Sports

Thu
28
Mar
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Softball Cards aiming for turnaround

Arin Oppermann was in mid-sentence.

Middleton’s third-year girls softball coach had already discussed the strengths of her team. Oppermann talked how last year’s weaknesses could be corrected.

Then Oppermann stopped midstream and proclaimed this year’s motto.

“It’s about time,” Oppermann said.

Middleton’s softball community couldn’t agree more.

In Oppermann’s first two years, the Cardinals are 19-26 overall and 16-19 in the Big Eight Conference. Middleton finished eighth in the league last year and fifth in 2011.

Oppermann hopes this is the year her team begins to resemble past Middleton outfits that dominated the Big Eight and were an annual challenger for the state tournament.

“These are awesome girls,” Oppermann said. “And with this group, we believe we have the talent and the parts to make a jump in the standings.

Sun
24
Mar
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Boys track team thinking big

Since they entered his program back in the spring of 2010, Isaac Mezera knew this could be a special season.

Now, that young core of standouts has grown up. And Mezera, Middleton’s boys track and field coach, is giddy about what awaits this spring.

“I've been waiting for this group to be seniors for three years,” Mezera said. “I knew it might be our best shot at a conference title.”

Middleton is coming off an impressive season in which it won a regional title and was runner-up at sectionals. Currently, there are about 125 athletes on the team, which is up about 15 from last spring.

“The early outlook is we should be a better team than we were last year, which is saying something,” Mezera said.

Middleton’s top athletes figure to be senior Steven Harris and junior Ernest Winters.

Sun
24
Mar
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Girls track team hopes to shine

There aren’t as many returnees as Tara Franklin is used to having.

But that doesn’t mean expectations will be lowered one bit for Middleton’s girls track and field team this spring.

The Cardinals opened their season last Saturday at the Whitewater Invitational. And while Middleton may not have the proven veterans of past years, the program is always bustling with talent.

That means another year of high hopes for Franklin and her team.

“I think we have a very good chance of being top three in the conference again,” Franklin said. “Where it will play out is how some of our newer athletes help us to fill in the gaps.”

Middleton has a terrific group of returning distance runners. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are still looking for some answers in the field events.

Tue
19
Mar
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Kollasch named new boys soccer coach at MHS

Ben Kollasch is — and always has been — deeply invested in Middleton’s boys soccer program.

Kollasch watched his four older brothers play at Middleton in the 1980s. Kollasch later became an MHS standout himself, and helped lead the Cardinals to the state tournament in 1993 and ’94.

And Kollasch has coached in the Middleton program since 1996.

So it’s safe to say that Middleton got one of its own recently, when Kollasch was named the new coach at MHS. Kollasch replaces Ken Burghy, who was Middleton’s head coach the past 29 years, but retired following the 2012 season.

“It probably means more to me than it would to any other person in the world,” Kollasch said of taking over the Cardinals’ program. “I looked up to MHS soccer players as heroes while growing up.

Wed
13
Mar
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Middleton stays ahead of the curve

For nearly two decades now, the athletic programs at Middleton High School have been the envy of the Big Eight Conference — and most of the state, for that matter.

It’s one thing to be the best, though, and another to stay on top.

In an effort to remain a step ahead of the competition, Middleton hired Brad Rogeberg and Steve Myrland last fall as part-time strength and conditioning coaches. The duo has implemented fitness plans to enhance the performance and development of Middleton athletes in all sports.

“They’ve been a great combo,” Middleton athletic director Bob Joers said. “Everybody has worked together in-season and out of season, and at the end, it gives you a better athlete. It’s exciting, especially how it’s taken off.”

Middleton is the first school in the Big Eight to hire strength and conditioning coaches, and is one of just a handful in the state to have such a position inside its athletic department.

Wed
13
Mar
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Rongstad named first-team all-Big Eight

Derek Rongstad scored more points this season than any junior in the history of Middleton boys basketball.

Rongstad set team records for most three-pointers in a game (seven) and a season (56).

Even more amazing, Rongstad accomplished that despite missing three games.

So it was no surprise last week when Rongstad was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference. Middleton junior guard Luke Schafer was named third-team and junior forward Max Oelerich was named honorable-mention all-league.

“Look up ‘gym rat’ in the dictionary and there's Doc's picture,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said of Rongstad. “Sometimes you have to worry about whether someone is focusing on the wrong things or getting into a situation that might hurt more than help when it comes to offseason training and playing. But with Doc it all starts with a great work ethic as his foundation.”

Wed
13
Mar
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McMahon honored

Liz McMahon had a remarkable season for Middleton’s girls basketball team.

McMahon averaged a whopping 16.5 points per game, which was roughly one-third of the Cardinals’ total offense. McMahon also led Middleton in rebounding (9.8), steals (2.9) and shot 48.0% from the field.

So it was no surprise that McMahon — a junior forward — was named to the all-Big Eight Conference first-team last week. Middleton senior guard Shannon McCauley was also named honorable-mention all-conference.

“I was happy that Liz was recognized,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “She had a very good year and is continuing to improve her all-around game. I look forward to having her come back next year as a leader with a great deal of varsity experience.”

McMahon was Middleton’s leading scorer as a sophomore, when the Cardinals reached the WIAA Division 1 state semifinals. And McMahon took her game to a new level this season.

Wed
13
Mar
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Middleton boys basketball team stacked for 2014

For weeks, they all echoed largely the same thoughts.

Nothing is guaranteed. Tomorrow promises you nothing. There are zero things in life owed to you.

For having such perspective, Middleton’s boys basketball team deserves a great deal of credit.

With that being said, though, everyone around the Cardinals understands that the 2013-’14 season could be a banner one.

Middleton will bring back its top three scorers from this year’s team that went 14-11 and reached a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal. The Cardinals figure to welcome back six of the top seven players from their rotation and 10 total players that saw quality minutes this winter.

While the Cardinals have tried to stay grounded when talking about next season, they also realize it could be one of the better seasons in recent memory.

Wed
13
Mar
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Future bright for hockey Cardinals

 

The fact it ended was tough enough.

But when Middleton’s hockey team was eliminated from the postseason after a so-so effort, it made the ending even tougher.

“Mixed emotions,” Middleton co-coach Steve Libert said. “Because you want to go out playing your best and we did not have a peak performance.”

Still, Middleton’s season was a huge success.

After immense graduation losses from a year ago, few knew what to expect from the 2012-’13 Cardinals. But Middleton exceeded most expectations.

The Cardinals went 18-6 overall and finished second in the Big Eight Conference at 11-3. Middleton reached the WIAA sectional finals, before falling to Madison Edgewood, 3-2, in double overtime.

“One fantastic aspect about this year’s team was the diverse interests that they brought together in the locker room,” Libert said. “They all had respect for one another’s interests.”

The Cardinals will take some hits in graduation.

Wed
13
Mar
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Bunz named first-team all-Big Eight

There isn’t much Jake Bunz didn’t do for Middleton’s hockey team this year.

Score. Defend. Lead.

Bunz did it all.

Therefore, he was an easy pick as a first-team all-Big Eight Conference defenseman.

In addition to Bunz, Middleton sophomore goalie Max McConnell, senior defenseman Ethan McLeod and junior forward Jordan Carey were all named honorable-mention all-league.

Bunz was a unanimous selection to the first team, and it’s easy to see why.

Bunz led Middleton in points (29), goals (17) and finished seventh in the conference in scoring. Bunz was the only defenseman in the league to finish in the top-10 in scoring.

Bunz also was a finalist for the Davis Drewskie award, given to the top defenseman in the state of Wisconsin.

“It was pretty obvious that Jake was the top defenseman in the conference,” Middleton coach Steve Libert said.

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