Spring Valley/Elmwood wrestlers meet high expectationsThe 2011-12 Spring Valley/Elmwood wrestling team could not avoid high expectations. They were defending Dunn-St. Croix Conference champions with an unblemished record. They had nine seniors on the team and plenty more returning lettermen. Because of all this, the Redbirds had received their highest preseason ranking ever. So SVE and met those expectations head on and won, finding themselves in the state team tournament for the first time.
The 2011-12 Spring Valley/Elmwood wrestling team could not avoid high expectations. They were defending Dunn-St. Croix Conference champions. They had nine seniors on the team and plenty more returning lettermen. Because of all this, the Redbirds had received their highest preseason ranking ever. So SVE and met those expectations head on and won, finding themselves in the WIAA State Team Tournament for the first time.
"They already going to be a year older, more mature and stronger if they did nothing at all before the season began," SVE head coach Carter Turner said. "But they embraced the expectations and wanted to reach what their peers felt their potential could be. They've worked hard in the offseason and during this season to get better. Having a good fall in football, which many of them played, did a lot to make them feel confident they were going to be winners in wrestling too and they've shown it."
Given the size of the senior class, its leadership would be important to Spring Valley/Elmwood's fortunes and they haven't disappointed as seniors Brady Webb, Brian Fesemaier and Andy Bune all placed at the recent WIAA State Individual Tournament and seniors Tyler Hunter, Nick Berg and Conner Sieracki all qualified for it. Seniors Steve Von Haden and Jon Newton both made individual sectionals.
"We're all family, we've been together at this for a long time," Berg said. "We all go to youth regional tournaments and state tournaments as a group together, our families would get hotel rooms and we'd hang out there. It was a lot fun."
Fesenmaier says their hard work has turned the close losses which kept them from reaching their goals in years past into wins this season.
"The team hit the weight room this past summer and it showed during football season," Fesenmaier said. "We went to a team camp too and we better technique and work ethic and that's helped us as well."
The Wisconsin Dells Invitational is where SVE saw for the first time on the mat how hard worked paid off. In just their second dual meet of the season, SVE knocked off Mineral Point, considered one of the top prep wrestling programs in the state and came within a point of beating another one, Kaukauna, a school treble its size in students.
"When we did well at the Dells tournament it was a turning point," Hunter said. "Beating Mineral Point, nearly beating Kaukauna, said in our minds that we're going for team state and getting there."
A veteran with plenty of good wrestlers needed a tougher schedule to test their mettle and they got it. They saw good competition not only at the Dells Invitational but also in the Dick Shiels Invitational where they wrestled against Minnesota state tourney teams Kasson-Mantorville and Apple Valley; against Lakeland Conference dual meet champions Clear Lake (who SVE beat twice) and Cameron, against Heart O'North Conference champion Ladysmith in the Division 3 team sectional, in the Northern Badgers as usual and Chippewa Falls Invitational against Chi-Hi and top ranked Edgar and state tourney team No. 5 Delevan-Dairen and within their own league. From top to bottom the Dunn-St. Croix Conference was one of the best small school leagues in the state and SVE conquered it by beating raked opponents like Glenwood City and Boyceville and winning the conference title on the road at St. Croix Central in front of a near-capacity crowd in SCC's Stempf Gymnasium.
"Team wrestling has been awesome this season," Brady Webb said. "The corwds have been loud and when you get win after win and people are cheering for you it gets you motivated and wrestling with a lot of passion and determination because you want to help the team do well. It's been a blast."
But it was a tradition tournament where SVE laid aside past disappointments and established itself and that was their regional meet. Last season the Redbirds finished third despite their unbeaten dual meet record and league title. This time around they won their first regional title since Spring Valley did so alone back in 1999, handily.
"We didn't want to graduate with any regrets," Sireacki said. "We didn't want to regret not going for it when we had the talent and experience to do so and we know we can do well there."