Sports

Wed
19
Dec
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Middleton tops Verona, loses Rongstad

VERONA — The fall was nasty, unnecessary, and borderline dirty.

Whether or not it derails Middleton’s season remains to be seen.

The Cardinals notched an impressive 62-51 win at Verona last Thursday. But it came with a price.

Late in the first half, Cardinals standout guard Derek Rongstad had a steal and was heading in for a breakaway layup. Verona’s Scott Ndobegang undercut Rongstad, though, causing him to take a nasty spill.

Rongstad used his left hand to break the fall, but instead broke a bone in that same hand. The injury will sideline him until at least mid-January.

Amazingly, the three-man officiating crew elected not to call a foul.

“It was an emotional game and that play certainly set the tone,” Cardinals coach Kevin Bavery said. “But there are a lot of times in life where you need to take the high road.

“We didn’t get the call and guys were mad. But we just have to play above that.”

Middleton did exactly that.

Wed
19
Dec
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Middleton falls to Sun Prairie

With a showdown against Sun Prairie looming, Middleton’s boys basketball team was dealt a huge blow last Friday.

The Cardinals found out they would be without Derek Rongstad — their star point guard and floor leader — for the next four to six weeks with a broken hand. The junior injured his hand while trying to brace himself on a hard fall after attempting a lay-up against Verona last Thursday.

Rather than focusing on the void Rongstad left in the lineup, Middleton coach Kevin Bavery approached it as an opportunity for others to step in.

“The way we address when he got hurt to our guys, we just said, ‘Look it’s an opportunity for other people.’ Injuries happen, they’re a part of the game and it’s always unfortunate,” Bavery said. “I always feel bad for the individual.

Wed
19
Dec
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McMahon's return sparks Cardinals

Welcome back!

That’s what Middleton’s girls basketball team was singing from the top of its collective lungs after destroying Madison East, 56-28, last Friday.

The Cardinals were giddy to welcome back preseason all-state forward Liz McMahon. McMahon missed the first month of the season with a broken finger, but made her debut a memorable one with a game-high 18 points.

“It's very good to have Liz back,” Cardinals coach Jeff Kind said. “She gives us some added scoring and opens things up for us on offense just by being a threat to score.”

Middleton improved to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big Eight Conference. The Cardinals are in a three-way tie for second place in the league, one game behind Janesville Parker.

But with McMahon back, Middleton has a chance to become the kind of team Kind envisioned before he lost his best player.

Wed
19
Dec
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Hockey Cards win two of three

Middleton hockey co-coach Steve Libert called the Cardinals’ past week “strange.”

That’s a perfect way to describe it.

Middleton, ranked seventh in the latest state poll, won two of its three games last week and improved to 6-1.

The Cardinals toppled Janesville, 4-2, last Tuesday and routed Madison East/La Follette, 13-0, last Thursday.

Interestingly, the Cardinals’ best performance probably came in their 1-0 loss to Ashwaubenon last Saturday.

In between, Middleton had a brush with the athletic code and will be without three players for six games.

Middleton opened the week with a solid win at Janesville. The Cardinals trailed, 2-1, heading to the third period. Middleton then rallied for three goals in the final period.

“We left some hockey on the ice,” Libert said. “We played, but did not play with any get up and go. If a Janesville player was ahead of us or challenging us we let them have the puck.”

Wed
19
Dec
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Wrestlers third at Appleton

It was another terrific week for Middleton’s wrestling team.

The Cardinals took a big step towards winning the Big Eight Conference with a 45-24 win at Janesville Craig last Tuesday.

The Cardinals then finished third at the 13-team Appleton West Invite last Saturday. Appleton North and Little Chute won the tournament with 198 points each, while Middleton was a close third (195.5).

“We did really well,” Middleton coach Kent Weiler said. “But we also didn’t go all that way to lose. We knew it was pretty close.”

Middleton senior Jake Cain improved to 18-0 on the season by winning another championship at 138 pounds. Taggart Haase also finished first at 170 pounds, while Wyatt Cory was third at 195. Brett Cain (113), Grant Laurent (152) and Lon Yeary (220) all finished fourth.

Jake Cain had a memorable day, pinning all five of his opponents. Cain was also named ‘Outstanding Wrestler’ of the tournament.

Wed
19
Dec
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Swimmers fall to Madison West

It wasn’t the outcome they wanted.

But there were several encouraging performances in Middleton’s 97-77 loss to Madison West in a boys swimming meet last Thursday.

“The West meet went well,” Cardinals coach Luke Lengfeld said. “We didn't get the outcome we were looking for, but the boys swam very well and battled to the end. 

“There were a few races that we lost that we needed to win to take the meet. Even though we lost the meet I was very happy with how the guys swam and competed.”

There were several positives in the loss.

Middleton’s Jackson Uselman won the 100-yard freestyle (48.50) and the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.59). Zack Parkin won the 50 yard freestyle (22.01), Nick Lund won the 100 yard fly (54.68) and Matthew Kim was first in the 100 yard breast stroke (1:04.40).

Middleton’s 200-yard free relay team of Uselman, Jack McGovern, Lund and Parkin was also first (1:29.20).

Fri
14
Dec
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Parker rallies past Middleton girls

It was all right there for the taking.

A four-point lead. Less than a minute remaining. A chance to make an enormous early-season statement.

And then it all slipped away.

Middleton’s girls basketball team led visiting Janesville Parker, 48-44, with 53.3 seconds left last Thursday. But the Vikings answered with a stunning 8-0 run and held on for a 52-50 win.

“Our inexperience really bit us in the butt,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “I’m really proud of how we hung in there. But we just don’t have people that have been in position where they’ve had to finish games. This is new to so many of our kids.”

Middleton, which has won at least a share of six straight Big Eight Conference titles, had the preseason favorite Vikings on the ropes throughout. The Cardinals, playing without all-state forward Liz McMahon (broken finger), were the scrappier team all night.

Fri
14
Dec
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Boys basketball team bounces back

When it comes to playing games on back-to-back nights, Luke Schafer said a little depth can go a long way.

Schafer’s layup off a backcourt steal helped spark a key scoring surge in the third quarter as Middleton rolled to a convincing 68-45 victory over visiting Madison West in a Big Eight Conference boys basketball game Saturday night.

The quick turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time for the Cardinals, who dropped a hard-fought 61-53 decision at Madison East on Friday night.

“West has great personnel. They have quick kids and one prolific scorer and they’ve some size inside and we knew it would be a tough matchup,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “A couple of people after the game hit me up with that (Madison) Memorial took a lot out of (West) last night in a tough game. But I told our kids don’t let anybody tell you that we didn’t have a tough game with East.”

Fri
14
Dec
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Middleton wrestlers shine

Middleton’s wrestling team finished third at the 16-team Tomah Scramble last Saturday.

Lancaster won the event with 445 points, while Lodi (392), Middleton (362) Caledonia (360) and Neillsville (342.5) rounded out the top five.

Cardinals senior Jake Cain finished first at 138 points, pinning three foes along the way.

Cain received a bye in his first match, then pinned Lodi’s Adam Phillips in 45 seconds. Cain followed with pins of Baraboo’s William Pierce in 1:40 and Lancaster’s Joe Crosby in 1:01, then won by injury default over Caledonia’s Luke Werner.

Taggart Haase also enjoyed a big day, finishing second at 170 pounds.

Haase opened with a pin of Mosinee’s Jacob Sparby in 3:07, then captured a 6-2 decision over Viroqua’s Clay Fitzpatrick. Haase followed with an 8-3 win over Mitchell Pohlman of Neillsville, lost an 11-1 decision to Lancaster’s Ethan Soderstrom and toppled Cashton’s Brandon Schmitz, 7-3.

Fri
14
Dec
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Gymnasts win opening meet

Kari Egan-Steck always has great expectations. But Middleton’s girls gymnastics coach likes to temper them for the first meet each season.

This year, that probably wasn’t necessary.

The Cardinals opened their season last Tuesday with an impressive 134.625-132.275 win over visiting Mount Horeb.

“With the first meet you never really know what to expect,” Egan-Steck said. “But I think that the girls definitely exceeded my expectations. They had a phenomenal meet.”

These two programs know each other well from club gymnastics and traditionally open the season against each other. It leads to a meet that’s usually more friendly than fiery.

“It is a low stress, friendly meet that the girls have a lot of fun with,” Egan-Steck said.

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