SPARTA — Ryan Stalsberg spent the first two periods of his 138-pound match against Trystan Zurfluh letting the action come to him, then defending it.
He was completely comfortable doing that, and Sparta High School wrestling coach Jake Larsen knew that.
But Zurfluh couldn’t push the tempo enough and found himself right where the Holmen junior wanted him when the third period began at Alton D. Ask Gymnasium on Thursday.
As escape with 38 seconds remaining snapped a scoreless tie, and a takedown almost immediately afterward allowed Stalsberg to score a significant victory as the Spartans and Vikings battled for the MVC lead.
Holmen built a big lead, gave it up and then won 34-28 when the final match was won by forfeit in front of a crowd of roughly 1,000 people.
“I knew it could be a zero-zero match going to the third,” said Stalsberg, who won the match 3-0. “I knew I would be strong and ready to go in the third, so I felt fine.”
Stalsberg (32-4) then controlled those final 38 seconds and gave his team a big win that produced an 18-10 lead.
“It’s always easy to see how Ryan is doing because I can see it just by looking at him,” Holmen coach Jason Lulloff said. “I could tell he was going to be fine.”
Stalsberg said he knew Zurfluh was a good wrestler from watching him last season.
“I saw him wrestle a lot of good matches,” Stalsberg said. “I know this was one I was going to have to work for.”
The Spartans (2-1) battled back from a 28-13 deficit with pins at 195 and 220 pounds. Chase Bernett’s pin of Ryan Hesselberg at 220 tied the score before Holmen’s Hunter Hauser was awarded the winning victory via forfeit.
The Spartans, ranked fourth in Division 2 by Wisconsin Wrestling Online, were without injured 285-pounder Joseph Benish and had to watch their comeback fall short without a final match.
Sparta also wrestled without Brock Polhamus at 132, and Holmen’s Darius Wright (28-5) took full advantage by scoring a pin in the first period.
Both teams had to compete without a handful of wrestlers due to injury, illness or skin disease, and Holmen seemed to win because it made a smoother transition with its lineup.
The Spartans missed out on a couple of chances to turn the tide — Greg Skon putting Tyler Westpfahl on his back and not getting a pin early in the 170-pound match — was one of them. Westpfahl (24-8) came back to win 7-4 and give the Vikings an insurmountable lead.
Holmen also received a significant victory from Zeik Hellerude at 152. Hellerude seemed to be out of sync early in the match, but he dominated the third period before winning 8-2.
“We had some chances there, but we couldn’t take advantage of them,” Larsen said. “That’s how it goes.”
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