Sports

Wed
06
Nov
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Girls spikers ousted by Sun Prairie

 

The first set slipped away when they lost the last five points. The second set was a confluence of errors — hitting, service, and mental miscues.

By the time Amber Karn and her Middleton girls volleyball teammates caught their breath last Saturday, they were staring at the very real possibility Sun Prairie would sweep the Cardinals out of their own gym — a giant reality check for a team that had spent the previous day-and-a-half actively recruiting their classmates to come out and cheer them on to a state tournament berth.

“After we lost those first two games,” said Karn, a junior outside hitter, “we got together and said, ‘This is our house. Let's not have any regrets walking off this floor.’ ”

Wed
06
Nov
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Middleton swimmers win Big 8 Conference meet

 

When it all began back in August, Lauren Cabalka really had far more questions than answers.

Half of the roster was new. The lineup was in constant flux.

And Cabalka — Middleton’s girls swimming coach — was at best cautiously optimistic.

“We truly did not know how we were going to fill the holes we lost last season,” Cabalka said.

Here’s how: with talented youngsters and newcomers. And with veterans ready to take advantage of their chance.

In the end, the Cardinals never missed a beat.

Middleton continued its surprising season last Saturday, winning the Big Eight Conference meet for a fourth straight season. The Cardinals finished with 528 points to easily outdistance runner-up Verona/Mount Horeb (422.5) and the rest of the conference.

Middleton now hosts a WIAA Division 1 Sectional Saturday at 1 p.m. The state meet will be Nov. 16 at the UW-Natatorium.

Fri
01
Nov
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Girls spikers advance to sectional finals

 

 

WAUNAKEE — The pattern was eerily familiar. And déjà vu was the last thing Middleton’s girls’ volleyball team wanted Thursday night.

Twelve months ago, the Cardinals went to Waunakee for a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal. That night, the host Warriors won Games 1, 4 and 5 and ended Middleton’s season with a 3-2 win.

On Halloween night, Middleton was back in the exact same gym at the exact same point in the playoffs — a sectional semifinal. And amazingly, the first four games followed an identical pattern as the 2012 match did.

“We said in the locker room before the fifth game, ‘This can not be like last year,’ ” Cardinals sophomore outside hitter Logan Welti said. “We all remember that really well … and we tried to flush it out of our heads.”

They did — although there were plenty of harried moments.

Tue
29
Oct
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Middleton KO's Memorial

Their once comfortable 21-point lead had been trimmed to a single score. The once exuberant Cardinal Nation was quiet had begun to sweat on this cold and extremely blustery night.

But with Middleton’s WIAA Division 1 playoff opener on the line last Friday, the Cardinals turned to their offensive line and dynamic senior running back Charles Braxton.

That was a winning formula as Middleton held off hard-charging Madison Memorial, 28-14, and won their first playoff game since 2010. The Cardinals also avenged a Week 1 loss to the Spartans, a defeat that fueled Middleton all season long.

Middleton (8-2) advanced to a Level 2 playoff game at Oconomowoc (10-0) Friday night at 7.

“It feels great,” said Braxton, the star of the night with 32 carries for 208 yards and three touchdowns. “It was getting a little tense there.”

It sure was.

Tue
29
Oct
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Football Cards ready for Oconomowoc

 

They are explosive.

They are senior dominant.

And they are undefeated.

Oconomowoc’s football team is in the middle of a memorable season, and has a perfect 10-0 record.

Middleton will try ending the Coons’ dream season Friday night, when the teams meet at 7 p.m. in a WIAA Division 1 Level 2 playoff game.

Oconomowoc is a No. 2 seed, while Middleton (8-2) is seeded third.

“I know they're really good,” Cardinals senior running back Charles Braxton said. “But we’re pretty confident right now, too.”

Oconomowoc won the Wisconsin Little Ten Conference with a 7-0 mark. Along the way, the Coons had one of the most memorable wins in years, topping Wisconsin Lutheran 84-82, in a Week 6 battle.

That game went a long way towards Oconomowoc averaging 38.8 points per game and allowing 22.1 points per contest.

Tue
29
Oct
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Girls XC team racing to state

 

This certainly wasn’t a surprise.

But that didn’t make it any less exhilarating.

Middleton’s girls cross country team was the consensus favorite at last Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 DeForest Sectional. And the Cardinals lived up to their billing by winning the sectional.

Middleton finished with 51 points to edge runner-up Sun Prairie (54). Madison Memorial was third with 87 points, while Madison West (92) and Beaver Dam (124) rounded out the top-five at the 12-team sectional.

Middleton qualified for Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state meet, which will be held at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids beginning at 12:40 p.m.

“We knew it wasn't going to be easy to make it to state as a team,” Middleton sophomore Sam Valentine said. “But our goal was to go into the race with confidence, knowing we've beaten Sun Prairie and Madison West this season, and maybe that would shake off some of our nerves.”

Tue
29
Oct
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Boys XC team headed to state

 

Isaac Mezera heard the chatter.

But even Middleton’s boys cross country coach had a hard believing the noise.

From the start of the season, the Cardinals’ young group talked about making it to the WIAA Division 1 state meet. But Mezera, who’s been around the block a time or two, knew that could be a pipe dream.

“They were saying they were going to make it to state from early on in the season, but I kind of figured it would be a rebuilding year,” Mezera said. “But they worked really hard all season long.”

And last Saturday, it paid off in spades.

Middleton finished in a tie for second place with Baraboo at the DeForest Sectional. But the Cardinals won the tiebreaker because their sixth runner bested the Thunderbirds’ No. 6 runner.

That sent Middleton to state for the first time since 2010. It also marked the first time since 2002 that the Cardinals will send their boys and girls teams to state in the same year.

Tue
29
Oct
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Girls spikers set for sectionals

 

Last year is just that.

Revenge isn’t a factor.

Instead, Middleton’s girls volleyball team is focusing on the here and now.

At least that’s what Cardinals head coach Franco Marcos is saying publicly.

Middleton stormed through regional play last week, with impressive wins over Holmen and La Crosse Central.

Now, the third-seeded Cardinals travel to second-seeded Waunakee Thursday for a sectional semifinal at 8 p.m. A year ago, the Warriors defeated Middleton in this same gym and at the same point in the postseason.

Marcos insists, though, that the past is the past.

“We have a different team this year and so do they,” Marcos said. “We will be at their place and we need to not beat ourselves. We just need to be the best team on Thursday night.”

Middleton certainly was the best team in its regional victories.

The Cardinals toppled 14th-seeded Holmen, 25-18, 25-10, 21-12 last Thursday.

Tue
29
Oct
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Swimmers win fourth straight Big 8 title

 

Ashley Aegerter. Sam Andryk. Emily Douglas. Elizabeth Ihrig. Olivia Kossel. Karley Licking. Maddy Mack.

These seven seniors on Middleton’s girls swimming team did something last week that has never been done in the history of the program.

They finished their careers undefeated in Big Eight Conference dual meets.

Middleton rolled past Madison Memorial, 104-66, last Tuesday and finished a perfect 9-0 in league dual meets. That marked the fourth straight year the Cardinals have won the conference with a perfect record.

That also means Middleton’s sensational senior class went 36-0 in league dual meets during their four-year careers.

“At the end of the meet, my initial reaction was ‘Great, 9-0. We really earned that,’ ” Middleton coach Lauren Cabalka said. “After thinking more about it, I realized that this senior class never lost a dual meet.  

Tue
29
Oct
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Boys spikers win Big Eight

 

It’s become old hat for Middleton’s boys volleyball team to win the Big Eight Conference championship.

But that doesn’t make it any less rewarding.

The Cardinals continued their domination of the league last week, rolling past Fort Atkinson and Madison La Follette.

Middleton finished the conference season a perfect 10-0 and won the league for the seventh time in eight years. The Cardinals are also 20-0 in conference matches the past two years and 82-4 in the league over the past eight years.

“Those are big numbers,” Middleton coach Ben White said.

That’s for sure. And the Cardinals added to those glowing totals with two more wins last week.

First, the Cardinals bested Fort Atkinson, 25-16, 25-15, 25-19, last Tuesday.

Andy Keeler led Middleton with 13 kills and 10 digs, while Connor Zimmick had seven kills,17 assists and three blocks. Robbie Drachenberg had 18 assists and James Caldwell added 11 digs.

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