Sports

Wed
20
Feb
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Middleton's boys fall twice

This certainly isn’t the way Middleton boys basketball team wanted to enter the postseason.

But in a week mired by a pair of excruciating losses, all was not lost for the Cardinals.

Middleton fell at Big Eight Conference champion Sun Prairie, 72-70, last Tuesday. But the host Cardinals needed a 27-foot three-pointer at the buzzer from Nebraska recruit Nick Fuller just to force overtime.

Middleton then lost at Madison La Follette, 68-63, last Friday in a game that was nip-and-tuck the entire way.

While Middleton enters the postseason on a two-game losing streak, it did go 8-4 down the stretch. The Cardinals also finished the regular season 12-10 overall and tied for third place in the Big Eight at 10-8.

Wed
20
Feb
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MHS gymnasts win Big 8 title

They could have let the unexpected falls break their spirit.

They could have allowed the early setbacks to linger throughout the day.

But that’s not how Middleton’s girls gymnastics team is wired. Not even close.

At the Big Eight Conference meet Saturday at Janesville Craig, Middleton suffered four early falls in the balance beam. Since each fall counts as a deduction of 0.5 points, that set the Cardinals back 2.0 points.

But Middleton rebounded in a big way and battled back to edge Verona/Madison Edgewood for the title, 141.10-140.90.

“I was not expecting that high of a team score,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said. “But I think it shows the girls just what they are capable of.

“After the meet, several girls came up to me and said, ‘If we can get a 141.1 with four beam falls, think of what we can do if we stick our routines!’ It really motivates the girls to know there is room for improvement.”

Wed
20
Feb
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Middleton girls are heating up

 

SUN PRAIRIE — If there was any doubt, Middleton’s girls basketball team erased it last Thursday.

Middleton went to Sun Prairie to face its greatest challenger for the No. 3 seed in the postseason. But Middleton made sure there was little debate and cruised to a 51-40 win.

Middleton junior forward Liz McMahon led the way with 19 points and 14 rebounds. McMahon also played stifling defense on Sun Prairie’s McKayla Yentz, limiting the Marquette recruit to just 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

“I’m really happy,” McMahon said afterwards. “This game was really big for seeding and it was a game we really needed.”

Sun Prairie was Middleton’s greatest challenger for the No. 3 seed in the sectional. But when Middleton defeated Sun Prairie for a second time this year, there was little debate over which team should be the higher seed.

Tue
19
Feb
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Cain takes aim at state wrestling title

Urgency.

If there’s one word that best describes Jake Cain’s mindset this weekend, it’s urgency.

Cain, a senior wrestler at Middleton High School, is back in the WIAA Division 1 state tournament for the third time in his magnificent career.

Cain fully understands, though, that this is his last — and best — chance at a state title. And the 138-pound Cain intends to make the most of his opportunity.

“This being my last season I'm essentially all in,” said Cain, who is 48-1 this season. “I have to win this year. No exceptions. That's not to say that it's going to be easy. At this point everyone is good and nobody can be taken lightly or overlooked.”

Cain qualified for the state tournament after winning his weight class at last Saturday’s Middleton Sectional. Middleton sophomore Shay Haase also finished second at 160 pounds and earned a trip to state.

Tue
19
Feb
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Tardiness costly for MHS' girls basketball team

 

Jeff Kind felt terrible.

Being late isn’t like him. And in one of the rare instances Kind was tardy, it was costly.

Kind, Middleton’s girls basketball coach, thought his postseason seeding meeting Sunday was at 1 p.m. Instead, it was at noon.

So when Kind arrived at 12:50 p.m., the meeting was already wrapping up.

Because Kind was not present when the postseason seeds were being voted on, Middleton is not allowed to host any games at the regional level.

“I feel terrible about it,” Kind said afterwards. “It’s nobody’s fault but my own.”

The good news is Kind’s Cardinals received the No. 3 seed, which is what Middleton expected. The bad news is the Cardinals’ first game — a regional semifinal against sixth-seeded Madison West — will now be at West on March 1 at 7 p.m.

Tue
19
Feb
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Uselman leads MHS swimmers at state

 

MADISON — If competitors weren’t aware of Jackson Uselman’s final kick, they were certainly found out about it at last Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 boys state swimming meet.

Uselman, a senior swimmer for Middleton, surged past the competition to capture the individual title in the 200-yard freestyle. Then, Uselman did it again while taking third in the 500 freestyle.

Uselman’s heroics led Middleton to a fourth-place finish in a meet held at the UW-Natatorium.

Uselman trailed Baileu Biwer of Eau Claire Memorial/North well into the 200 freestyle, but shot past Biwer on the final turn and cruised to victory.

“(Biwer) really took it out fast and I knew if I wanted to have a chance to win it I had to keep up with him,” Uselman said.

Uselman won the race in 1 minute, 41.87 seconds, while Biwer finished a distant second in 1:43.44.

Tue
12
Feb
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Middleton swimmers aiming high

Hope. Optimism. Excitement.

Middleton’s boys swimming team has them all as they prepare for Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state meet. The event begins at 3 p.m. at the UW-Natatorium.

Two-time defending state champion Madison Memorial is the overwhelming favorite. But Middleton, which was fourth at state a year ago, has hopes of bettering that finish.

“I think the team is more than capable of being top three at state,” Cardinals senior Jackson Uselman said. “I think anything can happen, and just because Memorial is the favorite, I don't think that that means we can't do great things as a team. I think that we have a lot of talent on our team and we can do great things.”

Cardinals senior Jack McGovern agreed.

Tue
12
Feb
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Middleton sends 10 wrestlers to sectionals

Jake Cain and Grant Laurent hoisted regional championships.

Eight others advanced to sectionals.

Overall, last Saturday was an awfully good day for Middleton’s wrestlers.

Sauk Prairie won the WIAA Division 1 Waunakee Regional with 239.0 points. But the Cardinals were second with 196.0 points and advanced 10 of their 14 wrestlers to this Saturday’s Middleton Sectional, which begins at 10 a.m.

Middleton was trying to reach the state team tournament for the first time since 1994, but fell just short.

“As a team we tried not to dwell too much on not winning regionals,” said Cain, a senior wrestling at 138 pounds. “We performed well, but just came up a little short when it was over.”

Laurent, a senior wrestling at 152 pounds, agreed.

“It’s too bad the team couldn’t move on to sectionals,” Laurent said. “We brought some good people to the tournament, but Sauk Prairie just outwrestled us.”

Tue
12
Feb
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Middleton's boys basketball team heating up

In the end, their recent hot streak didn’t matter as much as Kevin Bavery had hoped.

Bavery, Middleton’s boys basketball coach, went to his postseason seeding meeting Saturday hoping the Cardinals could land a No. 3 seed. But Bavery and Middleton settled for the No. 4 seed, despite winning six of its last seven games and eight of its last 10.

Middleton opens postseason play by hosting fifth-seeded Madison West on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. in a regional semifinal.

“We felt we should have gotten the No. 3 seed,” Bavery said. “But at some point we know that you have to beat anyone, anywhere, anytime in order to make it all the way.”

Middleton and Madison West split their two games this season, with both schools winning their home games. The Regents most recently upended the Cardinals, 85-72, on Jan. 26.

Tue
12
Feb
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Hockey Cardinals ready for postseason

The road won’t be easy.

Then again, it never is.

But Middleton’s hockey team is ready and excited about their postseason chances.

The Cardinals closed out the regular season with a 4-0 blanking of Madison West last Tuesday. Middleton finished the regular season in second place in the Big Eight Conference at 11-3 and went 17-5 overall.

Now, it’s on to the postseason.

Middleton, the No. 2 seed in its sectional, hosts seventh-seeded Madison Memorial Thursday at 8 p.m. at Capitol Ice Arena in a regional.

If the Cardinals win there, they’ll most likely host third-seeded Madison Edgewood Tuesday in a sectional semifinal at 8 p.m.

“Memorial and Edgewood present unique challenges,” Middleton co-coach Steve Libert said. “Memorial has a line of very talented players, but not much depth. In one and done games they will play those guys a lot of minutes. Edgewood is a balanced and tested team.”

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