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MHS girls gymnastics team 7th at state


This wasn’t an off day.

There was no disappointment, no dissatisfaction.

In fact, Middleton girls gymnastics coach Kari Steck isn’t sure why that question would even be asked.

Middleton went to the WIAA Division 1 state meet in Wisconsin Rapids last Saturday and finished seventh overall at the 10-team event. The Cardinals entered the meet ranked third in the state.

Middleton posted a solid score of 139.560. But that was more than one point less than the Cardinals averaged at the Big Eight Conference meet and the Waunakee Sectional.

But Steck insisted her team had no displeasure with seventh place.

“It was not an off day for the team,” Steck said. “I'm not sure why you ask? Competition at the state meet is good and tough, as it should be. We were happy to be there, and the girls did their best. I am very proud of them. 

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Memorial ends Middleton's season

WATERTOWN — The locker room was virtually empty now.

Middleton boys basketball coach Kevin Bavery had spoken to his team for 30 minutes. He spent another 20 minutes talking to the local media.

With the recorders off and the players gone, the reality that Middleton’s surprising season had come to an end had now fully registered.

“Damn,” Bavery said. “Damn.”

And really, not much more needed to be said.

In a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal Thursday night, Madison Memorial got the best of Middleton for a 20th straight time. The Spartans erased an early 17-6 deficit, played stifling defense the rest of the way, and downed the Cardinals, 59-49.

Middleton, which hasn’t defeated Memorial since Feb. 3, 2005, ended its year 14-11. Memorial improved to 21-4 and will face Mukwonago (21-4) Saturday in search of its 10th straight trip to state.

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Climb of the Cards continues

SUN PRAIRIE — For months now, people have been talking about the potential greatness of next year's Middleton boys basketball team.

The Cardinals appreciated the compliment, except for one thing.

“That’s all great,” junior forward Max Oelerich said. “But we know that nothing’s guaranteed. So we’re talking about now.”

And playing for today, as well.

Last Saturday, Middleton showed that its present might be as promising as its future. Fourth-seeded Middleton went into top-seeded Sun Prairie and played arguably its best game of the year in a WIAA Division 1 regional final.

Middleton’s gritty-gutty point guard Luke Schafer had 21 points, junior guard Derek Rongstad added 15, and the visitors held off a late Sun Prairie surge to notch a thrilling 75-64 win.

“You never know what will happen between now and next year,” Rongstad said. “Nothing is ever guaranteed.

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Cain exits in style

It was Saturday morning, and Jake Cain’s dream of becoming a state champion had ended.

Middleton’s standout wrestler had dropped a heartbreaker to Bay Port’s Alex Blaney in the WIAA Division 1 state semifinals just 15 hours earlier.

But the 138-pound Cain did what he always does. He put on his hard hat, went back to work and wrestled his tail off.

Cain returned to the UW Kohl Center Saturday, won a pair of matches, and notched third place. That was the highest finish at state by a Middleton wrestler since Ben Brummel won a state title in 2009.

“I mean, sure, I was really bummed about not being able to achieve my goal,” Cain said of missing out on a state title. “But when Saturday rolled around, I tried not to think about it as much. I knew I could still get third and I wanted to finish the season on a high note.”

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Middleton gymnasts head back to state


WAUNAKEE — Bianca Bakkar woke at the crack of dawn last Saturday.

Middleton’s standout senior gymnast tried going back to sleep. But Bakkar couldn’t stop thinking about the looming Waunakee Sectional, and how it could be the final meet of her stellar career.

“I tried to sleep, but I just couldn’t,” Bakkar said. “I was really nervous.”
All the uneasiness was for naught.

Bakkar had her best performance in more than three years, junior Aryn Skibba continued her brilliant season and Middleton rolled to the sectional title.

The Cardinals posted a team score of 140.475 to easily outdistance Verona/Madison Edgewood (138.525) for the sectional championship.

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Girls basetball team seeks consistency

By now, Jeff Kind didn’t expect to be talking about consistency.

Middleton’s girls basketball coach didn’t think he’d be discussing steadiness and stability.

But the way Kind sees things, it is what it is.

“It’s been a consistency thing for us all year long,” Kind said. “There are times we play well, and then there are times you just wonder.”

Perhaps it’s too much to ask after such an uneven season. But Kind is hoping his team can get hot and string together a handful of solid games this postseason.

Middleton begins the playoffs Friday when it travels to Madison West for a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal at 7 p.m. The winner of that game faces either Madison La Follette or Madison Memorial Saturday at 7 p.m. in a regional final.

“This is a real good bunch of kids and they keep working hard,” Kind said. “We just haven’t developed a real toughness to us yet. That’s where the consistency comes from.

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FLASHBACK: Looking back on Middleton's last win over Madison Memorial

Editor's Note: This story originally ran in the Middleton Times-Tribune on Feb. 10, 2005. It chronicles Middleton's last win over Madison Memorial in boys basketball. The Cardinals and Spartans meet in a sectional semifinal Thursday at 7 p.m. in Watertown.


For weeks, people have looked at the Big Eight Conference race and the road to the state tournament as foregone conclusions.

To many, Madison Memorial was a virtual lock. And everyone else was playing for second.

Not so fast folks.

Last Thursday night, Middleton showed the Spartans are most certainly vulnerable. And in the process, the Cardinals showed they’re a legitimate contender to make a run at state themselves.

Middleton went to Memorial and played its finest game in years. The Cardinals shot the lights out, defended with authority and stunned the host Spartans, 74-61.

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Middleton hoping to slay mighty Memorial

SUN PRAIRIE — The parallels are downright eerie.

Middleton’s boys basketball lost twice to Sun Prairie this regular season, including once when a buzzer-beater broke the Cardinals’ collective hearts. But with the stakes highest last Saturday night, Middleton drubbed Sun Prairie, 75-64, in a WIAA Division 1 regional final.

Middleton also lost twice this regular season to Madison Memorial, the final time coming on a dramatic buzzer-beater. But like it did against Sun Prairie, Middleton has a chance to prove the third time is the charm.

Middleton and Madison Memorial will meet in a sectional semifinal Thursday in Watertown at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the sectional final Saturday at 1 p.m. in Sun Prairie.

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Schafer's heroics help Middleton top West

Derek Rongstad fully expected the pass.

Madison West thought it was going Rongstad’s way, as well.

But Luke Schafer was a master of deception last Friday night.

In a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal against the visiting Regents, Schafer pulled a Houdini act at the most opportune of times.

With Middleton clinging to a 40-37 lead, Schafer faked a handoff to Rongstad. Two Regents followed Rongstad, leaving Schafer a clear lane to the basket.

Middleton’s junior point guard drove from the left wing, attacked the rim and hit a high-arching left-handed lay-up. Schafer was also clobbered by West’s Travis Kell, and when he converted the three-point play with 1:24 left, Middleton was on its way to a hard fought 46-42 win.

The Cardinals improved to 13-10, while West ended its year 8-15.

“They were anticipating that bounce back pass,” Schafer said. “So I knew they were going to try and get that steal.

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Middleton takes aim at Sun Prairie

Just 11 days ago, Sun Prairie broke the collective hearts of Middleton’s boys basketball team.

Middleton will gun for revenge Saturday night when it travels to Sun Prairie for a WIAA Division 1 regional final at 7 p.m.

Sun Prairie (20-3) is the regional’s top-seed and shared the Big Eight Conference title. Middleton (13-10) is the No. 4 seed and tied for third in the league.

“We have nothing to lose and they have everything to lose,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “I like that position.

“All the pressure should be on them. Our guys should be able to come out and play loose.”

Middleton reached the regional finals after edging Madison West, 46-42, in a regional semifinal Friday night. Junior guard Luke Schafer had 16 points, including a clutch three-point play late to seal the win. Junior guard Derek Rongstad added 12 and senior forward Tyler Markel had two huge second half three-pointers.


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