Sports

Thu
02
Jan
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Middleton’s year in sports

Thrilling victories. Magnificent individual performances. Memories to last a lifetime.

These are the norm inside the remarkably successful sports programs at Middleton High School.

And 2019 was certainly no different.

MHS provided area sports fans with a bevy of highlights this past year. Here’s one person’s view of the top-10.

Stories 6-10 ran last week, while the top five stories are listed here.

 

1. Boys cross country team captures gold

Brian Finnel’s message was simple. Executing it was far more challenging.

Finnel, Middleton’s boys cross country coach, told his team before the WIAA Division 1 state meet on Nov. 2 that everyone had to try performing like they were the Cardinals’ No. 1 runner. Finnel stressed that if they all ran to that level, Middleton could surprise and win a state championship.

Amazingly, that’s exactly what happened.

Fri
27
Dec
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Middleton boys whipped by Memorial

Middleton boys basketball coach Kevin Bavery tried to find the word that best described his team’s most recent game. 

Humbled came to mind. So did embarrassed.

Both were fitting after Bavery watched his Cardinals get routed by Madison Memorial, 88-47, in a lopsided Big Eight Conference game last Friday. 

Middleton fell to 1-2 overall and 1-2 in the Big Eight Conference. The Spartans improved to 2-3 overall, 1-3 in Big Eight.

“It’s hard to say you’re at a crossroads after three games into the season, but that’s where we are,” Bavery said. “Whenever we get beat, we should get beat walking with our heads up, saying ‘you know, that team was just better.’ Memorial was definitely better than we were tonight. Are they 40 points better? We let them be 40 points better.”

Fri
20
Dec
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MHS girls fall to Memorial

MADISON — The pressure came in waves. And like a migraine headache, it never subsided.

Full court traps. Intense ball pressure. And a deep and athletic roster that kept throwing new bodies into the fray.

Madison Memorial’s girls basketball team — ranked No. 2 in the latest wissports.net poll — put the clamps on No. 4 Middleton last Friday. The Spartans forced 27 Middleton turnovers, held the visiting Cardinals to 26.3% shooting and rolled to a 67-51 win in an early-season Big Eight Conference showdown.

Middleton, the defending WIAA Division 1 state runners-up, fell to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the league. The Spartans, who lost to the Cardinals in the sectional finals last year, improved to 4-0, 4-0.

“They play really hard and fast and try getting you to play their pace,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “We just need to be stronger with the ball. That was a huge problem for us.”

Cardinals senior point guard Josie Lemirande agreed.

Fri
20
Dec
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MHS boys knock off Madison West

Win No. 1 is officially in the books.

But it wasn’t easy.

Middleton boys' basketball team entered last Saturday’s game against Madison West seeking their first victory of the year after losing a nailbiter to Verona two nights earlier.

West used a 9-0 run in the second half to get within one possession, but the Cardinals were able to pull away late and beat the Regents, 67-53, in a Big Eight conference game at Middleton.

The Cardinals improved to 1-1, 1-1 in the Big Eight. West fell to 0-4, 0-3 in the Big Eight.

“Thursday was a close one for us, but it feels really good to get that first win under our belt,” Middleton senior Cole Deptula said.

Middleton head coach Kevin Bavery knew that even though West entered the game winless, they couldn’t be overlooked.

Fri
20
Dec
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Three football Cardinals named all-state

Three Middleton football players were recently honored by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association.

Middleton punter Jake Wuebben to the large school all-state team.

Running back Kallion Buckner and center Clay Craker were named honorable-mention all-state.

Wuebben averaged 43.4 yards per punt and banged eight of his 28 punts inside the 20-yard line.

“Many times this year and especially in big games Jake was able to flip the field,” Middleton coach Jason Pertzborn said. “What could have been situations where the opponent gets decent field position, like around midfield, he pushed it further back.

“Jake's hang time on his punts didn't really allow teams to return them. Jake worked hard in and out of season, and it really showed. 

Buckner had one of the finest seasons by a running back in Middleton history, rushing for 1,721 yards and 26 touchdowns. Buckner also had 13 receptions for 214 yards and three TDs.

Fri
13
Dec
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Swimmers set for a big season

These are heady times inside Middleton’s boys swimming and diving program.

The Cardinals are coming off back-to-back second place finishes at the WIAA Division 1 state meet. Middleton returns a terrific nucleus and welcomes a handful of star-studded newcomers this winter.

So as the Cardinals begin their new season, hopes remain high to stay among the state’s elite.

“My goals are to continue staying focused and driven,” Middleton coach Danny Lynam said. “After you have had some success it is easy to get comfortable and take it for granted.

“We can't get over confident and lose the momentum we have built over the years. I think we have to continue to question our training methods and experiment with new ideas so that we can continue to be better than we were the year before.”

Fri
13
Dec
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MHS gymnasts poised for big year

They have been a model of consistency for a quarter century now. And don’t expect anything to change this winter.

Middleton’s girls gymnastics team has qualified for the WIAA Division 1 state meet 22 times since 1995. The Cardinals have been to state eight straight years and 12 of the last 13 seasons.

Middleton begins its new season Dec. 19 at Sun Prairie. And expectations are sky high for another banner year.

“This is the strongest team Middleton has seen since Aryn Skibba's days as a MHS gymnast,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said of Skibba, a 2014 MHS graduate. “I'm excited for this young group to grow as gymnasts.

“We've always had the goal of the girls having a healthy and happy season, and being a family, and that means success for us is more than a state visit. These girls all have a lot going on outside of the gym, so to give them a space where they can just be kids and have fun is something very special.”

Fri
13
Dec
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Middleton girls hold off Verona

On the positive side, it was a victory.

On the downside, there were struggles on both ends of the floor.

As is typical for a game early in the season, Middleton’s girls basketball team had its share of ups and downs before hanging on for a 46-42 victory over rival Verona in a Big Eight Conference contest last Thursday.

“It wasn’t a real good performance,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “We struggled at the line, we struggled shooting threes, we didn’t get the ball inside where we had an advantage, and we turned the ball over too many times.”

Indeed, the numbers were not kind. The Cardinals connected on just 4-of-24 three-pointers (16.7%) and 14-of-51 field goals (27.5%) overall. Middleton also shot just 58.3% (14-of-24) from the free-throw line.

“We were trying to pack it in the post more to get the layup under the basket because our shots weren’t going in and that helped a lot,” senior guard Josie Lemirande said.

Fri
13
Dec
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Middleton's Beckman becomes a Badger

Jacob Beckman can breathe easy now.

It isn’t that Middleton’s standout junior golfer was sweating the college recruiting process. But when Beckman agreed to take his immense skill set to the University of Wisconsin last week, a large load was definitely lifted from his shoulders.

Beckman, the No. 1 rated golfer in the Class of 2021 by Wisconsin.golf, can now spend the next 18 months enjoying his time at Middleton before joining the Badger program.

“Yes, it is a giant relief to have my college plans figured out,” Beckman said. “Now this spring I am completely focused on the high school season and can go out there and just play golf.”

Playing golf has always come naturally for Beckman.

He began playing when he was 3 years old, took quickly to the game, then began making a name for himself in Wisconsin when his family moved to Middleton three years ago.

Thu
05
Dec
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Boys basketball team enters the great unknown

Kevin Bavery is set to begin his 29th season as a boys’ varsity basketball head coach.

The overwhelming majority of that time, Bavery has had a good idea where his team might be headed.

But Bavery — who came to Middleton in 2006 — admits he’s never been more befuddled by a group as he is the 2019-’20 Cardinals.

“Never have I had so little clue as to where we might finish,” Bavery said.

There are plenty of reasons why Bavery is perplexed.

Middleton lost four starters from last year’s team that went 13-10 overall and finished in fifth place in the Big Eight Conference at 10-8. While the Cardinals will be inexperienced, they have a number of interesting pieces that could help them surprise this winter.

Middleton begins its new season by hosting Verona Dec. 12 at 7:15 p.m.

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