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Staples' amazing journey takes her to Platteville

When her remarkable journey finally ends, Natalie Staples wants to become a motivational speaker. Staples would like to write a book, as well.

But there will be time for all of that down the road. For now, Staples added the latest chapter on her incredible voyage.

Staples, a senior girls basketball player at Middleton High School, committed to play at UW-Platteville beginning next season.

Staples, who nearly lost her arm and life after an ATV accident in Aug. 2010, didn’t appear to have much of a basketball future before this season. But Staples had a breakout senior year, caught the eyes of the Platteville staff, and has become a poster child for courage, strength and perseverance.

“After my injury I had a feeling that my basketball career was going to be cut shorter than I had hoped for,” Staples said. “But after making a lot of positives strides in my game this past season I thought I would have a chance. I got just that.”

Rightfully so.

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Girls track team struggles

Middleton’s girls track and field team finished 29th overall at last Saturday’s WTFA State Indoor Championships held at UW-Whitewater.

Milwaukee King won the event with 65 points, while Milwaukee Riverside (35), Neenah (34), Wisconsin Lutheran (29) and East Troy (22) rounded out the top five.

Middleton finished with four points.

“The weather this year has put a crimp in things, as it has for everyone else as well,” Middleton coach Tara Franklin said. “Middleton has no indoor practice facility that is specific for track.

“We are fortunate to have the use of the gyms, but not able to do much more than conditioning, some basics of relays, etc. Field events have had little or no practice before they competed. This is a definite disadvantage for us — especially this year.” 

Middleton also competed without standouts Hanna Docter and Delaney Foster, who are both out with injuries.

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Slow going for boys track team

Middleton’s boys track and field team finished 42nd overall at last Saturday’s WTFA State Indoor Championships held at UW-Whitewater.

Green Bay Preble won the event with 63 points, while Mequon Homestead (29), Madison Memorial (26), Kettle Moraine (25) and Arrowhead (22) rounded out the top five.

Middleton finished with two points.

“In the end, it wasn't the day we were hoping for to end our indoor season,” Middleton coach Isaac Mezera said. “The bright side is there's a lot of track left and we're hungry for the outdoor season to start.”

Middleton’s points came from Steven Harris, who was seventh in the 800 meter run (1:59.84). Monroe’s Ethan Moehn won the race in 1:56.81.

“Steven Harris was in one wild 800,” Mezera said. “He had a tough time establishing position and ended up running more than 800 meters in all of his attempts to get around and through the pack.  

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Spring sports stuck in the mud


First the snow came — and refused to leave.

When there was finally a break on that front, the rains followed.

As far as springs go, this one has been a nightmare for coaches, athletes and the schedule makers.

And with most sports already a few games behind, the next six weeks will be a scramble. That’s because by mid- to late-May, all sports are into their postseasons.

“The problem is there’s an end date that we have to be done with everything with by,” Middleton athletic director Bob Joers said. “We’re trying to be creative … and we might have to eliminate some non-conference stuff. But it’s been a great challenge.”

Indeed it has.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the girls softball team had already postponed its first five games. The boys baseball team had postponed its first four contests.

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MHS golfers hope to reload


Tom Cabalka was flying across the Midwest Sunday afternoon.

And as Middleton’s boys golf coach saw snow from his airplane window, he had one thought.

“What is that stuff?” said Cabalka, who had spent the previous three months in Arizona. “I knew what I was coming back to, but I was also hoping I didn’t see that down there.”

Fat chance.

Golfers everywhere are getting a painfully late start this spring. And for Middleton, that’s doubly bothersome.

Not only are the Cardinals extremely anxious to get rolling. Middleton also has 60% of its lineup to replace and was hoping for a proper amount of time to figure things out.

The Cardinals’ first match of the year is scheduled for Monday. But the odds of that happening are similar to cashing in that Powerball ticket you’re holding.

“It’s not great timing,” Cabalka said of the rotten spring. “We’ve got more questions than we ever had.”

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Soccer Cards thinking big


The No. 1 goal is pretty simple.

And if it happens, the rest will likely take care of themselves.

“Score, score and score some more,” Middleton’s girls soccer coach Mary Duffy said.

The Cardinals begin their season April 11 at Beloit Memorial. And Middleton’s top focus will be developing a more consistent offense than it had a year ago.

Middleton went 11-9-4 last season and reached the sectional finals before falling to Madison West. Just think what those Cardinals could have done with a dependable offense.

Middleton averaged 2.0 goals per game. But the Cardinals were shutout on eight occasions and had one goal in eight more games.

So in 16 of the Cardinals’ 24 games (66.7%) they had one goal or fewer.

Middleton, which finished second to Verona in the Big Eight Conference last year, took some hits in graduation. But the Cardinals return a solid nucleus and should contend again for the league’s top spot.

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Tennis Cardinals aiming high


There are still some question marks.

A few balls in the air (pardon the pun).

But when things settle, this much is certain: Middleton should have one of the state’s top boys tennis teams again.

The Cardinals are scheduled to open the season Tuesday at Beloit Memorial. And Middleton will have its third coach in as many years, as Deke Bradley takes over the program.

But despite the repeated turnover, the Cardinals should again be a force.

“I've yet to discuss our teams goals with the kids,” said Bradley, who also coaches Middleton’s girls team. “But if it were only up to me, I would say win our conference and qualify for team state would definitely be goals on the list.”

Those certainly seem realistic.

Middleton has won its sectional and reached the state tournament four straight years and five of the last six. The Cardinals have also won the Big Eight Conference four consecutive seasons and seven of the last eight.

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Baseball Cardinals have high hopes


Tom Schmitt looks at the forecast. It’s bleak, as it’s been all spring.

Schmitt sees snow all around his baseball diamond.

And Middleton’s baseball manager is sure of one thing.

“We’re not going to start on time this year,” Schmitt said of the Cardinals’ scheduled opener with Beloit Memorial on April 2.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that when Middleton finally gets started, the Cardinals should be a formidable outfit again.

Middleton went 20-8 last year and finished in third place in the Big Eight Conference. Those Cardinals also reached the WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinals, where they lost to Hartford.

Middleton has a solid nucleus back from that group and should be in the hunt for conference and postseason success again.

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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.

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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.


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