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Middleton's hockey team stays red hot

Middleton’s hockey team is in the middle of its roughest stretch of the season. But the Cardinals refuse to blink.

That’s made for some terrific results now — and bodes extremely well for the upcoming postseason.

Middleton defeated rival Madison Edgewood, 4-2, last Thursday. The Cardinals then upended Fond du Lac — the No. 2 team in the state — 4-2 on Saturday. Middleton also lost to 10th ranked Eau Claire Memorial, 5-2, on Sunday.

With a game against No. 2 Verona set for Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Eagles Nest, Middleton is in a murderous stretch. So far, though, so good.

“Pretty big stretch for us,” Middleton co-coach Steve Libert said.

Middleton’s win over Madison Edgewood was a huge one for postseason seeding. By defeating the Crusaders, the Cardinals (14-4 overall, 8-2 in the Big Eight) are almost a lock to get the No. 2 seed in their sectional. That means Middleton would have home ice until the sectional finals.

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Coaches vs. Cancer event at MHS

Middleton’s boys and girls basketball teams, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society, will host ‘Coaches vs. Cancer’ events on Thursday and Friday.

Middleton’s girls host Madison East on Thursday and the boys host Verona on Friday. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

The sophomore games begin at 5:45 p.m. with the Coaches vs. Cancer organization setting up by approximately 6 pm.  

This year’s girls game will honor three Middleton High School staff members who have all battled cancer head on — Karyn Baxter, Linda Bremmer and Kathleen Shaffer.   

The boys game will honor James Helmuth, a fifth grader at Elm Lawn Elementary School. Helmuth is a basketball player as well as a huge fan of the game.  

Helmuth was diagnosed with adrenal cortical carcinoma nearly a year ago. He continues to inspire others as he battles this disease.  

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Middleton's girls fall to Parker

The girls basketball teams from Middleton and Janesville Parker have dominated the Big Eight Conference for more than two decades now.

So it almost seems fitting that the Cardinals’ current run will be stopped by the Vikings.

Middleton dropped a 49-41 decision at Parker last Friday that signaled a changing of the guard — at least for this season. Parker built a 20-point first half lead, then held off the hard-charging Cardinals in the second half.

The Vikings stayed unbeaten in the Big Eight, improving to 12-0 in the league and 14-1 overall. Middleton — which has won or shared six straight conference titles — slipped to 6-4, 8-6.

“We don’t have a big margin of error, so we have to put together a whole game,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “There’s a lot of teams in our league that are similar to us. But we just got too far behind them, fought back and never got over the hump.”

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Middleton wrestlers thinking big

When it comes to conference titles and championships, no one likes to share.

But Middleton’s wrestlers weren’t complaining much last Friday.

The Cardinals downed Madison La Follette, 54-12, and wrapped up a share of the Big Eight Conference title. Middleton, Sun Prairie and Janesville Craig all posted 8-1 records in the Big Eight dual meet season and shared the title.

Middleton’s hopes of earning a share of the league title seemed bleak after it lost to Sun Prairie on Jan. 8. But Sun Prairie later fell to Janesville Craig, creating the logjam at the top of the standings.

“This year everyone on the team has put in a lot of work to get where they are,” Middleton’s Grant Laurent said. “It’s really great to see that all the effort is paying off.”

Middleton had several top notch performances against the Lancers to earn a share of the league title.

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Middleton tops East in OT

Kevin Bavery had waxed poetically for nearly 17 minutes.

Middleton’s boys basketball coach had talked about the toughness, courage, resilience and grit his Cardinals showed in a thrilling 81-79 overtime win over visiting Madison East Thursday night.

Then the boss chimed in.

“Kevin,” said Bavery’s wife. “We have a grandson at home.”

With that, an exhilarating night for Bavery and his Cardinals was done. But what a night it was.

Middleton lost a 15-point halftime lead, blew a 7-point advantage in the final minute, then needed a Derek Rongstad free throw to force overtime tied at 75. The Purgolders scored the first four points of O.T., but Middleton closed the game on a 6-0 run to notch arguably its most exciting win of the year.

Senior forward Kade Schultz hit six three-pointers and led the Cardinals with 18 points. Rongstad had 17 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter alone.

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Girls basketball team wins twice

It wasn’t always pretty. Far from it.

But Middleton’s girls basketball team took care of business last week, defeating two of the Big Eight Conference’s bottom feeders.

The Cardinals defeated Madison Memorial, 41-30, last Thursday. Middleton then ran past Beloit Memorial, 72-51, last Saturday.

The Cardinals improved to 8-5 overall and 6-3 in the league, which is good for fourth place.

“We were okay both nights,” said Middleton coach Jeff Kind. “We're getting better at some things, but some of our fundamental shortcomings will haunt us if we don't clean them up.”

The Cardinals had a rough offensive night against the Spartans (2-8, 2-12).

Middleton led, 10-8, after the first quarter and 25-19 at halftime. The Cardinals’ advantage was just 30-23 through three quarters, then they held Memorial off in the fourth quarter.

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Strong outing for MHS gymnasts


It was a happy homecoming for Kari Steck and her Middleton girls gymnastics team.

Steck, the Cardinals’ second-year coach, returned to her hometown of Hazel Green for the Southwestern Invitational last Saturday. And Middleton helped make Steck’s return home a pleasant one.

The Cardinals finished second with a 136.85 team score. Mukwonago-Kettle Moraine won the event with a 140.35 score, while Platteville/Belmont/Lancaster was third (136.25) and Holmen (134.625) was fourth.

Aryn Skibba, Middleton’s top all-arounder, competed in just one of the four events as she rested some minor injuries.

“This is an incredible team score that shows the growth of the team over the past few weeks,” Steck said. “Without Aryn's score on three of the four events, the girls still topped our second-highest team score of the year at a meet where Aryn competed all events. 

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Middleton swimmers roll


Middleton’s boys swimming and diving team continued their terrific season last week, finishing first at the Sun Prairie Triangular.

Middleton bested Sun Prairie, 116-54. The Cardinals also cruised past Madison East, 132-38.

Middleton finished the Big Eight Conference dual meet season with a 7-2 record, good for third place.

“The triple dual went really well,” Middleton coach Luke Lengfeld said. “We finished our dual meet season on a high note and I'm looking forward to the championship meets. The guys swam well.”

Middleton’s 200 yard medley relay team of Cooper Green, Matthew Kim, Lex Peterson and Zach Parkin was first in 1:42.74. The Cardinals’ quartet of Hans Kunsch, Rory Slattery, Jacob Aegerter and Connor Wildes was third in 1:47.44

Jackson Uselman was first in the 200 yard freestyle (1:48.33) and Jack McGovern was third (1:48.86).

Parkin (48.79), McGovern (50.14) and Nick Lund (50.29) went 1-2-3 in the 100 yard freestyle.

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Hockey Cardinals push winning streak to six

The WIAA hockey playoffs are less than three weeks away.

And Middleton is picking the perfect time to play some of its best hockey of the season.

The Cardinals stretched their winning streak to six games last week with a pair of impressive road wins.

Middleton defeated Monona Grove, 6-3, on Friday. The Cardinals then turned around and toppled Janesville, 2-1, in overtime last Saturday.

Middleton improved to 12-3 overall and is second in the Big Eight Conference at 8-2.

“The weekend went well,” Middleton coach Steve Libert said. “Friday night we played with energy and really pushed the pace of the game. Saturday we came out a bit listless, but as the game went on, we got better and better.”

Middleton got two goals and an assist from Danny Klagos in its win over Monona Grove. Clayton Brown had a goal and two assists, Jake Bunz and Taylor Dickert both had a goal and an assist, while Jordan Hylbert had a goal.

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Rongstad, Middleton roll past Parker


JANESVILLE — Derek Rongstad and Middleton’s boys basketball team have seen it happen too many times before.

You let an inferior opponent hang around, you give it life, and you can eventually pay the price.

The Cardinals made sure that didn’t happen last Friday.

Middleton went to Janesville Parker, scored the first 17 points of the game, and cruised to an 85-59 win. The Cardinals built a 48-22 halftime lead, stretched their advantage to 72-30 in the second half and posted their most decisive win of the year.

“We definitely didn’t want a slow start against a team like Parker,” said Rongstad, the Cardinals’ standout junior guard. “We thought if we could get off to a big start, they might lay down a little bit.”

Rongstad scored a game-high 23 points in just three quarters. Rongstad made 7-of-14 shots, including five of Middleton’s 12 three-pointers.


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