Middleton wins All-Big Eight Sports Award

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MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Jake Cain helped Middleton's wrestlers win the Big Eight Conference wrestling tournament last season./File photo


It happens three times every year.

After the fall, winter and spring sports seasons end, several coaches at Middleton High School gather. Then they try to do the math and figure out where they stand in the race for the All-Big Eight Conference Sports Award.

“I know for many of the MHS coaches it means a lot,” Middleton football coach Tim Simon said. “It is something many of the coaches talk about often.”

More often than not, those are extremely happy talks. And this year was no different.

Middleton continued to set the gold standard in the Big Eight and won the All-Sports Award for the 17th time in its 19 years in the league. The Cardinals were second the other two times.

Schools are given one point if they finish first in a sport, two for second, etc., meaning low scores are desired.

Middleton finished with an average of 2.41 per sport, while Verona was second (3.93) and Sun Prairie was third (4.02). Madison Memorial was fourth (4.32), followed by Madison West (4.77), Janesville Craig (5.76), Madison La Follette (5.96), Janesville Parker (7.41), Beloit Memorial (7.86) and Madison East (7.96).

“I’ve been a head coach in three different high schools and what clearly sets Middleton apart is the level of support from our athletic department leadership as well as their commitment to all sports,” Middleton boys basketball coach Kevin Bavery said. “The excellence among coaching staffs and student-athlete commitment across all sports, boys and girls, is extreme. 

“All anyone has to do is stop in almost any summer morning to see the amount of opportunities and the number of student-athletes putting in tremendous ‘sweat equity’ for both their overall physical development, as well as commitment to their teams and their own individual skill development. Simply put, we have great kids to work with, supportive parents and colleagues, and a great leader pulling it all together in (athletic director) Bob Joers.” 

Girls volleyball coach Franco Marcos agreed.

“It is a great feeling and honor to be a part of Middleton High School athletic program and contributing towards the all-Big Eight sport award,” Marcos said. “We are constantly striving to improve all our programs and we are getting great support from the parents, administration, community and Booster Club. It is another great day to be a Cardinal — Middleton Cardinal that is.”

Middleton competes in 22 sports and earned a first place finish in eight of those — boys soccer, boys volleyball, girls swimming, girls tennis, girls gymnastics, wrestling, boys tennis and boys track and field.

The Cardinals were second in girls volleyball, girls cross country, girls golf, boys hockey, baseball, and girls track and field. The Cardinals were third in boys basketball, boys swimming, boys golf and girls soccer.

That means Middleton had a remarkable top-three finish in 18 of the conference’s 22 sports (81.8%). Middleton also had just one sport finish outside the conference’s upper half.

In sports where a conference tournament is held, the results of that event are paired with regular season results for one final set of standings.

“I think there is an overall sense of pride in winning the all- sports trophy consistently,” Middleton girls basketball coach Jeff Kind said. “I think that there are schools throughout the state that are recognized as outstanding programs in specific sports, but there are just a handful who excel across the whole spectrum of sports. I think Middleton falls into that elite few and each year the Big Eight All-Sports Trophy helps validate that.”

Middleton coaches all spoke of the Joers’ leadership as a major reason they’re staying ahead of the conference. They talked of a parental base that’s extremely involved, a second-to-none Booster Club, and terrific youth programs throughout the community.

But it goes beyond that.

The athletes buy into the Middleton tradition and want to do their part to add to that. And the coaches are dedicated, passionate and working endlessly to keep their teams at the top.

“It is a big deal because the athletes and coaches at Middleton put a lot of sweat equity into the programs, but it also shows the value of a couple other things,” boys hockey coach Steve Libert said. “The administration supports athletics and I like to believe it is because of the understanding that sports and other activities are co-curricular, not extra-curricular. Activities are an important part of the development process for future members of society.”

Middleton also introduced a strength and conditioning program in the past year — one run by Brad Rogeberg and Steve Myrland — that has paid enormous dividends.

Rogeberg and Myrland help athletes from all sports train outside their seasons to become better all-around athletes.

“Now, more than ever, we're collaborating among sports,” Middleton boys track and field coach Isaac Mezera said. “With a strength and conditioning program that caters to all sports, an emphasis on multi-sport athletes, and enough variety of sports for every student at MHS, I can imagine our sports award streak continuing.”

Boys volleyball coach Ben White agreed.

“With the implementation of the strength and conditioning program you get student-athletes from all sports working to becoming the best all-around athletes they can be,” White said. “Coaches from completely different sports and backgrounds get to work together and help these student-athletes throughout the year and it is a great bonding experience when everyone buys into the program. 

“If we keep heading in this direction as a program, we are only going to get stronger and not only be dominant at the conference level, but hopefully the state level, as well.”

That seems to be the natural next step for Middleton.

For now, though, everyone around the athletic department was giddy to stay on top again.

“It is extremely rewarding to know that the Middleton athletes and coaches have earned this honor,” girls track and field coach Tara Franklin said. “We do seem to have some incredibly gifted groups of athletes that are involved in our athletic program and some terrific coaches that help bring out the best in their programs.

“The togetherness that we have as an entire program is something that is difficult to have with such a large school. But I truly feel we have something special at Middleton. It starts from the top with Bob Joers all the way down to the managers of the individual teams and everything in between.”


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