The 2017 WIAA Division 1 state wrestling championships had just ended. And already, Middleton standout sophomore Kevin Meicher was looking forward, not back.
Meicher, who won a state championship as a freshman, couldn’t pull off a repeat Saturday night at the UW Kohl Center.
Meicher reached the state finals at 138 pounds, but dropped a 4-0 decision to Sun Prairie’s Drew Scharenbrock. Afterwards, Meicher was already plotting how to turn the loss into a positive.
“I think of this as motivation for next year and the year after that and trying to win two more (state titles),” Meicher said.
Meicher and Scharenbrock — rivals in the Big Eight Conference — had met twice during the regular season, with Scharenbrock winning both matches. Scharenbrock then took control of the championship match with a first period takedown and never let Meicher get anything going.
They are the players they work so hard and give such terrific effort that they eventually pull on their jerseys to get a quick break.
Right now, Bavery doesn’t believe his Middleton boys basketball team has enough of those.
“We need a lot more jersey tuggers than we have,” Bavery said. “If we’re going to go anywhere in the next three weeks, we need to work a lot harder.”
Bavery was irate following Middleton’s 67-66 overtime loss to Beloit Memorial last Friday. Purple Knights senior Jequan Pegeese drilled three-pointer from the elbow at the buzzer for the win.
Middleton, which entered the game with a mathematical chance to tie for the Big Eight Conference title, fell to 16-5 overall and 12-5 in the league. That left the Cardinals two games behind conference co-leaders Sun Prairie and Madison Memorial, who are both 18-3, 14-3.
In the past month, they’ve been overlooked, disregarded and largely forgotten about.
But Middleton’s girls basketball team delivered a loud and authoritative message last Saturday.
In defeating host Madison East, 84-82, and clinching a share of the Big Eight Conference title, the Cardinals told the basketball world, ‘We’re Still Here.’
Middleton (19-3 overall) shared the league title with Sun Prairie at 16-2. Madison East (16-5, 14-4) settled for third.
“Coach is always reminding our team to play with passion and with our hearts,” Middleton senior wing Alexis Thomas said. “And lately, after some our previous games, we kind of had a reality check and realized that we can go far and be really good if we play with those things and have a good mentality.”
Twelve months ago, Middleton’s boys basketball team went to Verona with a perfect 14-0 record.
The Wildcats stunned the Cardinals that night, and sent Middleton into a spiral to finish the year.
The Cardinals made sure history wouldn’t repeat itself in 2017.
Middleton went to Verona last Friday and routed the host Wildcats, 95-73. Senior forward Tyree Eady led four Cardinals in double figures with 28 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Senior guard Storm Murphy added 14 points, four assists and three steals, while senior wing Myron Ashford Jr. and junior forward Brogan Brunker both added 10 points. Senior guard C.J. Fermanich added eight points, five rebounds and four assists, while seniors Jack Smith and Ben Jackson both had five rebounds.
Middleton’s hockey team received the No. 3 seed in its sectional. But few teams anywhere are playing as well as the Cardinals.
Middleton won a pair of games last week and pushed its winning streak to five games. The Cardinals defeated Cedarburg, 8-1, last Tuesday and toppled Beloit Memorial, 3-2, last Friday.
Middleton improved to 13-7 overall and is 7-5 in the Big Eight Conference.
“The overall buzz is pretty good,” Middleton coach Steffon Walby said of his team. “The team is starting to gel and commit to each other. They are really pushing and motivating each other.”
Verona received the No. 1 seed in the sectional, while Sun Prairie, Middleton, Madison Edgewood and Madison West rounded out the top five. Oregon is seeded sixth, followed by Madison Memorial, Waunakee, Monona Grove, McFarland and Madison La Follette/East.
Most of America will be buzzing about New England’s come-from-behind win in the 51st Super Bowl for several days.
Closer to home, there was a comeback nearly as impressive 24 hours earlier.
Middleton’s girls basketball team trailed Janesville Parker, 38-17, at halftime last Saturday. But the Cardinals mounted a comeback for the ages and rallied past the host Vikings, 73-68.
“It was an impressive comeback, probably the biggest one I've ever had from a team,” said Middleton coach Jeff Kind, whose team trailed by 25 at one point in the first half. “But it's not something we want to have to replicate.
“When all is said and done, I was pleased with the way the girls responded to the challenge. That was impressive. That we got into that situation was not so impressive!”
Middleton improved to 16-2 overall and remained in a first place tie in the Big Eight Conference with Sun Prairie at 13-2.
There wasn’t a pre-game speech or a lengthy pep talk.
Middleton senior leaders Bria Lemirande, Alyssa Lemirande, Alexis Thomas and Carlee Lemirande are fully cognizant that their careers are quickly coming to a close. And this quartet wants nothing more than to exit in style.
Last Thursday, this fearsome foursome combined for 55 points and powered Middleton’s girls basketball team to a 65-57 win over host Verona in a Big Eight Conference showdown. The Cardinals, who also defeated Janesville Parker two days later, are 16-2 overall and tied with Sun Prairie for first place in the league at 13-2.
Verona (12-6, 11-3) and Madison East (14-4, 12-3) are one game back in the loss column.
Tennis has surrounded Kalla Schaefer since she was a young child.
Schaefer’s father, Lyle, is a highly successful instructor who runs his own academy today.
Schaefer’s mother, Kris, has been a tennis teacher inside Middleton’s Recreation Department.
Still, Kalla wasn’t always sure tennis was for her. In fact, from the years of 4 to 14, she barely touched a racket.
“I had little interest,” Kalla said.
That changed dramatically. And now it appears Middleton High School will be the beneficiary.
Kalla Schaefer was named Middleton’s new boys tennis coach last week. Former coach Deke Bradley informed athletic director Bob Joers via a text message that he wouldn’t return when practice begins next month.