March 2016

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MTT News's picture

Softball Cardinals aiming high

Perry Hibner understands he’s not re-inventing the wheel.

Things have been awfully good inside Middleton’s girls softball program for more than three decades now. From the late, great Russ Shaub to Cherie Hellenbrand — and after a few hiccups, back to Hellenbrand again — the Cardinals have been a force.

So Hibner — set to begin his first season as Middleton’s head coach — won’t tinker and toy a whole lot. In fact, when the Cardinals begin their 2016 season on Tuesday at Madison East, it will be business as usual.

“We’ve made some slight tweaks, but I’ve never understood why a coach would come into a successful program and start changing everything,” said Hibner, who was an assistant coach under Hellenbrand last year. “Cherie and her staff, which I was fortunate to be a part of last year, did a great job of teaching, pushing and challenging the girls to get better every day.”

And Middleton most certainly did that under Hellenbrand.

Wed
30
Mar
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Baseball Cardinals look to rebound

Surprised. Startled. Stunned.

But far from staggered.

Middleton’s baseball team was admittedly shocked a year ago when it went just 10-16 overall and plummeted to eighth place in the Big Eight Conference at 7-11.

But the Cardinals are optimistic that 2016 will be different. Much different.

Middleton returns the overwhelming majority of its team from a year ago. And Cardinals veteran manager Tom Schmitt believes his group is ready for a bounce back season.

“Our kids have gotten stronger and have become a closer group,” said Schmitt, whose team begins its season Thursday by hosting Monona Grove at 4:30 p.m. “They bring a determined attitude to get back on top. They have accepted the challenge and have set goals and a vision of how to get there. 

Mon
28
Mar
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Don Johnson to Retire

The world was a very different place in 2007.

George W. Bush was still president of the United States. Jim Doyle was the governor of Wisconsin. A little social networking service called “Twitter” had just been launched. Donald Trump was merely a reality TV star.

And here in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, a man named Don Johnson was starting his new job as superintendent.

Now, after a wild ride that included a litany of ups and downs, that soft spoken but unflappable man has announced that after nine years as the top administrator, he plans to retire this summer.

Wed
23
Mar
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Girls track team excited for new era

When it comes to filling shoes, Cory Christnovich understands he’s jumping into a pair of size 15’s. And that’s just the way he prefers it.

Christnovich is the new head coach of Middleton’s girls track and field program. Christnovich takes over for Tara Franklin, who had sensational 20-year run as the Cardinals’ boss.

But Christnovich would much rather run a program with a history of tradition and success instead of one that possesses none of those traits.

“I am very excited to take over as the girls head coach,” Christnovich said. “The program has a culture of success and it is fun to be around athletes that want to work hard in practice day in and day out to keep up that success. 

Wed
23
Mar
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Boys track has new coach, same goals

The leadership at the top has changed.

But the goals, expectations and talent base remain the same.

Middleton’s boys track and field team has a new head coach, with former assistant Joe Line taking over the program. But a Cardinals’ outfit that has been trending upwards for years figures to be terrific again in 2016.

“I am excited about taking over such an accomplished program,” said Line, whose team began its season last Saturday at the UW-Whitewater Invite. “The program was left to me with great traditions and goals, and I plan on continuing and adding to the successes of the boys track and field program.”

Line, a 1999 graduate of Monroe High School, was a standout with the Cheesemakers where he competed in jumping events and also ran the 4x100 and the 4x400. Line competed at UW-Whitewater for one year, but stepped away following a leg injury.

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Great expectations await

Unfinished business.

If Middleton’s boys basketball team is looking for a theme for the 2016-’17 season, that would seem appropriate.

The Cardinals enjoyed one of their best seasons in years. Middleton went 19-5 overall, won a share of its first Big Eight Conference title in 15 years, and climbed as high as No. 2 in the state polls.

But after a 14-0 start, Middleton lost five of its final 10 games. The Cardinals had a chance to win the Big Eight’s outright title, but lost a home game to Janesville Craig on the final night of the regular season.

Then Middleton, a No. 2 seed, lost a home game to seventh-seeded Madison West in the regional finals.

Yes, the Cardinals accomplished many great things in 2015-’16. But there’s also a lot they left on the table.

“What might have been kept it from being fulfilling,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said of the season. “It will undoubtedly fuel our preparation for 2016-17.”

Wed
16
Mar
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Lemirande, Thomas honored

Middleton junior guard Bria Lemirande was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference, while junior guard Alexia Thomas was named second-team all-league.

The Cardinals tied for first place in the league at 17-1 with eventual WIAA Division 1 state champion Verona.

Lemirande led the Cardinals in scoring (14.7)  highlighted by a 37-point outing at Janesville Craig. Lemirande also led Middleton in assists (4.7), steals (2.8), and rebounds (6.8). Lemirande was also named honorable-mention all-state.

“Bria was very deserving of her first team selection,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “She was one of the dominant players in the league and there was a great deal of individual talent spread throughout the league this year. 

“She should be in the mix for player of the year in the conference next year and will likely become the school’s second leading scorer all-time.” 

Wed
16
Mar
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Bunz named Player of the Year

Middleton defenseman Davis Bunz was named the Big Eight Conference’s Player of the Year. Five other Cardinals also received all-conference honors.

Sophomore forward Justin Engelkes and Bunz were both named first-team all-league.

Senior forward Casey Harper and senior defenseman Jake Livesy were both named second-team all-conference. And senior forward Jordan Hylbert and senior defenseman Braxton Walby were both named honorable-mention all-conference.

Bunz led Middleton in goals (18), total points (41) and points per game (1.71). Engelkes was second in points (36) and goals (16), third in points per game (1.50) and tied for third in assists (20).

Harper led Middleton with 24 assists, was second in points per game (1.55) and third in total points (34). Livesy tied for fifth in assists (18), added three goals and was a defensive stalwart all season long.

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