Three Monona Grove/McFarland co-op wrestlers are one step from competing in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 2 state tournament on Feb. 13.
Seniors Zach Gunderson at 152 pounds, Guenther Switzer at 220 pounds and Kristian Schlicht at 285 pounds all advanced to the sectional round Saturday in Mukwonago after finishing in the top two of the Jan. 30 regionals at Beaver Dam.
In team points, Monona Grove/McFarland finished sixth with 112 points. Stoughton ran away with the regional title with 281 points, more than double Beaver Dam’s second-place total.
Karl Voeck, the co-op’s co-head coach, thought his athletes were very competitive, despite participating in a smaller number of matches and dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.
“I thought the team prepared as well as they could due to the circumstances,” Voeck said. “The kids showed a lot of growth in a short time.”
Gunderson, who qualified for the 2020 state tournament, took first place in his weight class after defeating Oregon’s Seth Niday in a 6-1 decision. Gunderson is undefeated in eight matches this season.
Switzer stayed alive in the tournament after a second-place finish at 220-pounds.
He secured the No. 2 spot after defeating Nick Ludowese of Beaver Dam in a 7-3 decision.
In the heavyweight division, Schlicht dropped a 5-1 decision to Griffin Empey of Stoughton. It was his first loss this season in eight bouts.
Co-op Co-Head Coach Doug Peterson said they will be working on some basic skills with Gunderson, Schlicht and Switzer this week in preparation for the sectionals.
They expect other team members to be involved in those practices.
“They need their teammates to push them to improve their skills and work on different match situations,” Peterson said.
He added Gunderson is very hungry to make a return trip to the state tournament.
“It will be a tough road since they realigned the sectionals, but Zach is ready,” Peterson said. “He just has to take it one match at a time.”
In other weight classes, Jaden Denman at 126 pounds settled for third place after losing his first and second-place matches in falls.
The 132-pound Blare Wood also ended up third after losing the second-place bout in a decision but winning the third-place match in a fall.
Senior Elijah Newman finished sixthat 170 pounds after losing the fifth-place match in a fall.
At 195 pounds, Brandon Dyer-Ysaguirre ended in fifth place.
Saturday’s bouts at the Mukwonago sectional round are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.