Wrightstown co-head coach Matt Verbeten has a few things he likes to do at every tournament his team goes to. First and foremost, he has small bouncy ball he calls the Focus Ball. He bounces it to each member, so they stay focused on their matches and have their head on straight. They have won three State Team Titles in wrestling, so the ball has a #4 on it. When they win their fourth, the ball will be switched to a #5. He also constantly takes notes during tournaments. He is keeping track of what his wrestler are doing right and doing wrong, one step closer to getting his charges ready for a very tough conference season and regionals, sectionals and state.
The Tigers used that focus and those notes to earn an eighth place finish in the 25-team Battle on the Bay tournament at Bay Port High School. It was the Tigers’ second straight top 15 finish at the Battle on The Bay, earning a 13th place finish last season.
“This is probably one of the toughest one-day tournaments in the state,” Verbeten said. “We only had one kid not a win a match in his pool, so 12 of the 13 wrestlers finished in the top 15. With four starters gone, placing in the top ten is a pretty respectable finish.”
Wrightstown used steady success from everyone to earn their top ten finish. Seven wrestlers finished in the top 10 of their weight class, and 12 of 13 wrestlers they took to Bay Port won at least one match. Due to injury, they didn’t have a wrestler compete in the 285 pound class.
Verbeten’s Tigers were led by Stetson Burmeister. The senior went 5-0 on the day, winning the 182 pound title with a 7-4 decision over Nathan Fuller of Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln. While Burmeister was the only Tiger to make the finals, a total of three wrestlers made the top four.
“Burmeister is just wrestling like a beast,” Verbeten said. “He is focused, doing what he knows how to do and he is doing it very well.”
Along with Burmeister, two other wrestlers, Ben Klister (152 pounds) and Joshua Verbeten (160), made the podium for the Tigers. Klister, going 4-1 on the day, earned a third place finish with pin fall of Shane Liegel of River Valley in in 3:06. His four victories were all by pin fall. Verbeten came up a little short and had to settle for a fourth place finish, losing a close decision to Jeremy Dedick of East Troy 3-2. Verbeten had takedown that was waved off because time had expired.
“Ben and Josh wrestled very well, but they both ran into some buzzsaws; kids that are just better than us right now,” Verbeten said. “We are going to get better and we are going to catch those kids.
Other top ten finishers for the Tigers include Walker Vandehey (9th at 106 pounds), Derick Bader (10th, 120), Darby Schumacher (7th, 138), and Brady Maes (9th, 145).
The Tigers next travel to Fond du Lac high school to compete in the Marty Loy Classic on Saturday, December 19th. Wrestling begins at 9am, with the finals at approximately 6pm.