Looking for a way to support and get involved with our program this year? At the high school level we are starting a tradition of honoring and recognizing our seniors by displaying an individual banner of each in the gymnasium throughout the season. The banners will be 6’x 2.5′.

As former wrestlers and coaches you understand the sacrifice and commitment required to be a part of the wrestling team for four years. This is just a small way we can thank them for their efforts.

We are looking for 7 sponsors to cover the cost of these banners. The cost per banner is $60.00. You may sponsor as an individual, couple, family or group. Sponsors will be recognized in our home dual and tournament programs.

Our 7 seniors this year are: John Roddick, Brock Polhamus, Justin Marx, Walker Polhamus, Cory Zimmerman, Logan VanTassel and Kobe Culpitt.

If interested please contact Derek Montgomery at derek.montgomery@gmail.com or Mike Montgomery at mmont0505@gmail.com.

Donations can be made at our website through the “Donate” button on the left hand side of the page.

apparel

The middle school season is already underway.  The high school season starts in four days.  Today is the day you should be grabbing your Sparta Wrestling apparel to support all Spartan wrestlers!  Here is how you do that.

Click here to view a selection of items for the upcoming season.  Orders are due December 1st with delivery likely coming after Christmas.

You can pay online too!  With each purchase, you help ensure that Sparta remains conference champs in the fashion department too.

The high school season starts on Monday, November 17th, but it’s never too late to get your pre-season training on and that extends to the day before the season starts.  On Sunday, November 16th, the Last Chance Camp will take place in the Sparta High School gym.  Here is what you need to know!

  • When:  Sunday, November 16th, 9:30am-3pm with a break in the middle from 11:30am-12:30pm
  • Where:  Sparta High School Gym, 506 North Black River Street, use the back entrance
  • Who:  Luther College’s Billy Huebner, a 1999 graduate of UW-L, been with Luther for six years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, has coached 64 NCAA D3 All-Americans and has run over 400 wrestling clinics across the country
  • Why:  It’s never too late to learn.

Here is what Coach Huebner has to say about the camp…

Camp Philosophy & Goals: This camp implements the Midwest style of wrestling. We teach the campers how to break down opponents, both physically and mentally.   This camp has helped wrestlers improve their technique by providing exposure to a variety of wrestling moves and attitudes. We are seeking out the wrestlers that want to strive to become better and be the elite wrestler. Our goal is to take wrestlers to the next level and to expand their knowledge in the sport. We want our campers to better their skills and training habits. These clinics are to help you learn technique and strategies so when you step on that mat during season, you will have the confidence you need to out smart your opponent.

These clinics have something very special happening. We have developed a unique style of wrestling into our teachings. We are known throughout the country for our prowess on our feet, and we will model many of the techniques that help define our style of wrestling. Our philosophy of dominating opponents on top, non-stop movement on bottom, combined with the attitudes of grinding out victories provides a winning way for athletes. These clinics are serious, but we will have fun. By going through these clinics we will both be part of something special. Take advantage of this opportunity!

This is a great opportunity to sharpen your mat skills before the season starts and to learn different techniques that you might not see on a day-to-day basis in practice.

If interested, please DOWNLOAD THE SIGN-UP FORM and mail it to:

Scott Zurfluh
604 West Main Street
Sparta, WI 54656

Cost of the camp is $45, which includes workout t-shirts.  Checks should be enclosed with the registration and made out to Billy Huebner.  Due date for the forms is preferably before November 15th, but same-day registration will be accepted.  Suggested grades are 3rd-12th.

QUESTIONS?  Contact Scott Zurfluh by phone at 608-738-5326 or by email at szurf@yahoo.com or contact Billy Huebner at 608-790-2468 or by email at coachbilly@luther.edu

After day one at the Luther College Team Camp, the Spartans are 3-1 and are in the championship bracket.  Here’s how Sparta did on the team side of things…

  • Sparta 47  –  Ankeny/Roch 25
  • Sparta 36  –  Triton/St. Clair 15
  • Sparta 45  –  Wapsie Valley 20
  • Sparta 22  –  Western Dubuque 24

In their final dual of the day, the Spartans lost 24-22 to Western Dubuque, but still won their pool thus advancing to the championship grouping.

Individual match results and results from all other duals in the first three rounds can be found here.

Joining the Spartans in the championship bracket are Albert Lea of Minnesota, Sauk Prairie and Western Dubuque (Black) of Iowa.  Sauk Prairie ended last year ranked fourth in division one in Wisconsin, Albert Lea finished ranked 9th in Minnesota Class AA (D2 equivalent in Wisconsin) and Western Dubuque did not finish ranked in Iowa’s equivalent of Wisconsin Division Two.  In the last rankings that included all teams in the state, Sparta was ranked 10th in D2.

For the most up to date results on how the Spartans are doing at the Luther College Team Camp, please visit the Luther College Wrestling Facebook page.

Congratulations to Mike Roddick, the new head varsity wrestling coach at Sparta High School.  There is no better person ready and capable of leading the Spartans than Coach Roddick. His passion, intensity and commitment to Sparta Wrestling are unequaled. Coach Roddick has been an integral part of the wrestling program since 1992.

Coach Roddick began his coaching and teaching career in Sparta in 1992 as the varsity assistant to Mike Montgomery. (Before coming to Sparta he was the varsity wrestling coach at Bangor HS while he was still in college). Together Coach Montgomery and Coach Roddick won three MVC championships, coached three wrestlers to individual state championships, and 24 total state qualifiers. After becoming an administrator in the Sparta School District in 1999-2000, Coach Roddick continued to coach wrestling at the youth and middle school levels. The past several years he has been actively involved with the high school program and its summer and off-season open mat and Freestyle/Greco program. He has a strong and positive connection with parents, alumni and coaches around the state.

Coach Roddick’s goal for the team and program is to be competitive at the highest level of state competition both individually and as a team. His “Team 1st” philosophy is geared towards bringing Sparta a state team championship and being competitive at that level every year. There will be no one who will out work, out coach or spit more fire than Coach Roddick.  His teams will be hard nosed, disciplined and mentally tough. They will continue to make our fans and alumni proud.

It’s time to get excited Spartan Wrestling fans. The Roddick Era is about to begin.

Stayed tuned for an upcoming interview with Coach Roddick and his thoughts on taking over the Spartan Wrestling Program.

Jennifer Roddick-Small - June 26, 2014 - 2:41 pm

Great article!!! Sparta is blessed to have him!

Joshua Tomesh - June 26, 2014 - 2:45 pm

Go get’em Mike!

Connie Jerome - June 26, 2014 - 3:49 pm

Great choice!!!! Congrats conch Roddick. Go, Fight, Win!!

Jessica Rose - June 26, 2014 - 3:50 pm

this is great news for Sparta Wrestling

Marty Walley - June 26, 2014 - 4:04 pm

Great choice! His passion for wrestling and dedication to youth is unsurpassed.

Jerry Schwarz - June 26, 2014 - 4:21 pm

Mike leads by example. Good choice!

All session times are from 6pm to 7:30pm.

All sessions will now be held at Sparta High School –  506 North Black River Street (this is a change from previous plans to have some at the AEC building)

  • Monday, June 9th
  • Wednesday, June 11th
  • Thursday, June 12th
  • Monday, June 16th
  • Wednesday, June 18th
  • Thursday, June 19th
  • Monday, June 30th
  • Wednesday, July 2nd
  • Monday, July 7th

These sessions will be structured and FREE.  No cost at all and you will receive high-quality training to make you a better wrestler for the upcoming season.

To see a detailed outline of what will happen at each sessions, click here.

If you want to be a part of the summer sessions, please download and fill out this form and bring it with you to your first session.

Any questions can be directed to Mike Montgomery.  You can reach him by email or by phone at 608-487-3604.

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Westby’s Cody See celebrates his victory in the state finals in 2010.

The end of the school year is near and that means one thing:  summertime wrestling is just around the corner.  There will be plenty of opportunities to get on the mat this year.  Between the Spartan Summer Wrestling Sessions and Sparta going to the Luther College Team Wrestling Camp, there will be ample opportunities to get into or stay in wrestling shape before the 2014-15 season kicks off this fall.  Let’s look at two of the opportunities the Sparta Wrestling Club is making available…

Spartan Summer Wrestling Sessions

The camp will focus on hand fighting and setups to take downs, offensive and defensive takedowns, series of moves from top and down positions, scramble situations, goal setting, nutrition, strength training and match strategies.  This is a free wrestling instructional camp sponsored by the Sparta Wrestling Club and will be highly structured and organized.

Cost?  FREE.  FREE.  FREE.

When?  June 9th, 11th, 12th, 16th, 18th, 19th and 30th.  July 2nd and 7th.  From 6pm to 730pm.

Where?  Sparta High School Wrestling Room.

Who?  Any wrestler between grades seven and twelve.

Clinician/Instructor?  Cody See, 3x WIAA state champion from Westby and UW-La Crosse varsity wrestler for 2013-14.

The nine sessions will lead up to Sparta’s Team Camp that we are encouraging Spartan Wrestlers to attend at Luther College from July 9th though the 12th.  The Luther College Team Camp is for upcoming 7th graders through Seniors.

To sign up for the summer sessions, please download a registration form here.

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Luther College Team Wrestling Camp

The Luther College Team Camps have grown into some of the best and biggest in the Midwest! Last year over 70 teams and 1000 athletes from seven states participated in our three outstanding team camps.

Who?  Any wrestlers who will be in grades 7-12 for the 2014-15 school year.

When?  July 9th-12th

Where?  Luther College in Decorah, IA.

Cost?  $295.  Checks should be made payable to Sparta Wrestling Club.

Clinicians/Instructors?  All 2014 camps will feature outstanding clinicians—recent clinicians have included NCAA Champions Brent Metcalf, Derek St. John, Tim Hartung, Jay Borschel, Damion Hohn, Steve Mocco, Zach Roberson, Jayson Ness, TJ Williams, Jeff O’Gara, Matt Pyle and All-Americans Ethen Lofthouse, Jason Welch, & Travis Paulsen, as well as Olympians Cael Sanderson and Brandon Slay and National H.S. Coach of the year Jim Jackson. You’ll learn from the best at our camps!

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So how do you register for the Luther College Team Camp?  Sign-up forms will be handed out at the Spartan Summer Wrestling Sessions.  Complete the forms and bring them back to a subsequent session and you’ll be ready to head to Luther College in July.

You can also download a form with more information about the team camp here.

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For over a year, we have been researching the dual meet records of Sparta Wrestling and filling in the gaps.  A team consisting of Mike Montgomery, Derek Montgomery and Pat Stevenson along with help from Guy Koehler and individuals from various communities around the state have helped us piece together the complete dual meet history of Sparta Wrestling.  Every dual from every year, Sparta’s all-time record against every opponent and more are available to view.  Big thanks to Pat Stevenson for his many hours in the local history rooms doing research.  The same to Mike Montgomery for helping compile this information and to Guy Koehler who supplied records to fill in the gaps for many years where we had no information. The records are fascinating AND YOU CAN VIEW THEM HERE.  Before releasing these on the Internet, we’ve compiled a large list of some of the most interesting facts from over 50 years of wrestling in Sparta.  Let’s see them.spartan-spacerSparta’s all-time record is 403-304-11.  The 400th victory in program history was the biggest win of the 2013-14 season–a 40-19 drubbing of Holmen.spartan-spacer

Sparta: The South Central Conference’s whipping boy

Sparta has seen a lot of success in recent years.  Since a 4-5 record during the 1986-87 season, the Spartans have only three losing seasons.  For any wrestler on the team right now, all they have known is success.  However, that wasn’t always the case.  Sparta had a hell of a time in one of the toughest conferences in the state through the 1960s, 1970s and much of the 1980s before the program turned a corner.  Let’s look at all-time records against former SCC opponents…

  • Adams-Friendship 15-5
  • Baraboo 9-21-1
  • Black River Falls 17-7-2
  • Mauston 11-15-1
  • Nekoosa 6-5-1
  • Portage 13-23
  • Reedsburg 17-30
  • Richland Center  0-13
  • Sauk Prairie 3-7
  • Tomah 25-34
  • Viroqua 5-9-1
  • Wisconsin Dells 6-26-2

Combined Record:  127-195-8. Yikes.  Then again, these SCC teams of a few decades ago were stacked.  Richland Center was a powerhouse and Sparta never came close to competing against them.  The closest dual meet between Sparta and Richland Center was a 30-11 loss during the 1962-63 season and the 13 points the Spartans put up against them the previous year was the most all-time.  Over the final five meetings between Sparta and Richland Center between 1965-66 and 1970-71, the Spartans managed to score 18 points in losses of 35-8, 42-2, 50-0, 44-0 and 43-8.  It’s been 44 years since these teams wrestled.  It was a tough conference and Sparta put up with a lot of abuse. Recent times have seen the Spartans fare much better against their old SCC mates.  Here is Sparta’s record against those same opponents since 1990.

  • Adams-Friendship 1-0
  • Baraboo 2-2
  • Black River Falls 1-0
  • Mauston 0-0
  • Nekoosa 0-0
  • Portage 8-3
  • Reedsburg 15-1
  • Richland Center 0-0
  • Sauk Prairie 1-0
  • Tomah 17-8
  • Viroqua 1-1
  • Wisconsin Dells 1-1-1

Combined Records since 1990:  47-16-1.  Much better.spartan-spacer

Sparta:  Perennial MVC Powerhouse

While Sparta had a long history of being a second fiddle team in the SCC, the program began to turn the corner during its last years in the conference in the mid and late 1980s.  Unfortunately, the program’s rise coincided with Sparta’s move to the MVC so Sparta’s all-time record against SCC teams do not reflect how much the program has improved.  To be fair, Sparta has enjoyed the type of consistent success over the last 25 years that the SCC teams enjoyed from the 1960s through the 1980s and most of them have fallen on harder times.  Different conferences, different fortunes for most of Sparta’s old SCC rivals. As such, Sparta gets to play the role of perennial power in the MVC that teams like Wisconsin Dells, Richland Center and Reedsburg occupied in the SCC.  In 25 years, Sparta has finished below .500 in conference only three times.  They’ve captured seven MVC titles and finished runner-up 12 times.  In those 25 years, they’ve accumulated a 107-35 record in conference, which is second best to Holmen’s 114-28 record and well ahead of Tomah’s 95-47 record.  To put into perspective how dominant Holmen, Sparta and Tomah have been, no La Crosse team has anything near a winning record in conference action.  The best, La Crosse Central, has a 55-86-1 record followed by Logan at 54-88 and then Aquinas at 45-55.  Onalaska is just 7-134-1 in 25 years.spartan-spacer

Dominance of La Crosse schools

While the Spartans were getting whipped on the mat by SCC opponents, they enjoyed a lot of success against Logan, Central, Aquinas and Onalaska.  Holmen wasn’t a regular opponent until the early 1980s.  Here is how the Spartans have faced against the La Crosse schools…

  • Holmen 14-19
  • La Crosse Aquinas 21-4
  • La Crosse Central 17-10
  • La Crosse Logan 25-6
  • Onalaska 28-0

That’s a 105-39 record.  Like Sparta never measured up to Richland Center, the Hilltoppers of Onalaska could say the same of Sparta.  Outside a 37-26 loss during the 1999-2000 season, the Hilltoppers have never really been competitive with Sparta.  The Spartans have shut out Onalaska four times and scored 60 or more points 16 times, 70 or more eight times and 80 or more twice.  Sparta’s 81-0 victory during the 2007-08 season is the most lopsided in program history.  One more interesting fact in this one-sided rivalry is that between 2006 and 2012, Sparta outscored Onalaska 384-12. Duals with La Crosse Central in recent years have been one-sided as Central struggles with numbers, but they were a dominant team in the MVC in the early 90s and 2000s, but have dropped off dramatically since then.  Good individual wrestlers, bad numbers.  Duals with Logan have been pretty competitive over the course of 31 duals, but most are won comfortably by the Spartans.  The same can be said for Aquinas. The last time Sparta lost to a team from the La Crosse area not named Holmen was during the 2005-06 season.spartan-spacer

Tomah and Holmen

Sparta has an all-time record of 25-34 against Tomah.  The early years were tough for Sparta as Tomah absolutely annihilated the Spartans during the rivalry’s first 19 meetings.  Sparta was never closer than 12 points in any of those duals and those included losses of 42-5, 50-0 and 43-0 from 1959 until 1961.  Sparta broke through against Tomah in the 1975-76 season with a 23-21 victory and since then have compiled a 25-15 record against their top rival.  They’ve won the last five meetings by at least 10 points.  Most lopsided loss was a 50-0 decision in the 1960-61 season while Sparta’s most lopsided victory was a 54-9 decision during the 1993-94 season. The rivalry between Holmen and Sparta is a newer one and a little more competitive.  The Vikings were pretty dominant until 2000 when they compiled a 14-5 record.  Since 2000, Sparta is 9-5.  Most lopsided loss to the Vikings was a 43-6 loss during the 1980-81 season.  Most lopsided victory was a 51-5 decision during the 1974-75 season. Together, Sparta, Holmen and Tomah have captured 22 of 25 conference championships.  Holmen leads the way with nine championships while Tomah and Sparta each have seven.  These include co-championships if the math isn’t adding up for you.spartan-spacer

Cleaning up and picking up (the pieces)

Onalaska isn’t the only team the Spartans have seen a lot of success against.  Here are a few others the Spartans have a happy history against.

  • Adams-Friendship 15-5
  • Arcadia 6-2
  • Black River Falls 17-7-2
  • Cashton 8-2
  • GET 6-1-1
  • Lancaster 11-5
  • Oregon 6-1
  • Racine Horlick 14-1
  • West Salem 6-0
  • Westby 17-8-1
  • Weston/Ithaca 5-0

And here are the teams the Spartans just couldn’t figure out over the program’s history…

  • Baraboo 9-21-1
  • Holmen 14-19
  • Mauston 11-15-1
  • Portage 13-23
  • Reedsburg 17-30
  • Richland Center 0-13
  • Sauk Prairie 3-7
  • Tomah 25-34
  • Viroqua 5-9-1
  • Wisconsin Dells 6-26-2

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Old foes

Sparta has wrestled no team more than Tomah (59 times) and Reedsburg (47 times).  While the early years were not all that great against Reedsburg and Tomah, modern times have favored the Spartans.  Until 1990, Sparta was 2-29 against Reedsburg and 8-26 against Tomah.  Since then Sparta is 15-1 against Reedsburg and 18-8 against Tomah.  Each team carried enormous winning streaks against the Spartans as well.  From 1966-67 until the 1987-88 season, Reedsburg won 21 straight duals while Tomah won 19 straight from 1959-60 until 1975-76.  We are talking decades without Spartan wins against these teams.spartan-spacer

Random facts

  • Sparta has a 10-9 all-time record against teams from Minnesota.
  • Here is a list of teams that Sparta wrestled at least 20 duals with in their history, but haven’t wrestled in 20 years:  Adams-Friendship, Black River Falls, Mauston, Wisconsin Dells
  • Biggest blowout?  Sparta defeated Onalaska 81-0 during the 2007-08 season.
  • Worst loss?  A 57-0 loss to Mauston during the 1984-85 season.
  • Sparta has scored 60 points 50 times, 70 points nine time sand 80 points twice.
  • The Spartans have shutout an opponent five times while having been on the losing end of a shutout nine times.  However, seven of the times Sparta has been shutout came before 1970.  The most recent was a 57-0 loss to Mauston during the 1984-85 season.  The last time Sparta shutout an opponent was the 2011-12 season against Onalaska in a 76-0 rout.
  • Most wins in a season?  The 2011-12 team went 20-4.
  • Least wins in a season?  Zero.  The 1980-81 and 1984-85 teams failed to win a dual.
  • Undefeated season?  During the 1987-88 season, Sparta went 7-0-2.
  • One-loss seasons?  1958-59 at 1-1-1, 2003-04 at 14-1, 2009-10 at 17-1
  • Double digit win seasons?  17 total.  It took 30 years before Sparta had a season with 10 or more wins, but they finally accomplished it during the 1977-78 season with a 10-3 record.  In the 36 years since, Sparta has accomplished it 16 times.

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The Sparta School District has formed a committee to study activity programs in the district and why some are successful and others not. The purported mission is to find out what makes for a successful program and how the district can be more supportive and proactive.  Now they have an opportunity to show how serious they are.  Head wrestling coach Jake Larsen is moving on to another position in Bettendorf, Iowa. How he is replaced will go a long way in showing how committed the district is to having and maintaining quality programs.

Obviously the goal is to hire a quality teacher first. However, a great coach is also going to be a great teacher and Jake Larsen is a good example of that. Consideration should be given to hiring someone that will be a good role model and positive asset to the school and community. Someone that will not only coach wrestling but involve themselves in other activities as well. Coach Lyle Blum, former Spartan head coach and current varsity coach at Onalaska High School, recently stated how his wrestling coach had completely changed his life around. He would not be in education or the parent he is now without having had his wrestling coach as a role model.

There will always be plenty of applicants for teaching positions but few for head coaching positions and even fewer that are qualified.  As a district one of the goals should be to hire college experienced student-athletes that have participated at a higher level and can bring fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and new technique to our programs.

Nowadays, you need to get maximum bang for your buck. It is not too much to ask teaching candidates what else they can contribute to the school and district, and if they are not willing to commit to coaching or involve themselves in other activities, they move down the list. Of the 17 head varsity coaching positions in the district, only 4 are filled by district staff members, 9 by non-staff, and 4 are currently or will soon be open. The numbers for non-staff vs. staff among assistant and middle school coaches is about 3-1. This is not the formula for building successful programs. The advantages to having staff vs. non-staff coaches, especially in the head varsity position are numerous.  They have experience and training in dealing with students, parents, other coaches and school personnel. They are also able to spend the time needed in the off-season to build their programs and work with their athletes that many non-staff coaches don’t have. It would stand to figure that the more coaches you have wandering the hallways and interacting daily with your kids, the more influence there would be on your child to participate in athletics and more desire to succeed. If you intermingle with people who don’t find it important than it becomes unimportant.

School board members represent the parents and community members in our district. The school board sets the vision and goals for the school district, and holds the administration accountable for results. They determine how administrators should manage their budgets and personnel. If you believe having quality coaches, successful programs and positive role models for our students and athletes is important, then let your school board member know.

Denise Murnane - April 28, 2014 - 4:31 pm

Wonderfully said. I have to tell you that I cried when I found out Coach Larsen was leaving. I cried not because I want to impede his personal progress and choices, I wish the very very best for him and his family, but simply because I am a selfish Sparta wrestling mom and understand that coaches/teachers, or even just a plain Good person he is, like him, with the vision he has and the desire to achieve his coaching goals and visions, are not a combination to be easily found. There are other superb teachers who have moved on from our school district, and a big hole was left.

Scott Zurfluh - April 28, 2014 - 7:52 pm

Well stated!

Mary Ellen Leis - April 28, 2014 - 11:33 pm

Well said! Losing Jake Larsen as a faculty member and role model for his students and athletes is incredibly sad for the Sparta community. Jake teaches with passion and coaches with passion and chooses to see individual qualities and strengths in his students and wrestlers. He, along with Bill Tourdot, brought great changes to the wrestling program which brought back Spartan pride for the entire community. As a parent of a past Spartan wrestler, I am forever grateful for the guidance and support that was given to our son, He is a better person for having been coached by Jake and Bill. It is commendable that the Sparta School District is finally looking into these programs to find out how to better them. Hopefully this will bring some changes and return spirit and pride to all of our programs. School spirit is slowing fading away in our district and that, to me, is devastating to our schools and community.

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Larsen (far right) was 84-20 in six years as Sparta’s head coach.

Citing an opportunity to be closer to family, Spartan head wrestling coach Jake Larsen is expected to sign a contract with Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, IA.  The move comes after seven years with the program including six as head coach.

Larsen’s six years as head coach at Sparta High School were among the greatest stretches in program history from both a team and individual standpoint.  His 84-20 record as head coach tied Lyle Blum’s record for program wins by a coach in two less years and with 27 fewer losses.  Over those six years, Larsen’s squads won three MVC championships, were consistently ranked in the top ten and saw 27 individual state tournament berths.  In 2012 and 2014, Larsen was named MVC coach of the year.

In January of 2012, Larsen was highlighted by the La Crosse Tribune’s Todd Sommerfeldt a program where participation numbers are booming when many other teams had a hard time keeping kids on the mat.  Sommerfeldt quoted Larsen as saying they accomplished this by keeping focused on the kids.

Many high school wrestling programs are struggling. The number of co-operative teams in the state grows each season.

But not one level in Sparta is, and that means a lot to Larsen, the high school coach.

While most communities are struggling to keep varsity lineups filled, Sparta is one – Holmen is another – that is flourishing, and that has led to plenty of recent success.

“Our constant focus is to keep kids,” Larsen said after his Spartans beat Aquinas 69-6 last week for his 50th dual victory. “We work really hard to keep kids out for the sport, keep it fun and keep the schedules filled for them.”

Full Article.

Larsen’s impact on the program may have never been more evident than this past season.  Sparta rolled out a lineup that was routinely without wrestlers at two weights and sometimes three.  Despite this, Larsen’s team compiled a 13-4 record, a surprising MVC championship and came within one match of going to team sectional.  All year long, Sparta’s wrestlers were healthy, rested and won matches when they needed to and a big part of that was Larsen’s preparation of the team for the season’s most important matches.

As mentioned in an earlier post on Spartanwrestling,com, Mike Montgomery had a lot to say about Larsen’s contribution to this year’s team.  Much of what Montgomery said can be applied to Larsen’s entire time as head coach at Sparta.

Coach Larsen has done a great job of putting and keeping a varsity lineup together this season despite the challenges of not having the upper weights to round out his line-up. The ability to win close matches this season has been the result of winning the toss-up matches and having our wrestlers prepared to compete when the pressure was on. The Holmen match is probably a great example of winning when the odds were against us. Coach Larsen has stuck with a plan and not deviated from it as far as conditioning and training for the season. The goal is always to be at your best and freshest at the end of the season and hopefully that is where the Spartans are at. With only three seniors on the team it could be considered a rebuilding year but those seniors have provided good leadership and the rapid improvement of a talented freshman group has been a pleasant surprise.

With all the talent in the freshman and sophomore classes it becomes equally important to maintain their level of improvement and development throughout the season. Coach Larsen brought in Coach Zurfluh to help with this transition and it has paid great dividends.  Coach Zurfluh has provided a nurturing, positive, and encouraging presence to the young wrestlers as they await their opportunity in the upcoming years. The sign of a strong and lasting program are high levels of participation and competition among the wrestlers for varsity positions. A state championship team needs to be 2 or 3 deep at every weight class. It is a very long and demanding season and anything can happen along the way. When you have quality wrestlers to fall back on, minor injuries, illnesses or other setbacks won’t impact the overall strength of the team as much.
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So where does the program go next and what type of coach should the program look to bring in?  We’ll examine that and more later this week.  Again, thanks to Coach Larsen for everything you have done for the program.  All the best in your move to Iowa.
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Enjoy a few photos of Larsen during his six years as head coach at Sparta…
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Sparta 7th grader Jon Bailey is competing this weekend in the USAW Kids Folkstyle Nationals in Cedar Rapids, IA.  Jon is competing in the Schoolboy 105 lb. class.

In the first round of 64 Jon received a bye; in round 2 he defeated Noah Hunt from Bloomington, IN. 8-4 to move into the round of 16. In the 3rd round Jon defeated Christian Minto from Cape Coral, Florida 5-0.  In quarterfinal action Jon defeated Brett Benton from Casper, Wyoming 2-0 to move into the semi-finals.   In the semi-finals this morning Jon lost to Tyler Eischens from Anoka, MN by fall in 1:30. Eischens, was a varsity wrestler for Anoka High School this past season as an 8th grader.  He finished 2nd in the District 7 AAA Sectional and qualifying for the State High School Tournament.

Jon will continue through wrestlebacks today having already guaranteed himself at least a 6th place National finish and still a chance for 2nd.

More information to come.