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Metro Lynx headed to state

The Middleton co-op girls hockey team has made history.

The Metro Lynx — made up of girls from Middleton, Madison Memorial, Madison West, Madison Edgewood and Verona — reached the WIAA girls state hockey tournament for the first time in program history. The Metro Lynx defeated the Cap City Cougars, 3-0, in a WIAA sectional final held at the Sun Prairie Ice Arena last Friday.

Middleton is now the No. 1 seed at the state tournament and will play the fourth-seeded Beloit Memorial co-op Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum-Alliant Energy Center.

If the Metro Lynx wins there, it would advance to the state championship game Saturday at noon at the Alliant Energy Center.

“The girls have played really hard this season and have accomplished quite a bit thus far,” Lynx coach Mike McKersie said.

It’s been a historic season for the Lynx, and among their accomplishments are:

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Boys basketball team hopes to surprise

For the past four months, Middleton’s boys basketball team has spent most of its time battling the heavyweights inside the Big Eight Conference.

While the Cardinals’ WIAA Division 1 first round playoff matchup is a tough one, Middleton head coach Kevin Bavery is excited to see someone from outside the Big Eight.

The 11th-seeded Cardinals travel to sixth-seeded Oconomowoc Friday at 7 p.m. for a regional semifinal. If Middleton wins there, it would meet either third-seeded Madison Memorial or 14th-seeded Verona in a regional final Saturday night.

“We'll have our hands full, but we really like our matchups and the fact that we are playing someone from outside the Big Eight in the tournament opener,” Bavery said.

That certainly won’t be easy.

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Gymnasts fall short at sectionals

This wasn’t the result anyone expected.

And it certainly wasn’t the ending anyone was predicting.

Middleton’s girls gymnastics team finished third at its own WIAA Division 1 sectional last Saturday and failed to qualify for the state tournament for the first time in nine years. The top two teams at sectionals advance to state.

Madison Memorial won the nine-team sectional with a 138.375 team score, while Verona/Madison Edgewood was second (137.30) and Middleton was third (136.050).

“The girls were obviously disappointed after sectionals,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said. “It's the first time MHS hasn't qualified in nine years. However, the girls had a great season and a lot to be proud of, so we tried to stress that to all of them.”

The season isn't over for two Cardinals, however.

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Former hockey coach puts blame on MHS

Accountability and responsibility.

Steffon Walby wanted little part of either.

Walby, Middleton’s former boys hockey coach, sent a 1,001-word letter to several people in the district Friday claiming, “rumors, falsehoods and confusion” led to him and MHS eventually agreeing to “part ways.”

Middleton was disqualified from the postseason after using ineligible senior forward Joe O’Reilly in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal game on Feb. 18. That led to an investigation that showed O’Reilly had been ruled ineligible in Oct., 2019, meaning Middleton will likely have to forfeit all of its victories from 2019-’20.

The Times-Tribune first reported the story on Feb. 20.

Walby, though, claimed ignorance when it came to O’Reilly’s eligibility.

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Middleton, Walby agree to "part ways"

Middleton High School and boys hockey coach Steffon Walby have agreed to “part ways" following the use of an ineligible player.

Middleton asked the WIAA for an eligibility waiver for senior forward Joe O’Reilly in Oct., 2019, but that request was denied. But Walby played O’Reilly in 23 games, and he finished as the Cardinals’ third-leading scorer.

The WIAA received an anonymous tip about O'Reilly on Feb. 19, less than 24 hours after Middleton defeated Tomah/Sparta in its playoff opener. The Cardinals were then stripped of their playoff win, and Tomah/Sparta replaced Middleton in the regional final against Sun Prairie.

The Cardinals, who went 14-10 during the regular season, are also likely to be stripped of all their other wins.

After a week-long investigation, district administrators and Walby determined it was best for the program to start fresh.

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Middleton girls win Big 8 title

No. 11 was a tough one.

When Middleton’s girls basketball team lost to Madison Memorial back in December, Cardinals’ boss Jeff Kind knew his team might have to be flawless the rest of the year to win at least a share of the Big Eight Conference title.

They were.

Middleton notched two more league wins last week and grabbed a share of the conference title with Madison Memorial. Both the Cardinals and Spartans went 17-1 in the conference.

It marked Middleton’s 11th conference title since Kind took over in 1992, and all have come since the 2006-’07 season.

“It’s been a long, tough road to earn a share of the conference championship with Memorial, knowing we had to win every game since that first loss to Memorial,” said Kind, whose team is currently 21-1 overall and ranked No. 1 in the state. “I’m very proud of the way the girls were able to answer the bell every night.”

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Bavery notches 400th win

The ball hasn’t gone in the basket as much this season.

The defense hasn’t been as stingy.

The wins have come with less frequency.

But for one glorious stretch on Feb. 19, everything came together for Middleton’s boys basketball team. And in the process, Cardinals’ head coach Kevin Bavery notched a historic win.

Middleton finished its game against visiting Janesville Craig on a 17-0 run and rallied for an improbable 71-68 win. It was the 400th victory of Bavery’s career, with 196 of those wins coming at Middleton.

“It’s a sign of longevity and having a great staff,” Bavery said of winning his 400th game. “If you’re going to (coach) this long, you’ve got to love the game, which I obviously do.

“What stands out more than anything, though, are the relationships. You don't forget those.”

It’s a good bet that Bavery and his team won't forget win No. 400 either.

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MHS administrators determining Walby's fate

For now, Steffon Walby is still Middleton’s hockey coach.

Whether that’s still the case in a day or two remains to be seen.

Wably met Wednesday at 8 a.m. with administrators from the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District about the hockey scandal that caused the Cardinals to be thrown out of the playoffs last week. Middleton athletic director Bob Joers had a separate meeting with district administrators that began at 10:30 a.m.

Afterwards, the powers-that-be at MHS weren’t ready to make an announcement regarding Walby’s future.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” said Director of Communications Perry Hibner. “We have some more interviews to conduct.”

Multiple sources told the Times-Tribune last week that Walby knowingly played senior forward Joe O’Reilly throughout the season, even though the WIAA determined that O’Reilly was ineligible.

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Middleton swimmers win state title

On the cusp of a state title, Middleton coach Danny Lynam knew just what to do.

He leaned on his seniors to bring it home.

And did they ever.

The senior pair of Nathan Kim and Forrest Peterson helped Middleton capture its first-ever WIAA Division 1 state swimming and diving championship in dramatic fashion with a second-place finish in the meet’s final event — the 400-yard freestyle — at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium Saturday.

Middleton had finished second at state the last two years, but brought home gold this winter.

“I’m speechless, I really didn’t think this could ever happen,” Kim said. “Two second place finishes over the years and finally on top. There’s no better way. I can’t believe we did it.”

The Cardinals finished first with 228 points to edge heavily favored Waukesha South/Catholic Memorial with 222 points. Sun Prairie was third with 197 points followed by Madison West (180) and Eau Claire Memorial/North (167).

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Sources: Middleton knew hockey player was ineligible

Middleton’s hockey program applied for an eligibility waiver for senior forward Joe O'Reilly in October, 2019. The WIAA denied the Cardinals’ request, but Middleton coach Steffon Walby played O'Reilly throughout the season anyway.

That approach eventually caused Middleton to forfeit its win over Tomah/Sparta in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal game on Feb. 18. The Cardinals, who went 14-10 during the regular season, will likely be stripped of all their other wins, as well.

Multiple sources confirmed these details to the Times-Tribune in the past week.

“It was a pretty cut and dried eligibility case,” said one source, who requested anonymity. “They were told not to play him and they went ahead and played him anyhow.”


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