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No time like the present for girls spikers

Ben White knows the importance of time more than most.

White was diagnosed with lymphoma back in Sept., 2019, but overcame his cancer and remains in remission today.

White knows, though, that time is always of the essence.

So when White — who agreed to become Middleton’s girls volleyball coach in March — is asked if 2023 is a rebuilding year for the Cardinals, he scoffs.

“In high school you don't have time to rebuild,” said White, who previously coached Middleton’s boys volleyball team for 19 years. “That's not fair to the girls that are seniors and only have one year with our coaching staff.

“Our seniors will be the leaders and help us build this program into what we want. There was a lot of success last year and they had an amazing year, but we have a whole new group out on the court so that will be fun for all involved.”

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Middleton swimmers roll past Memorial

It’s been said first impressions are the most lasting.

If that holds true for Middleton’s girls swimming team, it could be a big year for the Cardinals.

Middleton won 10 of 12 events and cruised past Madison Memorial, 137-49, last Friday in its 2023 season opener.

“Our team had a very strong start to the season vs. Memorial,” Middleton coach R.J. Leiferman said. “We have a lot to feel good about as we go into the next few weeks.”

Middleton swept all three relays.

The quartet of Lily Mair, Rian Jost, Isabell Frommelt and Sulia Miller finished first in the 200-yard medley relay, while the foursome of Irene Lee, Hannah Machleidt, Brynn Sundell and Anna Dart was second.

Middleton’s 200-yard freestyle relay team of Miller, Tait Haag, Audrey Alexander and Piper Garcia Hall was first, while Jost, Clara Kiehl, Dart and Frommelt were second.

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Falk, Middleton run past Bay Port

SUAMICO — Visions of Bay Port Stadium have given Bryce Falk nightmares the last two years.

Falk, Middleton’s standout senior running back and the Big Eight Conference’s reigning ‘Back of the Year’, had brilliant seasons with the Cardinals in 2021 and 2022. But Falk was still bothered by his varsity debut at Bay Port, when he fumbled a late kickoff that led to a Pirates’ touchdown and an eventual win.

“It didn’t end well for me sophomore year when I was here,” Falk said. “I took it a bit personal.”

He sure did.

And on Aug. 17, Bay Port paid the price.

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Fab Five: Offensive line will lead Middleton's attack

In the 1980s, the Washington Redskins powerful offensive line was given the nickname ‘The Hogs.’

A decade earlier, Buffalo’s sensational offensive line earned the nickname ‘The Electric Compa-ny’ for its ability to turn on the juice.

Middleton’s offensive line doesn’t have a nickname right now. Don’t be surprised if that changes, though, by the end of the 2023 campaign.

On a roster packed with stars, Middleton’s line could eventually shine the brightest. And as the Cardinals try making their first trip to the state finals at Camp Randall Stadium since 1987, it could be the offensive line that paves the way.

“Every line has its own stamp on my heart,” said Middleton co-interim head coach Joe Poehls, who also coaches the offensive line. “But this one could be really special.”


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Middleton's defense hopes to dominate

Middleton senior tackle Hudson Cleary believes the Cardinals could have one of the better offenses in the state this fall.

Star running back Bryce Falk feels the same.

Two weeks into practice, though, Middleton’s offense was having its trouble. And there was one reason why.

“Our defense has been pretty dominant,” Cleary said. “They look great.”

Falk felt the same.

“The defense is looking really good,” said Falk, the Big Eight Conference’s Running Back of the Year in 2022. “It’s tough to compete against our defense.”

Middleton’s early offensive struggles have far less to do with that unit. Instead, it has everything to do with the Cardinals’ defense.

Middleton brings back four all-Big Eight Conference players, several key contributors from last season and others that have been patiently waiting their turn.

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Middleton hopes third time's the charm vs. Bay Port

TOWN OF MERTON — Twenty four months ago, Middleton traveled to Bay Port and led the Pirates, 14-6, after three quarters of its season opener. Host Bay Port answered with 20 straight fourth quarter points, though, and rallied past the Cardinals, 26-14.

One year ago, the same teams opened their seasons in Middleton and the results were similar. Bay Port dominated on both sides of the ball, outgained the host Cardinals, 487-232, and toppled MHS, 38-21.

Now, Middleton is hoping the latest chapter in this trilogy will have a much different ending.

The Cardinals travel to Bay Port Thursday at 7 p.m. hoping to get a modicum of revenge. That won’t be easy, though, as the Pirates are 22-3 over the last two seasons and are once again expected to be one of the elite teams in the state.

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The summer of Will

Twelve months ago, Will Garlock could have left his cell phone on in church — or the library — and it probably wouldn’t have mattered much.

Oh sure, the Middleton High School junior-to-be got his share of calls and texts from buddies and family members.

But colleges? To them, Garlock was the Invisible Man.

“I didn’t get a single call last summer,” Garlock said. “Not one.”

Boy, how things have changed.

These days, Garlock — who has grown to nearly 7-feet tall — better have his phone muted when he walks into a movie theater. That’s because Garlock’s stock has skied and the interest from colleges has reached a fevered pitch over the last few months.

Since Middleton’s season ended in March, Garlock has received offers from Wisconsin, Marquette, Virginia Tech and Penn State. Garlock has also received interest from schools such as Purdue, Michigan State, Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Belmont.

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Raffel hangs up his clipboard

John Boyle was fishing for a compliment.

Little did he know, that plan was about to blow up in his face.

Boyle, Middleton’s boys basketball coach from 1991-2006, recently asked his sons Danny and Tone who their favorite coach was during their time at MHS.

In unison, the Boyle brothers both said, “Raf.”

“They didn’t take long with their answer,” John Boyle said. “They just spit it right out. I was like ‘thanks guys.’ ”

Boyle shouldn’t feel too bad. A large number of players that passed through MHS the past three-plus decades would probably have the same answer.

Unfortunately for MHS, though, Raffel recently told Middleton head coach Kevin Bavery he won’t return next season. Raffel — who worked for the Middleton Police Department for 28 years — also retired from his campus support position at MHS.

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MHS golfers swing for greatness again

When you saw them last, Middleton’s girls golf team was doing what they do virtually every fall.

Chase a state championship.

The Cardinals had a memorable two-day performance at University Ridge and finished second at the WIAA Division 1 state meet. That marked the ninth time in Becky Halverson’s 10 years as Middleton’s coach that her Cardinals had a top-three finish at state.

Barring anything unforeseen, it should be more of the same this season.

Middleton returns four of its top six players from that team, including senior Vivian Cressman, who figures to be one of the state’s elite players. Halverson’s deep program always has potential contributors waiting in the wings.

And if everything goes according to plan, Middleton should be back in the state title hunt once again.

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Football Cardinals happy to turn the page

The Grateful Dead probably said it best

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.

That’s certainly how Middleton co-football coaches Tim Simon and Joe Poehls, and the rest of the Cardinals have felt since the 2022 season ended.

The past nine months have felt like nine years — or maybe 90.

But the Cardinals were back at it Tuesday morning — and again that afternoon — as the 2023 campaign began.

In the rearview mirror was a bullying scandal, a coaching change and more drama than any show you’ll find on Netflix.

In front of these Cardinals is a clean slate, a fresh start and the hope that comes with a new season.

“We all know the truth and we all love each other and everyone treats each other good,” said Middleton senior outside linebacker Sam Pilof, a Rutgers recruit. “So it was just really good to get out here and compete. It was good. It just felt really, really good.”


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