Sports

Thu
29
Aug
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Football Cardinals off and running

MADISON — The moment he plucked the short screen pass from the sky and spun around last Friday night, Middleton senior tailback Kallion Buckner had a pretty good idea six points were about to be added to the scoreboard — even though he was standing just inside midfield.

Three of his giant offensive linemen were already picking up steam ready to devour blockers in front of him. He had a fresh pair of cleats attached to his speedy feet. And there was plenty of open field to show off his skills.

“If they’re there it’s a touchdown every time,” Buckner said of his highly-touted linemen, who on this play were Billy Johnson, Clay Craker and Taylor Simmons. “Whenever I see them, I feel so protected. Untouchable.”

Thu
29
Aug
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Boys spikers, Van Buren thinking big

Two years ago, few people in the volleyball world knew the name Parker Van Buren.

A Middleton sophomore at the time, Van Buren was a bit player for the 2017 Cardinals. He was green as grass. And at 6-foot-3, he hadn’t finished growing.

Today, Van Buren just might be the frontrunner to win Player of the Year honors in the state. And he’s the No. 1 reason why Middleton stands a terrific chance to win its first state tournament match since 2008.

The Cardinals opened their new season Tuesday at the Muskego Quadrangular. And the growth of Van Buren, now a 6-foot-7 senior outside hitter, has everyone in the program buzzing.

“He has the chance to be the most dominant player we've had at Middleton,” said Cardinals coach Ben White. “His size and the position he plays — outside — make him such a tough match-up.

Thu
29
Aug
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MHS boys soccer team aiming high

Overlooked.

Disregarded.

Unnoticed.

Middleton’s boys soccer coach Ben Kollasch believes that all of those could apply to his team — at least early on this season. The Cardinals went just 10-8-2 a year ago, then lost four all-conference players to graduation.

But after watching tryouts, Kollasch believes his Cardinals could be one of the surprise teams in the area this fall.

Middleton takes aim at that goal beginning Thursday, when it opens the year against New Berlin Eisenhower at the Brookfield East Invite.

“The challenge of this team is not the talent,” Kollasch said. “This team has as much talent as any Middleton team in memory.

Thu
29
Aug
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Middleton's girls spikers hope to surprise

Brash. Bold. Bombastic.

This is how many people view Middleton girls volleyball coach Franco Marcos — who is never shy singing the praises of his team.

This year, though, Marcos has toned down the noise ever so slightly.

“Yes, it is a rebuilding year,” said Marcos, whose team began its season at the 20-team Onalaska Tournament on Wednesday. “I guess you never thought you would hear that coming from me. But it will be a sweet rebuilding year.”

Middleton went 32-17 overall last year, finished fourth in the Big Eight Conference at 6-3, then fell to Holmen in a WIAA Division 1 regional final. That team was senior dominated, though, and now Middleton has several holes to fill.

Middleton doesn't have a great deal of experience back. But Marcos will lean heavily on the few veterans he does have.

Junior libero Jada Cerniglia will be a key cog for the Cardinals.

Thu
22
Aug
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Middleton's new era begins

Billy Johnson’s goals were summed up in one quick word.

“Dominate,” Middleton’s all-Big Eight Conference right tackle said.

Clay Craker, the Cardinals’ center, had a similar take.

“We’re going balls to the wall,” Craker said. “The whole group. Our main goal this year is to dominate.”

Middleton, which is coming off a frustrating 6-4 campaign that included a fourth-place finish in the Big Eight Conference, begins its new season at Madison East Friday at 7 p.m. And the Cardinals’ greatest hope for improvement is centered around an offensive line that could be sensational.

Jason Pertzborn, a longtime assistant at MHS who takes over the head coaching duties this year, knows the Cardinals’ path to greatness could come from their ‘Fab Five’ up front and standout running back Kallion Buckner.

Thu
22
Aug
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Middleton swimmers are chasing history

This marks the 50th year that girls swimming has been a WIAA sport.

In that time, there have been just four occasions where a school has won at least four straight state championships. Amazingly, Madison West did it three times (1980-’83, 1989-’92 and 1995-’98) and Hartland Arrowhead did it once (2002-’06).

Middleton could join that elite club this season.

The Cardinals have won three straight state championships, including an inspiring performance last year in which they ran away from the field despite having a top-rated relay team disqualified at sectionals. Now, with a sensational group of returnees, a handful of improved swimmers and a gifted group of newcomers, Middleton is set to take aim at a fourth straight state championship.

The Cardinals open their 2019 season at Madison East Friday at 5 p.m.

Thu
22
Aug
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Middleton's girls tennis team ready to roll

When Terry Geurkink saw the opening, he had his résumé ready faster than a Serena Williams forehand.

And why not?

Middleton’s girls’ tennis program has everything a head coach could want, from talent, to tradition to support from the administration. So when Guerkink was recently named the Cardinals’ new head coach, naturally, he was elated.

“The Middleton girls’ tennis varsity coaching position was appealing to me because of the challenge of coaching a traditionally successful program, and the challenge of coaching in the highly competitive Big Eight Conference,” said Guerkink, whose team began its new season Monday at the La Crosse Central Invite.

For the most part, Middleton has met that challenge through the years.

The Cardinals have been to the WIAA Division 1 state team tournament seven times since 2006, highlighted by a state title in 2013. Middleton hasn’t been to state since 2014, though, and would like to change that this fall.

Wed
14
Aug
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Middleton golfers have great expectations

Great expectations are an annual event inside Middleton’s girls golf program. Delivering on those hopes has never been a problem.

The Cardinals have reached the WIAA Division 1 state tournament 19 times in the last 22 years. And in that time, Middleton won state championships in both 2009 and 2015, and finished second six times — including last year.

It’s safe to say the prospects for greatness are as high as ever this fall. And Middleton fully expects to make a run at greatness once again.

The Cardinals return their top four golfers from last year’s team that had a magical performance at state. That team had the best second-day score and out a scare into champion Kettle Moraine before eventually settling for second place.

Now, with the majority of last year’s group back, the Cardinals know a state title in certainly possible this fall.

Tue
13
Aug
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Middleton tabs Carl to lead softball program

When the call came in, Brittany Carl pumped her fist a few times.

She immediately called her own father, Scott Hammer, to share the news.

And that was enough celebrating. There was work to do.

Carl was named Middleton’s new girls softball coach last week. Carl replaces Perry Hibner, who stepped down at the end of the 2019 season due to the demands of his job as Director of Communications for the Middleton-Cross Plain Area School District.

Carl, who played collegiately at Seton Hall and has coached at various levels the last six years, was an assistant at MHS last season. And when Cardinals’ athletic director Bob Joers picked Carl from the four candidates, she was both giddy and humbled.

Tue
16
Jul
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Middleton's top girls' performances of 2018-'19

It was another sensational year for the sports teams at Middleton High School, where the Cardinals remained a model of consistency both in the Big Eight Conference and across the state.

Of course, some achievements rank as the best of the best. Here’s one person’s opinion of that list.

Last week we handed out the boys’ awards. This week we recognize the top girls.

Team of the year: Swimming

Middleton’s run of greatness continues to grow.

The Cardinals won their third consecutive WIAA Division 1 state swimming and diving championship last November.

Middleton finished with 249.50 points – 61.5 points ahead of second-place Cedarburg with 188. Sun Prairie finished third with 170 points and Verona /Mount Horeb took fourth with 169 points.

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