Middleton's top girls' performances of 2018-'19

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s girls swimming team received the Times-Tribune’s ‘Team of the Year’ honors./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

It was another sensational year for the sports teams at Middleton High School, where the Cardinals remained a model of consistency both in the Big Eight Conference and across the state.

Of course, some achievements rank as the best of the best. Here’s one person’s opinion of that list.

Last week we handed out the boys’ awards. This week we recognize the top girls.

Team of the year: Swimming

Middleton’s run of greatness continues to grow.

The Cardinals won their third consecutive WIAA Division 1 state swimming and diving championship last November.

Middleton finished with 249.50 points – 61.5 points ahead of second-place Cedarburg with 188. Sun Prairie finished third with 170 points and Verona /Mount Horeb took fourth with 169 points.

“They’re such a good group of girls and watching them come together and the atmosphere back here,” Middleton coach Lauren Cabalka said. “The swimming was great, but the atmosphere that they created, that’s what won the meet for us and I couldn’t be more proud.”

There was a lot to be proud of.

Senior Hannah Aegerter won the 500 freestyle in 4 minutes, 55.48 seconds. Aegerter trailed Abby Carlson of Waukesha South/Mukwonago throughout the race, but passed her over the final 50 yards and cruised to victory. Aegerter wasn’t able to compete in the 500 last year after withdrawing from the sectional meet to receive medical attention.

“It’s amazing, it’s so surreal,” Aegerter said. “I’ve never won an individual at this meet. Just to do that on my last individual I was really motivated to get through that swim. During it and before it I was like I want to go out on the best note that I can for my team and for myself. That’s what really kept me going and chugging along.”

Senior Makenna Licking added a third-place finish in the 500 in 5:03.09.

“Having all of the really fast swimmers next to you just feels so good because they’re all so good and you can really build off of them,” Licking said.

The relay team of Gabriela Pierobon Mays, Berkley Smith, Aegerter and Licking then captured the 200 freestyle relay in 1:34.

“The 500, me and Makenna going 1, 3 that helped us a lot and then leading into the win in the (200 freestyle) relay,” Aegerter said. “I think that’s where we took off and we knew we just had to finish out the backstroke and the breaststroke and we were going to be good.”

Aegerter was also second in the 200 freestyle in 1:52.36 and was also part of the second place 200 medley relay team with Pierobon Mays, sophomore Ally Silvestri and Smith in 1:44.08.

Cabalka said Aegerter, who has verbally committed to swim at the University of Illinois, stepped things up at sectionals.

“I’m so happy for her,” Cabalka said of Aegerter. “She overcame a lot to be on this stage again after what happened last year and not knowing. That’s a huge emotional battle that you have to fight. She really battled it all year and then last week at sectionals all the sudden she came out guns a blazing like, ‘I’m going to do this, I can do it.’ That confidence was back, she got over that hump and then watching her swim today that was special. It was really fun.”

Silvestri earned a runner-up finish in the 100 breaststroke in 1:02.41 behind only Verona/Mount Horeb’s Grace Bennin, who set a new state record in the event in 1:00.65. Teammate junior Alex Anagnostopoulos added a fourth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.35.

Silvestri was also fourth in the 200 individual medley in 2:05.29, followed by Anagnostopoulos (14th in 2:08.34) and sophomore Madelyn Lawn (19th in 2:10.17).

Pierobon Mays, Smith, Emily Keebler and Licking all earned individual podium finishes while swimming in the second heats of their events. Pierobon Mays did it twice earning fourth-place finishes in the 100 butterfly in 55.28 and 100 backstroke in 55.78. She had won the 100 butterfly state title the past two seasons and was happy to contribute while still recovering from shoulder surgery in late February to repair a torn labrum.

“I won state last year in the 100 fly and I was seeded 10th (this year) and that really got to me mentally,” Pierobon Mays said. “So I was like, ‘what’s the plan going in to state? But then we came in on Monday afternoon and no one was defeated, no one felt like they had already lost, so I was like, ‘I’ve got to do this for my team.’ I’ve got to get some points for my team so I realized that, even if I don’t achieve my ultimate goal of winning again, but I still move up and I still get points for my team, that’s all that I care about.”

Licking finished fifth in the 200 freestyle in 1:53.22, Keebler placed sixth in the 200 individual medley in 2:05.67 and Smith took sixth in the 50 freestyle in 24.10.

Of the three state titles, Cabalka said this one may have been the most challenging.

“Every year is different, every year feels different,” Cabalka said. “This one I think was certainly the biggest challenge. There was a lot of newness this year. This team really didn’t look that much different than our team last year, but all of the things we went through at the end of the season and the lineup that we put forward here, it was different.”

Honorable mention: Golf (second at state), basketball (second at state).

 

Coach of the year: Jeff Kind, basketball

Middleton girls basketball coach Jeff Kind was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame last September.

Then, Kind had a Hall of Fame type of season and led the Cardinals to a runner-up finish at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament.

Middleton fell to Bay Port, 50-49, in a thrilling state title game. The Cardinals, who were making their 11th trip to state under Kind, brought home the runner-up trophy for a fourth time.

“I don’t know if I’d call it frustrating,” Middleton senior point guard Charlotte Dunn said. “More or less just heartbreaking. We really gave it our all, but it really was a great game and a great year.”

They sure did.

The Cardinals went 22-6 overall, won the Big Eight Conference and had a 14-game winning streak before losing to Bay Port. And a year like that seemed fitting after Kind was inducted into the Hall of Fame just a few months earlier.

Kind also led Middleton to runner-up finishes at state in 1993, 2003 and 2011. And when news of his Hall of Fame induction broke, his former players were ecstatic.

“Playing for coach Kind was not only a great honor, but also just a great experience,” said Elizabeth Norregaard, a 2015 Middleton High School graduate. “The way he treated his players, how he ran practice and the whole structure around the program made him feel like much more than just a coach. Being named to the Wisconsin Coaches Hall of Fame is extremely well deserved!”

Liz McMahon, a three-year standout and a 2014 MHS graduate, agreed with Norregaard.

“Looking back on my three years playing for coach Kind, I can say he is one of the smartest coaches around,” McMahon said. “He does a great job working with each team and each player, helping us all to improve and play at our highest level.

“He puts so much time and energy into every season, and he truly cares about every player. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to play for such a driven, smart, and caring coach. He really is one of the best.”

Madeline Staples was an honorable-mention all-state player during her senior season of 2012. Staples was thrilled when she heard the news about Kind, and fondly recalled a unique teaching practice her former head coach employed.

“I remember at the start of every practice he would share a quote or a story that we would write down in a journal he provided to help us get ready for that practice, but it also expanded our knowledge of the game and taught us life lessons outside the game,” Staples said of Kind. “I still have all four of my journals from my high school career. 

“Coach Kind always motivated me to be my best self on and off the court. I will always remember the intensity and energy he brought to practice to help us get better.”

Alexis Thomas, a Cardinals standout from 2014-'17, felt an award like this was long overdue.

"It's about time he receives an award like this," said Thomas, who now golfs collegiately for North Dakota State. "Playing for him was definitely a blessing. He always pushed me to my full potential and never gave up on me.

"Win or lose he always had a positive attitude and that certainly played a role in our success over the years. Not only did he coach me in basketball, but in life, too, and that really stands out."

Kind’s teams have always stood out. The 2018-’19 season was no different.

Honorable mention: Lauren Cabalka (swimming), Becky Halverson (golf)

 

Performance of the year: Karsen Dettman/Maddie Clark finish second at state tennis

Maddie Clark had four different doubles partners during her stellar tennis career at Middleton High School. Each one brought something different to the table, and Clark experienced an impressive level of success with all of her partners.

But Clark found the perfect fit in 2018.

Despite never having played together, Clark was paired with Karsen Dettman last fall. The two then proceeded to take the state by storm.

At the WIAA Division 1 state tournament held at Nielsen Tennis Stadium last October, Clark and Dettman surged to the finals. There, Nicolet seniors Annabelle Crowley and Emma Koppa toppled Clark and Dettman, 6-3, 6-2, in the championship match.

But Middleton’s dynamic duo left the state tournament extremely happy with how their weekend — and their first year together — went.

“This was our first season playing together, and I was amazed with how well we gelled and worked together to get to the finals,” Clark said. “Our passion for tennis and chemistry on and off the court helped us to get to where we ended up. We played so well this season and had a lot of tough competition so I'm happy that we earned the title of state runner-up.”

Dettman echoed Clark’s sentiments.

“I am very happy with second,” Dettman said. “We played well together throughout the tournament and the season and had many challenging matches. I also think Nicolet was a great competitor in the finals because they have been a very competitive team throughout the season.”

Clark and Dettman — who earned the tournament’s No. 1 seed — had an impressive ride to the finals.

After an opening round bye on Thursday, the Cardinals’ duo posted a pair of exciting wins Friday.

First, Dettman and Clark downed Jenna Tackmier and Anna Ziech of Green Bay Southwest, 6-2, 6-3. Middleton’s twosome then rolled past Cedarburg’s Hailey Haws and Willow Larson, 6-0, 6-1.

In the quarterfinals Friday night, though, things got much tougher.

Clark and Dettman dropped the first set, 7-5, to Homestead’s Bridget Brown and Kate Wade. But Clark and Dettman rallied to win the final two sets, 6-1, 6-4.

“In the first set, we seemed to struggle with playing our game, coming to the net and closing points,” Dettman said. “However, in the second set we began to realize that getting tight to the net led to the most success, which helped us in winning the second and third set. They were both great competitors with good hands which made it especially important to place our shots wisely.”

That win vaulted Dettman and Clark into the semifinals, where they rolled by 12th-seeded Allyson Verbauwhede and Kendra Peterson of Manitowoc Lincoln. By all accounts, Clark and Dettman played one of their better matches of the year to reach the finals.

“Our confidence in the semifinal match Saturday morning definitely helped us win,” Clark said. “We were determined to get to the finals. We had never played Manitowoc Lincoln before so we didn't know what to expect. We started and ended the match aggressively, and our serves were one of our strengths. We had a plan for how we were going to play, and we executed the plan well.”

Unfortunately for Middleton’s terrific twosome, the success ended there.

Crowley and Koppa played a sensational match in the finals and toppled Clark and Dettman.

“I think it was a mixture of them being on their ‘A’ game and us playing a bit tentative at times,” Dettman said. “We came out hoping to take control of the net, but they seemed to gain that control early on, and by the time we started to play more aggressively, it was just a little too late. They are both great doubles players and work well together, and were definitely playing their best tennis.”

Overall, Dettman and Clark agreed their weekend at state — and really their entire season — couldn’t have gone much better.

“This was such a memorable season for so many reasons,” Clark said. “Making the podium was one of my goals since freshman year and I'm so glad I got to accomplish that.

“After four years of going to state, I'm happy that we made it to the finals. I was really fortunate to have Karsen as a partner because she is so hardworking and determined. I can't wait to see what she does in the future because I know it will be incredible.”

Honorable mention: Hannah Aegerter (swimming)

 

Senior athlete of the year: Hannah Flottmeyer (volleyball/basketball)

Flottmeyer excelled on both the volleyball and basketball courts.

Flottmeyer received first-team all-Big Eight Conference honors in volleyball.

There, Flottmeyer led Middleton and the entire Big Eight Conference with 95 blocks. Flottmeyer was also second on the team and ninth in the league in kills (176).

“She is a quick learner and will do great things as the next level,” Marcos said of Flottmeyer. “We wish her all the best! She was a very coachable player.”

Flottmeyer was also named second-team all-conference in basketball after helping the Cardinals reach the state finals.

Flottmeyer, a 6-foot post, was second on the Cardinals in scoring (10.6) and rebounding (6.5). Flottmeyer shot 48.9% from the field and was also fifth on the team in assists (1.2).

“Hannah played with leadership, maturity and urgency you would expect from a senior,” Kind said. “She put us over the top in several close games. It was a well-deserved honor for her.”

Honorable mention: Hannah Aegerter (swimming)

 

Breakthrough athlete of the year: Lauren Pansegrau, cross country/track

Lauren Pansegrau had a sensational freshman year for Middleton’s girls’ cross country team. And Pansegrau capped her big season with a 31st place finish at the WIAA Division 1 state meet held at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

Madison West freshman Genevieve Nashold won the race in 18 minutes, 10.0 seconds. Pansegrau finished the 5,000-meter course in 19:25.6.

“This girl is a talented, hardworking young lady with a bright future to look forward to,” Middleton coach Alexa Richardson said. “Thirty first place in the whole state as a freshman is almost unheard of and I’m extremely proud of all Lauren accomplished this season.”

Pansegrau accomplished even more during the track and field season, where she finished second at state in the 3,200-meter run.

Pansegrau ran a strategically savvy race finishing in a personal-best time of 10 minutes, 47.81 seconds. She trailed only Onalaska sophomore Kora Malecek, a triplet whose sisters also competed in the meet, who was first in 10:36.25.

“I’m really happy,” Pansegrau said. “It was a fun race. I tried not to stay too far behind (the leader) and run with the pack around me. I just tried to stay with a steady pace,” she said. “I wanted to run my pace and not get too far behind but not go out super-fast.”

Middleton coach Cory Christnovich was thrilled with Pansegrau’s performance.

“It was pretty amazing,” Christnovich said. “She had an eight-second PR today. That was great. She ran a real smart race. Some of the other girls went out hard the first couple of laps. She fell into her pace nicely.

“Then those early leaders fell off of their pace and she started to move up. The last three laps, you could tell she was really determined, and she performed well. She ran a heck of a race. Second-place is quite an accomplishment for a freshman.”

Honorable mention: Glenna Sanderson (golf), Ellie Frisch (golf)

 

Game of the year: Middleton upsets Mukwonago in girls basketball state semifinals

Mukwonago was the No. 1 ranked team in the state. The Indians had lost just once all year and were consensus favorites to win the WIAA Division 1 state basketball title.

Middleton had other ideas.

In a state semifinal game held at the Resch Center in Green Bay, the Cardinals toppled the Indians, 62-53. Middleton used a stunning 12-0 second half run to help KO Mukwonago.

“That was a very good team and all week long, looking at film and watching the tape, we knew what an exceptionally talented team they were,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said of the Indians. “The girls really believed in what we were doing and just played a heck of a game defensively and handled the pressure very well offensively. They went out and earned everything they got.”

Middleton junior guard Evie Coleman had the night of her life, draining 5-of-9 three-pointers, scoring a career-high 19 points, and draining 11 straight points for the Cardinals during one stretch of the second half.

Coleman’s remarkable performance highlighted a night in which the Cardinals made 9-of-15 three pointers (60.0%). Middleton entered the game shooting just 26.0% from beyond the arc during the regular season.

“Honestly, I had no idea what to expect coming into this game,” Coleman said. “And honestly, now that It’s over, I don’t remember a lot of it. But I definitely tried my best and I did everything I could to get us that win and I’m so happy it happened.”

Hannah Flottmeyer had 11 of her 14 points in the first half, as Middleton jumped to a 30-27 lead at the break and gained the necessary confidence that it could pull off an upset. Junior forward Sitori Tanin added 10 points and 10 rebounds, senior point guard Charlotte Dunn played a magnificent floor game and had six assists, junior forward Karina Bursac had eight points and seven rebounds, while junior guard Josie Lemirande drilled both of her three-pointers and finished with six points.

Middleton advanced to the state championship game, where it dropped a heartbreaking 50-49 decision to Bay Port. But the Cardinals’ win over Mukwonago was unforgettable.

Middleton had done almost everything right in taking a 50-41 with 8:07 remaining. Then the Cardinals went scoreless for 3 ½ minutes — a stretch of six possessions without a point — and Mukwonago forged a 50-50 tie.

“I thought during that little stretch … we were being a little lackadaisical with the ball,” Kind said. “We were throwing lob passes instead of throwing sharp passes and we just kind of refocused and said, ‘Let’s make sure we’re doing some pass fakes and making some straight line passes instead of lob passes.’ ”

The Cardinals did exactly that.

First, Tanin aggressively attacked the rim and rebounded her own missed shot. Tanin then drew a foul, and the 42.9% free throw shooter calmly drained a pair of free throws to give Middleton a 52-50 lead with 4:19 remaining.

Mukwonago’s Dru Henning traveled, then Flottmeyer made 1-of-2 free throws. Bursac stole the ball from Henning, went the other way, drew a foul and made 1-of-2 free throws to extend the Cardinals’ lead to 54-50.

Mukwonago turned the ball over on its next two possessions, as well, making it four straight turnovers. After one, Coleman drilled a pair of free throws. Then Tanin buried a 15-footer and suddenly Middleton’s lead was 58-50 with 1:25 remaining.

“Obviously not our best game. It didn’t go our way tonight,” Mukwonago coach Rick Kolinske said. “Sometimes the shots just don’t fall. Sometimes they don’t fall your way. And unfortunately, it wasn’t our night. It wasn’t our best game of the year.”

The Cardinals’ run wasn’t done.

Mukwonago came up empty on its next three possessions, as well. Bursac made the Indians pay by hitting 3-of-4 free throws and Tanin added another foul shot.

Amazingly, Middleton held Mukwonago scoreless for 4:16 during that run and the Cardinals knocked down 10-of-14 free throws (71.4%).

“That stretch was amazing,” Coleman said.

And it vaulted the Cardinals into the state championship game.

“It was going to take an outstanding effort on our part and I think one of the things I’m most proud about of these girls is they find a way to win,” Kind said. “And we’ve had some stretches where we’ve been down double digits and we’ve come back and won the game. Somehow they find an extra gear and find a way to win. So they’re very resilient and I’m just extremely proud of how they played tonight.”

 

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