Sports

Tue
21
Jan
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Former hockey players speak highly of Liberts

 

Word spread like wildfire.

That’s what happens inside programs that are as tightly knit as Middleton hockey is.

And as former players heard that Cardinals’ co-coaches Steve and Tony Libert were forced to resign last week, the overriding feeling was sadness.

“I honestly thought of them as coaches that always had the best intentions, not only in caring about us as hockey players, but as people, too,” said Skyler Rusch, a former Cardinals standout and 2008 MHS graduate. “Steve and Tony would take time off from work to coach the team and do things like host optional video sessions on Sunday’s, instead of spending time with family. 

“I would consider their dedication to the program to be extremely high, above and beyond what any other coaches had ever done for my teams.”

Eric Smith, a former standout goalie who helped Middleton reach the state championship game in 2011, agreed with Rusch.

Tue
21
Jan
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Girls basketball team now 10-0 in Big 8

Their starts certainly weren’t ideal.

Their finishes, though, more than made up for it.

Middleton’s girls basketball team struggled out of the gates twice last week. But the Cardinals rallied both times to stay undefeated in Big Eight Conference play.

Middleton surged past Madison Memorial, 55-51, last Thursday and defeated Beloit Memorial, 73-57, last Saturday.

“I was not pleased with our focus and intensity to start either game,” Middleton head coach Jeff Kind said. “Memorial and Beloit both played inspired and aggressively and gained confidence as they stayed with us.  

“We didn't shoot particularly well in either game and we have to be careful about just falling in love with the threes. We settle for a three too quickly sometimes and don't give the offense a chance to work. We are happy to have won the games and hopefully are learning from them, but we still have lots to work on.” 

Tue
21
Jan
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Boys basketball team nipped by Memorial

For a split second it looked like the Middleton boys’ basketball team had just the chance it was looking for.

Then, just like that, it was ripped away.

The Cardinals trailed by three points with under a minute remaining in their game against rival Madison Memorial when Demond Hill drove into the lane, scored and drew contact for a potential three-point play.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Hill was called for a charge and the basket was waived off. The Spartans went 4-for-4 from the free throw line the rest of the way and held on for a 55-50 Big Eight Conference victory over Middleton in front of a packed house last Friday at Madison Memorial.

“That was just excitement,” Hill said of the play. “My body just went crazy … count it and one. Could have tied the game and it was a different situation. Last second … that hurt. We played hard.”

Tue
21
Jan
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Gymnasts try gaining their balance

One of these days, Middleton’s girls gymnastics team might get fully healthy.

And when they do, Cardinals head coach Kari Steck can’t wait to see what her team can do.

Middleton had another adventurous week, welcoming back standout Aryn Skibba from injury for the first time this year. The Cardinals then lost senior captain Gabby Aranda to a knee injury, while junior Lauren Ace sprained her thumb and was limited.

Despite the injuries, the Cardinals hung tough.

Middleton edged Janesville Craig, 130.650-130.375 in a Big Eight Conference dual meet last Thursday. The Cardinals then finished fourth at the four-team Madison East Invite last Saturday.

Tue
21
Jan
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Swimmers 3rd at own relays

Many of the top swimming programs in the area gathered Saturday for the Middleton Relays.

And the Cardinals more than held their own, finishing in third place at the 12-team event.

Madison Memorial won the meet with 197 points, while Madison West (167), Middleton (155), McFarland (135) and Verona/Mount Horeb (133) rounded out the top five.

“The Cardinal invite went well and is a great meet for the boys to have fun while racing hard,” Middleton coach Luke Lengfeld said. “Individually we had several big swims on relays which is great to see.”

Middleton had six third place finishes among the 10 events.

The Cardinals’ top finish came in the 300 yard fly, where Harrison Bielski, Derek Pettit, Luke Delany and Lex Peterson finished second (2:44.35).

Fri
17
Jan
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Middleton's boys edge La Follette

 

Middleton boys basketball coach Kevin Bavery challenged Max Oelerich.

And the Cardinals’ senior forward delivered.

Oelerich scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds on Tuesday night to power Middleton past Madison La Follette, 57-55.

“We challenged him to get back to his strength, which is the mid-range game and offensive rebounding,” Bavery said of Oelerich. “It was great to see and much needed.” 

The Cardinals won for the fourth time in five games, improved to 7-5 overall and 5-5 in the Big Eight Conference. It marked the first time Middleton has reached .500 in the conference since Dec. 3.

La Follette slipped to 4-6, 6-7.

Middleton senior guard Derek Rongstad added 10 points, while freshman guard C.J. Fermanich and senior forward Demond Hill both scored eight points. Senior guard Luke Schafer and senior forward Derek Rogeberg added to the Cardinals’ balanced scoring with seven points each.

Tue
14
Jan
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Girls basketball team leads Big 8

Darby Raffel joined Middleton’s varsity basketball team late in the year two seasons ago.

Raffel, now a senior, remembers being blown away by those Cardinals — a group that eventually reached the state semifinals.

Today, Raffel is starting to get similar feelings about this Middleton team.

“I definitely see a lot of the same characteristics in our team,” Raffel said. “And that gets me really excited.”

Right now, there’s a lot to be excited about.

Middleton cruised past Madison La Follette last Friday, 62-44. One year ago, the Lancers defeated the Cardinals in three straight meetings, and toppled Middleton in the WIAA regional finals.

The Cardinals exacted some revenge Friday night, and maintained their hold on first place in the Big Eight Conference. Middleton improved to 8-0 in the conference and 10-2 overall, and stayed one game ahead of second place Verona (7-1, 11-1).

Tue
14
Jan
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Boys basketball team edges Craig

Derek Rongstad is one of the top basketball players in the Big Eight Conference.

The Middleton senior and UW-Milwaukee recruit is extremely well rounded and can beat foes in a plethora of ways. And last Saturday night, Rongstad’s entire skill set was on full display.

Rongstad scored a season-high 24 points and powered Middleton to a much-needed 70-69 over visiting Janesville Craig. Rongstad added a team-best eight rebounds and six assists, as well.

“Probably his best overall game,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said of Rongstad. “I was listening to ESPN radio … and they were talking about Tom Brady being at a point in his career where the numbers don't matter. He's willing to do whatever it takes to win.  

Tue
14
Jan
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MHS wrestlers win Baraboo Classic

 

Six championships.

Countless terrific performances.

It all added up to a championship for Middleton’s wrestlers at last Saturday’s Baraboo Classic.

The Cardinals finished with 175 points to outdistance runner-up Baraboo (162) at the eight-team event. Sussex Hamilton was third (156), while Tomah (129) and Johnson Creek (118) rounded out the top five.

“We were a little shorthanded and only had 12 wrestlers,” Middleton coach Kent Weiler said. “So six champions coming out of there is great. It was a really good day.”

Middleton’s championships came from Chris Rogers at 126 pounds, Brandon Best (145), Shay Haase (152), Nathan Dresen (160), Taggart Haase (170) and Sean Benedict (heavyweight).

Rogers opened the tournament with a bye, then pinned Johnson Creek’s Alex David in 3:18. Rogers won by injury default over Hamilton’s Owen Gorges, then he pinned Edgerton’s Daniel McCue in 48 seconds and Tomah’s Hunter Pierce in 3:25.

Tue
14
Jan
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Middleton gymnasts hanging tough

Middleton’s girls gymnastics team is trying to get healthy.

The Cardinals are hoping to field their preferred lineup soon.

In the interim, Middleton is doing a nice job of hanging tough everywhere it goes.

Middleton finished third among Division 1 schools at last Saturday’s Mount Horeb Invite. The Cardinals also dropped a Big Eight Conference dual meet to Madison Memorial, 135.125-133.475 last Thursday.

Middleton competed without standouts Aryn Skibba and Lucy Bergenthal.

Madison West and Madison Memorial shared the team title in Mount Horeb with 132.950 points. Middleton was a close third (132.250), followed by Watertown (131.675), Verona/Madison Edgewood (124.025) and Madison East-La Follette (112.375).

“Very close meet, but the girls did an awesome job,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said. “There were a few falls counted in our team score, but consistently lower scores all around than we've seen this year.”

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