Sports

Wed
30
Aug
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Boys soccer team has high hopes

Middleton’s boys soccer program had a 2016 season to remember.

The Cardinals reached the WIAA Division 1 state tournament for the first time since 2011. Middleton knocked off Big Eight Conference co-champs Madison East and Sun Prairie on its way to state.

And the Cardinals finished the year with an impressive 16-3-2 record.

Now comes the hard part.

Sustaining what was achieved.

“This year we need to prove our staying power as a soccer program,” Middleton coach Ben Kollasch said. “Our effort will need to be team driven and not based on any one player's individual talent.

“Our tactics have to change to a more aggressive style to produce the same results. We have a tactical plan to get back to the (state) tourney given this year's set of players. We need all 11 players executing that plan to make it work.”

Wed
30
Aug
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Boys XC team thinking big

Middleton’s boys cross country team has been on a remarkably impressive upward trend in recent seasons.

And the Cardinals’ ascent could very well continue in 2017.

Middleton finished 15th at the WIAA Division 1 state meet in 2013, then has been sixth, fourth and third in the three years since.

Now, with a gifted group of returnees and a number of talented newcomers, this could be the year Middleton breaks through and pushes for a state championship.

“I think we can replicate third place or better this year,” said Middleton coach Brian Finnel, whose team opens its season Saturday at the Verona Invite. “Placing third last year made the returners very hungry and they really want to get on that podium.

Wed
30
Aug
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HTL team two wins from a title

The Chicago Cubs had Jake Arietta.

The San Francisco Giants had Madison Bumgarner.

And on a smaller scale, Middleton’s Home Talent League team has Drew Farrell.

Look out below.

In the first round of the HTL playoffs Sunday, Farrell threw 8 1/3 innings of no-hit ball against host Montello. Pinch hitter Craig Madson broke up the no-hitter, but Farrell went the distance and led Middleton to a 7-0 win.

Farrell finished with seven strikeouts, allowed two hits and walked two.

“Farrell was a force on the mound today,” Middleton manager Brandon Hellenbrand said. “He dominated right from the start and never gave in.”

Middleton (18-2) now travels to Stoughton Sunday at 1 p.m., and the winner of that game will be in the driver’s seat for the HTL championship. Stoughton cruised to a 9-3 win over Dodgeville in the other first round game.

Tue
29
Aug
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Sun Prairie rolls past Middleton

SUN PRAIRIE — Middleton's football team found out the hard way it has a lot to learn.

Loaded with talent, but sorely lacking in varsity experience, the Cardinals came up on the short end of a 34-6 Big Eight Conference game to Sun Prairie at Ashley Field last Friday night.

Middleton, which entered the season with nine new starters on defense and an entirely new starting offensive line, faced one of the league's more experienced teams in Sun Prairie with 12 returning starters.

“It was just one of those nights where it's tough and I think our inexperience showed tonight,” Middleton coach Tim Simon said. “That's not an excuse, but over half their team are returning starters, and for us, I think we had four or five returning starters and that showed. One team had a little bit more savvy out there than the other team.”

Wed
23
Aug
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Girls swimmers gunning for repeat

Nearly 10 months after the most memorable girls swimming season in Middleton history came to a close, Lauren Cabalka still gets goose bumps.

Cabalka, the Cardinals’ head coach and a former standout in the program, guided Middleton to its first-ever WIAA Division 1 state title last November.

Now, even as Middleton prepares to begin its new season Friday at Sun Prairie at 5 p.m., the memories of 2016 aren't far away. They provide joy, laughter and a model for how to become a champion.

“I don't think you can put a season like that into words,” Cabalka said. “When I look back, I think about how special it really was and how incredibly difficult it is to remain unbeaten in a conference like ours as well as throughout the state. 

Wed
23
Aug
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Middleton's girls spikers aiming high

Franco Marcos wasn’t shy.

He rarely is.

But Middleton girls volleyball coach feels better about the 2017 Cardinals than he has about a team in quite some time. And he doesn’t care who knows it.

So when Marcos was discussing the upcoming season, he didn't hide from expectations. Instead, he simply raised them.

“We are the team to beat,” Marcos said when asked about the Big Eight Conference.

Middleton hasn’t been the team to beat for a few years now. The Cardinals have been a solid, consistent program, but they also haven’t been to a WIAA Division 1 state tournament since 2009.

Marcos believes that drought could come to an end this fall.

“Oh my God, has it been that long?” Marcos said of Middleton’s state tournament drought. “How time flies! It is very realistic and I know that the girls are also hungry for the trip to state.”

Why the optimism?

Wed
23
Aug
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Middleton's HTL team storms to Final Four

The Middleton 29ers had one more hurdle to clear on Sunday if they wanted their fantastic season to continue: the hot-hitting Reedsburg Pirates.

Reedsburg, which features six players in their every-week lineup batting above .300, hit .322 as a team this season. That was sixth-best out of 44 Home Talent League teams.   

Unfortunately for Reedsburg, it had to face Middleton's offense, which ranked No. 1 in the league. Oh, and they had to face Drew Farrell.  

Middleton used a brilliant pitching performance from Farrell, had some timely hitting and tamed visiting Reedsburg, 7-1, to capture the Northern League Championship for the first time since 2013.

Middleton reserved a spot in the HTL Final Four, which begins Sunday. The 29ers open HTL play by traveling to Montello for a 1 p.m. game.

Stoughton and Dodgeville also qualified for the Final Four. The four teams all play each other in a round robin tournament over the next three weeks.

Wed
23
Aug
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Girls golfers keep rolling

There was uncertainty, unknowns and unpredictability.

Those days are over.

Today, Middleton’s girls golf team has answered any and all questions that surrounded it when the year began.

Middleton went to the Brookfield Central-Homestead Classic last week and finished third at the star-studded, 19-team event.

The Cardinals then won a pair of Big Eight Conference triangulars and began the year 4-0 in the league.

“I'd say the girls have met and exceeded our expectations for the start of the season,” Middleton coach Becky Halverson said.

Defending state champion Hartland Arrowhead won the BC-H Classic with a 625. Brookfield Central was second at 646, while Middleton (656), Homestead (660) and Kettle Moraine (661) rounded out the top five.

Middleton shot a 320 on the first day of the tournament played at Mee-Kwon in Mequon. That was good for second place, just four shots back of Arrowhead.

Tue
22
Aug
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Football Cardinals rout Memorial

Tim Simon was nervous.

But for anyone that knows Simon — Middleton’s 14th year football coach — that’s simply par for the course.

“I’m always nervous on gameday,” Simon said. “People give me (nonsense) in the hallways. But really everything worries me.”

It’s a good thing Simon has a football team plenty capable of calming his nerves.

In Middleton’s season-opener against Madison Memorial last Friday, the Cardinals dominated from start to finish. Middleton built a commanding 29-0 halftime lead and rolled to a 36-7 win.

Senior running backs Dion Huff and James Pabst both had a pair of touchdown runs, senior quarterback Davis Roquet was a model of consistency, and the Cardinals’ defense was largely impenetrable when the game was being decided.

“We played together as one tonight,” Middleton senior defensive back Cole Ragsdale said. “And it was awesome.”

Mon
14
Aug
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Injuries mount for Middleton's football team

If it wasn’t for bad luck, it doesn’t appear Middleton’s football team would have any luck whatsoever.

The 2017 season hasn’t even arrived, and Middleton has already lost four players expected to play vital roles.

During last Friday’s scrimmage with Watertown and Mount Horeb/Barneveld, the Cardinals lost two players with potential season-ending injuries.

Senior wideout Brogan Brunker suffered broken bones in his hand and stands a slim chance to return late in the year. Junior right guard Dylan Kalscheur suffered a torn ACL and will miss the entire season.

Earlier this summer, junior Max Schlicht — a likely starter at tight end — suffered a torn ACL while playing basketball that ended his year before it even began. And during the first week of practice, senior left tackle Jarrett Horst suffered a Jones fracture in his foot and will likely miss most of the regular season.

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