Sports

Wed
26
Apr
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Tennis Cardinals start out strong

Middleton’s boys tennis team is off to a rip-roaring start.

The Cardinals won the Madison Memorial Invite last weekend, defeating Oshkosh West, 6-1, in the championship match on Saturday.

Middleton cruised past Sun Prairie, 6-1, in the semifinals Saturday. In Friday’s matches, the Cardinals nipped Madison Memorial and Homestead by identical 4-3 scores.

“These were our first matches of the season and a lot of teams already had four-plus matches under their belt,” Middleton coach Kalla Schaefer said. “You never know how those first couple of matches are going to go, but players came through right from the first match.”

In the title match, Middleton got singles wins from Ryan Gold at No. 2, Haiwen Dai at No. 3 and Nitin Somersanderam at No. 4.

Wed
26
Apr
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Softball team wins four of five

Last week marked an exciting one for the Hibner Family.

First, Middleton softball coach Perry Hibner watched his team win four of five games during an action packed week. Then, Hibner’s oldest son got married last Saturday.

The Cardinals defeated Madison West, 11-2, last Monday and rolled past Madison La Follette, 15-4, last Tuesday. Middleton dropped a 10-5 decision to Sun Prairie last Wednesday, but rebounded with a 12-5 win over Beloit Memorial on Thursday and an 8-3 victory over Janesville Parker on Friday.

“I was pleased that we focused on the task at hand each day and didn't look too far ahead,” Hibner said. “After all the inclement weather we've had this spring, I think the girls were just excited to be playing every day.”

Here’s a recap of the Cardinals’ week:

• Middleton 11, Madison West 2 — Senior Makenzie Kopp struck out 11 as the Cardinals beat the Regents last Monday at Jefferson Middle School. 

Wed
12
Apr
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Middleton golfers in rebuilding mode

Tom Cabalka, Middleton’s ultra-successful boys golf coach, pictured the scenario before it even took place.

Cabalka, like most golf coaches, drives his team to their meets. And Cabalka knew this year rides would be substantially different than recent seasons.

“I think I’m going to get in the Suburban and look in the rearview mirror,” Cabalka said. “And then I’m going to say, ‘Who are you guys?’ ”

That’s a fair question.

Middleton lost more firepower than any team in the state. And Cabalka can be forgiven if he begins feeling nostalgic from time to time.

Gone are the trio of Emmet Herb, Joey Levin and Brady Thomas, who left an indelible stamp on the program. That threesome played varsity four straight seasons and led Middleton to top-five finishes at state each of the past three years, including a second place finish in 2016.

Wed
12
Apr
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Tennis Cardinals thinking big

The pieces still need to be assembled.

Lineup positioning will be determined in the days ahead.

When that happens, Middleton’s boys tennis team believes big things are in store in 2017.

Middleton begins its season Tuesday at Sun Prairie. And the Cardinals have high hopes that great things await.

“This team has a strong tennis background, with players who train year-round and work on their games in the offseason,” Middleton first-year coach Kalla Schaefer said. “They are coachable and enthusiastic. My main concern right now is getting a lineup set.”

Middleton returns seven players who were part of last year’s team that reached the semifinals of the WIAA Division 1 state team tournament.

Wed
29
Mar
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Baseball Cards young, but gifted

In a perfect world, Middleton baseball manager Tom Schmitt would welcome back nine starters this spring.

He’d have a pitching staff loaded with experience, a lineup packed with proven hitters and a team jam-packed with proven commodities.

But that’s not the world Schmitt and his Cardinals live in.

Middleton will be one of the most inexperienced teams in the Big Eight Conference, and perhaps the area. But don’t expect that to discourage the Cardinals one bit.

While Middleton’s group is green, Schmitt and the Cardinals always have great expectations. And Middleton — which opened its season this week with a pair of games in Florida — will have high hopes again in 2017.

“It’s always good to have some definites,” Schmitt said. “It’s a good challenge, too. We know we might have some early bumps, but I expect to see them progress a lot this year.

Wed
29
Mar
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Boys basketball cupboard far from bare

One of the finest senior classes in school history is gone.

A group that helped produce back-to-back 19-win seasons. A class that included two all-state players in Tyree Eady and Storm Murphy and a four-year varsity contributor in C.J. Fermanich.

So, the 2017-’18 season will undoubtedly be a challenging one for Middleton’s boys basketball team, right?

Don’t tell that to Cardinals’ head coach Kevin Bavery.

“I think we’re going to be the surprise of the Big Eight,” Bavery said. “No one will expect us to be in the mix of top teams with all the players we graduate.”

Before we look ahead at a group Bavery believes will surprise, let’s take a final look on the gifted group that’s exiting the program.

Middleton finished the year 19-6 overall and was third in the Big Eight Conference at 13-5. The Cardinals lost to just three teams all season: Madison Memorial (three times), Beloit Memorial (twice) and Sun Prairie.

Tue
21
Mar
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Softball Cards swinging for the top

Perry Hibner looks up and down his Middleton softball roster and loves what he sees.

There are two experienced pitchers returning to anchor the Cardinals’ staff.

There are five returnees that earned some form of all-Big Eight Conference honors in 2016. And the newcomers are bursting with potential.

But Hibner fully understands that no matter how good things look now, nothing is promised over the next three months.

“On paper, we have a really good returning nucleus,” said Hibner, whose team begins its Big Eight Conference season April 3 against Sun Prairie. “But you don’t win games on paper.”

Middleton found that out the hard way a year ago.

The Cardinals went 16-9 overall and finished fourth in the Big Eight Conference at 11-7. Middleton defeated each of the three teams that finished above it in the league, but also lost to several teams that finished below it.

Tue
21
Mar
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Great expectations await boys track team

Joe Line’s debut season was one to remember.

Now, Middleton’s boys track and field coach hopes the encore is just as exciting.

The Cardinals won their fourth straight Big Eight Conference title last year. Middleton followed that up with a second place finish at the WIAA Division 1 state meet, the best finish in school history.

As a new season begins, the Cardinals have a bevy of goals. Among them is to capture a fifth straight conference title and shine at state once again.

“The Big Eight is very strong with Verona, (Madison) La Follette, and Madison Memorial,” said Middleton coach Joe Line, whose team begins its season April 1 at the Madison West Relays. “These teams always have very talented squads and their coaches put them in the right positions. 

Tue
21
Mar
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Girls track team thinking big

Cory Christnovich isn’t shy.

Middleton’s girls track and field coach knows the Big Eight Conference is loaded once again. Christnovich understands teams like Sun Prairie and Madison Memorial bring back talented, experienced rosters.

But Christnovich fully expects his Cardinals to be the Big Eight’s best outfit for a second straight season.

“I fully expect to compete for the conference title again and to keep it for a second straight year,” Christnovich said.

Middleton did exactly that last season in Christnovich’s first year taking over for long-time coach Tara Franklin. The Cardinals won the Big Eight Conference meet, finished first at regionals, second at sectionals and fifth at state.

Wed
15
Mar
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Girls basketball team will look much different

It was a special senior class, a special team.

And that’s what made the end so hard.

Middleton’s girls basketball team saw its season end with a 49-47 overtime loss to DePere in the WIAA Division 1 state semifinals last Friday. And with it, the careers of seniors Bria Lemirande, Alyssa Lemirande, Carlee Lemirande, Alexis Thomas and Katrina Anderson came to a close.

That group played a large role in Middleton reaching the state tournament two of the past three years. And in the four years the quintet was in the program, the Cardinals won three Big Eight Conference titles and went 86-17 overall (.835).

This season, Middleton went 23-4 overall and shared the Big Eight Conference title with Sun Prairie at 16-2.

“It was a special class,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “Beyond the obvious statistical contributions, they were a joy to coach. They had a passion for the game and really enjoyed playing and competing. 

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