And then there were four.
The Wrightstown Tigers wrestling team qualified four individuals for the WIAA State tournament in Madison on Saturday at the Individual Sectionals hosted by Oconto Falls High School.
Josh Verbeten, Ben Klister, Brandon Buechler and Stetson Burmeister all parlayed their success as the sectional tournament into a trip to the individual state finals.
“I couldn’t be happier about how our guys wrestled Saturday,” said co-head coach Matt Verbeten. “To have four out of five guys qualifying is awesome.”
Verbeten will be making the trek to Madison as Sectional Champion, and did it in dramatic fashion. In a back and forth battle in the finals, the #7 ranked 145 pounder in the state was able take #8 Nate Trepanier of Oconto Falls into overtime. After a lengthy battle, Verbeten was able to pull off a reversal in the closing seconds to pull off the victory.
“Going into that second overtime, I knew that he rode the legs, so I knew it was going to be a scramble for the whole 30 seconds,” Verbeten said. “I just did a little switch, got into position, and came up on top.”
Coach Verbeten was impressed with Josh’s ability to battle.
“Josh showed why you wrestle the whole match and never give up,” Coach Verbeten said. “To come from behind in the 3rd period in the semis and winning a scramble in double overtime in the finals is an example of battling the Wrightstown way.”
#8 ranked Ben Klister battled to a second place finish at 152 pounds, dropping a 20-5 technical fall to #1 Dewey Krueger of Oconto Falls. Brandon Buechler battled his way to a second place finish by way of a technical fall over Slade Erdman of Tomahawk and a victory over Dalton Smercheck of Luxemburg-Casco in the second place match. Stetson Burmeister posted a third place victory over Jake VanGrinsven of Freedom, 11-6.
One sectional qualifier, Bryce Herlache, was unable to qualify for states.
Coach Verbeten had high praise for all of his wrestlers.
“Ben is just a scrapper. He will pin you from anywhere,” he said I am so proud of Brandon to finally make it after being so close last year and both guys battling all the way back to second place. After losing a close one in the semis, Stetson dug deep to win his next 2 matches to take 3rd. and Bryce battled with the two guys that qualified at 160 pounds, losing by one point to one, and two points to the other. There is a lot pressure in these matches and those guys really stepped up.”
Klister, Buechler and Burmeister will all be wrestling on Thursday February 26th, while as a sectional champion, Verbeten gets a bye and will wrestle on Friday, February 27th. The Individual State Tournament is held at the Kohl Center, in Madison, WI.