, David Hayes, Jaden Winchel, Brett Von Ruden and Hayden Krein. These five Spartans made the initial division one rankings for the third-ranked Spartans.

From left: Jon Bailey, David Hayes, Jaden Winchel, Brett Von Ruden and Hayden Krein. These five Spartans made the initial division one rankings for the third-ranked Spartans.

On the backs of a strong showing at the Ellsworth Invitational and a 46-21 season-opening dual victory against division three second-ranked Fennimore, the Spartans debuted at number three in division one in Wisconsin Wrestling Online’s first team rankings of the 2016-17 season.

Ahead of the Spartans in division one are defending state champions Kaukauna followed by Stoughton.  Following the Spartans in the rankings were Milton, the Joel Dutton-coached Kenosha Tremper, Pewaukee, possible sectional foe Sauk Prairie, Slinger, Kenosha Bradford and rounding out the top 10, Pulaski.

Other local teams in the rankings include two division two teams with Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyal at sixth in division two while West Salem/Bangor earned an honorable mention.

With the highest Sparta  has ever been ranked in any division, there are a number of Spartans that show up on the individual rankings.  They are…

  • Jon Bailey, third at 120 pounds
  • David Hayes, honorable mention at 138 pounds
  • Jaden Winchel, third at 145 pounds
  • Brett Von Ruden, 8th at 152 pounds
  • Hayden Krein, 1st at 160 pounds

MVC wrestlers in the rankings include…

  • Tanner Schultz, Holmen, 6th at 145 pounds
  • Kaylyn Jahn, Holmen, 10th at 182 pounds
  • Jaden Van Maanen, La Crosse Central, 1st at 152 pounds
  • Connor Williams, La Crosse Central, 4th at 182 pounds
  • Dawson Lambert, Tomah, 6th at 113 pounds
  • Hunter Pierce, Tomah, honorable mention at 138 pounds
  • Casey Curran, Tomah, 12th at 160 pounds
  • Houston Dorn, Onalaska, 9th at 285 pounds

This is the first rankings of the season so A LOT will change.  It just means that the Spartans have wrestled well in limited action this year and the people doing the rankings like what they see on paper.  People will change weights, breaks will go for and against the Spartans.  Don’t put too much emphasis on the initial rankings.  A lot will change in the three months.

Today’s finals matches at the Ellsworth Invitational will be livestreamed.  Check back here around 4pm as that is when tournament officials estimate the finals might begin.  As always, you can keep up with how the Spartans are doing via Trackwrestling if livestreaming isn’t your thing or you just want to follow the team throughout the day.  Good luck, Spartans!

Jon Bailey (left) and Hayden Krein (right) both picked up victories against some tough competition Tuesday evening.

Jon Bailey (left) and Hayden Krein (right) both picked up victories against some tough competition Tuesday evening.

The Spartans won 10 of 14 matches including the final seven to defeat the defending division three state team champions Fennimore 46-21 Tuesday evening in Sparta.

After Austin Zwiefel opened up the night with a 16-1 technical fall victory, Fennimore won four of the next six matches to take a 21-14 lead heading into the 132-pound match.  That would be as good as it would get for Fennimore as Sparta won the last seven matches–three by pin and two by major decision to turn a seven-point deficit into a resounding 25-point victory.

Match-by-match results are below…

195  –  Austin Zwiefel wins by technical fall over Brayden Leffler (Fennimore) 16-1, 4:22
220  –  Cody McCollough (Fennimore) pins Garet Pfaff in 2:41
285  –  Deven O’Brien (Fennimore) pins Noah Benish in 0:50
106  –  Blake Brooks pins Luke Blaire (Fennimore) in 4:36
113 – Mason Lull (Fennimore) pins Jakob Larson in 5:41
120 – Jon Bailey defeats Aidan Nutter (Fennimore) 5-2
126 – Thomas Kenney (Fennimore) defeats Thomas Treu 14-10
132 – Kyle Erickson defeats Trevor Wanek (Fennimore) 4-2
138 – David Hayes defeats Maguire Fitzgerald (Fennimore) 5-0
145 – Jaden Winchel pins Hunter Wardell (Fennimore) in 3:12
152 – Brett Von Ruden pins Will Ahnen (Fennimore) in 3:53
160 – Hayden Krein wins by major decision against Justin Tollefson (Fennimore) 12-0
170 – Matt Fahning pinned Tyler Klaas (Fennimore) in 5:22
182 – James Gann won by major decision against Conner Blaschke (Fennimore) 15-3
Sparta 46 – Fennimore 21

In what was projected to be one of the marquee matchups of the night, state finalists Hayden Krein and Justin Tollefson met in the 160-pound match.  Tollefson was a state runner-up last year while Krein was the 152-pound division one state champion.  It was all Krein as he dominated the match en route to a 12-0 victory.

Other big wins for the Spartans included Jon Bailey’s 5-2 victory over Aidan Nutter.  The strong Fennimore freshman kept it close throughout until Bailey went up 5-2 with a takedown in the final 30 seconds.  At 132 pounds, Kyle Erickson defeated Fennimore’s Trevor Wanek 4-2.  Wanek finished last season ranked 8th in division three at 106 pounds according to Wisconsin Wrestling Online.

Picking up pins for the Spartans were Blake Brooks, Jaden Winchel, Brett Von Ruden and Matt Fahning.  Winning by technical fall was Austin Zweifel and by major decision were Hayden Krein and James Gann.  It was a solid night of wrestling for the Spartans.

With the win, Sparta improves to 1-0 on the year.  The Spartans are back in action this Saturday at the Ellsworth Invitational.

Sparta kicks off the 2016-17 season with a home dual against the defending division three state team champions Fennimore.  Varsity takes the mat at 7pm.  Sparta will look to avenge last year’s 26-35 loss at Fennimore.

The Spartans return 10 wrestlers who competed in last year’s bout against Fennimore.  Here were the match-by-match results from that dual…

Last year’s dual results against Fennimore…

106  –  Blake Brooks defeats Thomas Kenney (Fennimore) 4-2
113  –  Trevor Wanek (Fennimore) wins by major decision over Jakob Larson 12-2
120  –  Riley Blair (Fennimore) defeats Jon Bailey 7-4
126  –  Riley Lull (Fennimore) defeats David Hayes 12-5
132  –  Alston Nutter (Fennimore) pinned Christian Lamon in 5:15
138  –  Brett VonRuden won by major decision over Hunter Wardell (Fennimore) 13-5
145  –  Jaden Winchel pinned Alex Cleven (Fennimore) in 1:36
152  –  Hayden Krein won by major decision over Justin Tollefson (Fennimore) 13-1
160  –  Trygve Zurfluh defeated Tyler Klaas (Fennimore) 7-2
170  –  James Gann pinned Derek Handfelt (Fennimore) In 1:36
182  –  Tavian Kaschub (Fennimore) won by major decision over Brady Hansen 13-4
195  –  Louis Heberlein (Fennimore) won by major decision over Austin Zweifel 8-3
220  –  Cody McCollough (Fennimore) pinned Loia Asaeli in 0:25
285  –  Deven O’Brien (Fennimore) pinned Noah Benish in 0:15
Fennimore 35  –  Sparta 26

We will have a dual summary and analysis after the match.  Good luck Spartans!

From middle school coach John McDonald…

The Sparta Middle School grapplers took to the mat on Thursday in their first meet of the 2016 season. They were hosted by Reedsburg middle school in a 3-team individual bracketed tournament. Teams represented were Sparta, Reedsburg and River Valley.

“Everyone wrestled strong through every minute of every match,” head coach John McDonald said. “We have a wide variety of experience on the team. Beginner first time to very experienced wrestlers.”

Leading the Spartans on the night were Corbin Hauser, Madden Connelly, Tye Klass, and Cade Pierce posting 2-0 records. Adding to the team  efforts were Carter Erickson, Zechariah Peterson, Hayden Brueggeman, and Nicolas Gann with 1- 1 records.  Marcus Cox and Dylan Smith both posted 1-0 records.  Rounding out the efforts were Jonathon Whitehead at 1- 3, Darius Krueger at 1-2, Zach Patzner and Carson Kelsey at 0-2.

“We are excited to get back to the practice room and build off our experiences,” said coach Adam Dow.

Sparta is back in action November 21st at Westby.

Now is the time to get your tickets for this year’s Grapplers & Grace.  The annual gathering of Sparta’s best wrestlers and dance team members will happen on Saturday, October 8, 2016 at the Sparta High School auditorium.  The social hour kicks off at 5pm with competition starting at 6pm.  VIP tickets are $10 while general admission tickets go for $5.  Tickets can be purchased at Cow97 or Ginny’s Cupboard in downtown Sparta.

If you haven’t been to one of these before–seriously why haven’t you been to one of these before–a wrestler and a member of the dance team are paired in a Dancing With The Stars styled competition.


Smith, Tom-304x300Andy Polhamus wrote this in memory of long-time Sparta wrestling supporter, coach, teacher, poet and friend Tom Smith.

Life happens to us all.

We make choices in our lives, and they are often made from the influences of strong people that were involved in them.
Tom Smith was one of those influences in my life.  He was a man for whom I had great respect.  He was NOT always good to me. He once kicked me off a a JV football school bus my sophomore year.  He had his reasons and they were valid at the time.
He was also always responsive to situations befitting of his military background.  Which is why he was often referred  to as “Major” –a rank he achieved while serving our country.

He admonished a fellow wrestler in the wrestling room once who was being disrespectful to the head coach.  His handling of the situation was done in a way that would not be well received in today’s society of lienancy and “understanding”.

I found his response to my teammate adequate and appropriate considering that I was being raised by a father that would have handled the same situation in the exact same way.

Coach Smith always chuckled or laughed with his huge shoulders moving in unison with his voice.  I distinctly remembered him doing this heartily once during a football practice when the offense ran a reverse.  I, being on the scout defense, recognized the play as the running back ran past me with the ball in the other direction.   I planted my feet to respond to the sudden change of direction, started to aggressively pursue the runing back while shouting the word “Reverse”.

The only problem with my plan was that Jeff Rasmussen, future Big 10 and Badger offensive lineman, was laying in wait as I made my move.  I was able to get “Rev” of the word “Reverse” out before Jeff just absolutely creamed me with a blind-side block.  I distinctly remember seeing Coach Smith’s big old shoulders and laughing face framed perfectly in the square of my face mask while I I lay prone on the grass.  He laughed so genuinely at the beautiful block that Jeff had administered.  He was a man that appreciated things that were done or executed in a perfect manner.  He also new that I would get up.  Him knowing that I would get up; made me know that I would get up.

He always taught you that you can “get up”.

His sons were/are exceptional athletes and individuals and I had the privilege of calling his youngest, Terry, my freind and teammate.  His wife, Mrs. Smith to me, always had a bright and friendly smile for you.

He was my Coach.  I have been blessed to have a lot of good ones in my youth.  He is the first Westling coach I have lost.  Our last interaction was at a dual meet a couple of years ago.  Prior to that, it had been years since I had seen him, and yet I will miss him dearly and my eyes well up now as I write this.

He was a man who cared,  He was a Coach, Educator. Husband, Father, Grandfather and a Viet Nam  Vet.  And, what I respected most is that he was an absolute badass who expected your best.

My children will be fortunate to have the same types of influences in their lives.

I raise a glass to Tom Smith tonight because as life happens to us all, so naturally does death.  But, death is inevitable, life can be what you make it.  Coach Smith did a tremendous job of teaching me that.

It is late and I grow tired trying to communicate this loss with words.  Thank you for giving me an opportunity to give some insight on the my wrestling coach that I, and the Sparta community, lost today.

The Luther team camp is just around the corner.  This will be the third year that Sparta Wrestling has been a part of this camp and it has proven to be an excellent camp for team-building and growth.  It also has provided an avenue for our upper class-men wrestlers to bring the younger wrestlers into the fold.  It is structured for wrestlers from middle school on up.

Below is some information regarding the camp and what you need to know if you want to be a part of this year’s Spartan contingent.

Registration Deadline:  June 20th.  Information about registration can be found here.  More information can be found here.

When is the camp:  July 6-9

Transportation:  Provided by the Sparta Wrestling Club via van or bus leaving from Sparta High School.  Whether it’s a bus or van will be dependent on the number of wrestlers participating in the camp.

Financial assistance:  The cost of the camp is $300 for a full-resident (all meals, housing and materials).  It is $245 for a day camper (noon and dinner meals, materials).  And $150 for a commuter (materials only, no meals or housing).

Additionally, the Sparta Wrestling Club wishes to provide the best opportunity we can to all our wrestlers that would desire to participate in the team camp.  Therefore, we have a contract we offer to either the wrestler or parent that simply asks for some time in return if the club provides financial assistance to a wrestler that desires to attend the camp.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to the club.

Training dates:  There will be eight training dates before the team camp begins for wrestlers to shake off the rust and get into better shape for the camp.  Those dates are June 6th, 8th, 13th, 15th, 20th, 22nd, 27th and 29th and are provided free of charge by the club with Cody See training our wrestlers in Folkstyle.  The training dates are an important part of the process of continually getting better as a wrestler and preparing for next season.  Use them as a springboard to the camp and to the season starting this fall.

All camp participants must return the following to the team coach, representative or Andy Polhamus.  You can send materials to Andy at 17750 Ideal Road, Sparta, WI 54656.  H can be reached at 608-269-6025 or by cell at 608-304-0115.

  1. Completed registration form OR copy of registration form if completed online
  2. Payment check OR email confirmation of payment if completed online
  3. Completed health form
  4. Photocopy of insurance card



Monica Hartwig, Wrestling Mom of Bronson Stark, passed away May 22nd after losing her battle with cancer at the young age of 46. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Stark/Hartwig family during their time of grief.

The death of Monica Hartwig is the second experienced by our wrestling community in a short period of time.

During this short period, I have witnessed first-hand the rally of our wrestling community in support of our wrestling families. It makes me proud to be associated with such a fine group of people that care about and support our wrestlers and families.

If you don’t realize it first-hand, then I will let the actions of the Stark/Hartwig family speak for me. They believe the sport of wrestling and our community’s support has been such a benefit to their son Bronson that they have requested in lieu of flowers donations for Monica Hartwig be made to the Sparta Wrestling Program.

What does one say to that? I honestly don’t know what to say to this family because “Thank You” doesn’t seem to fit. A mother and a wife is gone too quickly from this world, and the Stark family thinks of us.

This request makes it obvious to me that the direct support and involvement of our coaches speaks volumes to the quality of individuals we have leading our young men and women and I hope they are proud of their efforts. I know I am.

To me, it also should make anyone of you– past, present, and future–understand that your influence on a young athlete can and does have profound effects–not just on the individual-but an entire family.

Sadly, it too often takes tragedy to bring us perspective. We are doing good things folks. Things that positively effect an athlete and family well beyond any individual successes that may be experienced on a wrestling mat.

Andy Polhamus
President Sparta Wrestling Club

Good Morning All,

If you are not aware, the Sparta community and our Sparta Wrestling family has tragically lost one of our own. Yesterday, former Sparta High School student and Sparta Wrestler, Margo Degenhardt died in a one vehicle accident. Naturally, Margo was more than a wrestler; however as a wrestler, she was a excellent teammate and leader.

She also came from a tremendous wrestling family. Her mother and father, Ann and Dave, have always supported the wrestling team and club during and after their children’s direct involvement. Her brothers, Quincy and Logan, were both outstanding wrestlers who qualified and placed at the state tournament. Both brothers also coached and continue to coach–providing a positive influence to our Sparta program.

Our heart goes out to them as they do their best to manage through this family tragedy.

Andy Polhamus
President – Sparta Wrestling Club

We would like to specifically thank all alumni and fans associated with Sparta Wrestling who responded to the Sparta Wrestling Club’s request to “Sponsor” a wrestler for the banquet.
Additionally, the Sparta Wrestling Club would like to thank all of those who have donated their time and resources to support Sparta Wrestling over the years.
Ranging from direct donations and sponsorships to time spent at a concession stand or hovering over a stove browning and seasoning meat for a walking Taco, our wrestling team sees support from our community in so many ways and it is truly appreciated.
It is this support that allows us to cover the expenses for functions like tonight’s banquet and initiatives listed below.
  • Freestyle and Greco Training (10 Sessions with an outside clinician).
  • Folkstyle review and training leading up to the team camp (10 sessions with outside Clinician).
  • Promotion and support of getting our wrestlers to some national tournaments.
  • Supporting our coaches by providing access to the info and tools that give our wrestlers the most up-to-date training equipment and techniques.
Thank you all once again and we look forward to Sparta Wrestling’s continued success.
Andy Polhamus