Sports

Thu
08
Jun
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Middleton duo fourth at state

MADISON — A spot on the podium — and medals for both of them — was at stake.

Lose this match, and that accomplishment was not guaranteed.

Middleton's Jonathan Kim and Neel Mukherjee answered the bell.

In more ways than one, in fact.

The seniors, seeded second in the 64-team doubles draw of the WIAA Division 1 boys state tennis tournament held at Nielsen Tennis Stadium last weekend, got knocked around at times in their quarterfinal match against a Brookfield Central duo. But Kim and Mukherjee always punched back and defeated the seventh-seeded team of Aaditya Tiwari and Gabe Weitzer, 6-4, 6-2.

Kim and Mukherjee went on to suffer a 6-3, 6-4 loss to the third-seeded team of Chatton Haws and Keenan Haws from Cedarburg in Saturday's semifinals. Glendale Nicolet's top-seeded tandem of Alex Aranda and Henry Vizgaitis then toppled Middleton’s No. 1 duo, 4-6, 6-2, 10-3, in the third place match.

Tue
06
Jun
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Baseball Cards are headed to state

LACROSSE — Of all the terrific Middleton baseball teams in recent years — and there have been plenty — this wasn’t the one expected to break the drought.

There was just one starter back from the 2022 team that reached the sectional semifinals. There were no proven commodities on the mound. And as skipper Brent Jorgensen examined his roster back in March, he was left with a bevy of questions and very few answers.

Yet there were the 2023 Cardinals dancing, laughing, smiling and embracing one another at beautiful Copeland Park on Tuesday evening. This team that few thought would excel three short months ago continued a season that’s been surprising, rewarding and exhilarating.

Middleton toppled Verona, 3-1, in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final and earned the school’s first trip to the state tournament since 2016. The Cardinals, who were seeded fourth in their sectional, improved to 22-8 and continued their stunning postseason run.

Tue
06
Jun
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Baseball Cards just one win from state

LA CROSSE — From the time Brent Jorgensen passed out uniforms this spring, Middleton’s manager knew there was a formula that would allow his Cardinals have a big year.

Middleton wasn’t blessed with big boppers or dominant arms. So the Cardinals’ path to success involved small ball, great defense and never flinching in tight games.

Now, that recipe has Middleton one game from state.

The Cardinals defeated Sun Prairie West, 4-3, in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal Tuesday at Copeland Park in La Crosse. Middleton improved to 21-8 overall and moved within one game of its first state tournament since 2016.

“The guys work so hard. They put in a lot,” Jorgensen said. “They do all those small things that make a difference in the game, things that people watching the game don't always see or understand. They do all those small things and it makes a difference.”

Sacrifice flies. Bunting. Moving runners over. And high-level fielding.

Tue
06
Jun
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Soccer Cards ousted by Verona

Gutted.

As Middleton girls soccer coach Mary Duffy fought through the tears, that word perfectly encapsulated how she and her Cardinals were feeling.

Middleton and host Verona played to a scoreless tie in their WIAA Division 1 regional final last Saturday. And after a pair of scoreless overtimes, the rivals went to penalty kicks to decide the match.

After Middleton converted its first three PKs, though, it missed on its final two attempts. And that allowed the Wildcats to escape with a 4-3 win on penalty kicks.

“I know we should have put a goal away before PKs and I know that ‘should have’ doesn't count,” Duffy said. “But reviewing how the night went on, I firmly believe that Verona got lucky. 

“I also know that saying that isn't really helpful to ease the pain of losing. But dang … it was a difficult loss. I think most of us feel gutted, especially since we outplayed them in the second half and had some of the best chances then.”

Sat
03
Jun
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Baseball Cards win regional title

It was a repeat of an earlier pitcher’s duel, but Middleton made sure it came out on top this time.

Senior right-hander Jacob Guerrero scattered four hits in tossing his third complete game of the season as host Middleton rallied for a 4-2 victory over Madison West in a WIAA Division 1 regional championship game on June 1.

Guerrero said the Cardinals’ success in late-season victories over Big Eight Conference rivals Janesville Craig and Verona played a key role in helping Middleton storm back from an early deficit.

“We were so locked in for all those games. We felt like we’ve been in the playoffs for the last three weeks,” Guerrero said. “So we’re ready for it now that it’s here.”

Middleton (19-8), which earned a No. 4 seed in the WIAA Division 1 La Crosse Central Sectional, advanced to play eighth-seeded Sun Prairie West, a 9-8 winner over Sun Prairie East, in a sectional semifinal game at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

Sat
03
Jun
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Middleton rallies past La Follette

Brent Jorgensen might be too young to remember Jim Valvano.

But he knows that “survive and advance” — the motto that brought the former North Carolina State men’s basketball coach to prominence — is just as true today as it was 40 years ago when the Wolfpack won the national championship.

So after Middleton edged Madison La Follette, 5-4, in 10 innings in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal on May 30, Jorgensen wasn’t focused on what went wrong. Instead, the Cardinals’ manager was just thrilled his team was still playing.

“It doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you move on,” Jorgensen said.

Moving on certainly wasn’t easy.

Middleton built a 4-0 lead through four innings, then saw the Lancers rally and force extra innings. But the Cardinals won it in the 10th when pinch runner Biagio Gargano scored on a wild pitch.

Thu
01
Jun
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Middleton boys tennis coach fired after angering 'the wrong parent'

Middleton’s boys tennis team is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state.

The Cardinals are heavy favorites to win the first state championship in school history.

But head coach Henry Johnson — who led Middleton to a 19-0 start — won’t be along for the rest of the journey.

Johnson was fired on May 22 after angering what he said was “the wrong parent.”

Johnson sat one of Middleton’s doubles players at the Big Eight Conference meet on May 17-18 because that player had called two of his teammates “scum bags” at practice the previous week. The disciplinary action was for the conference meet only.

That decision started a chain of events in which athletic director Jamie Sims added MHS girls coach Matt Given and former boys coach Tony Mirasola to Johnson’s staff. Johnson says when he voiced concern over that plan, and told Sims he didn’t feel supported, he was terminated.

Thu
01
Jun
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Patenaude steals the show

PRAIRIE DU SAC – Finn Patenaude was on a mission.

Nothing could stop the Middleton senior, who nearly had a perfect evening, sweeping both hurdles titles and running a leg on the Cardinals’ runner-up 1,600-meter relay at the WIAA Division 1 sectional track and field meet at Sauk Prairie’s Eagles Stadium last Thursday.

Middleton nearly captured the sectional team title as well, coming up one point short with 85 points behind La Crosse Central’s 86 points, which drew a sigh of disappointment from Patenaude.

“We lost by a point, dang it,” Patenaude exclaimed. “But I’m going to state in three events. I knew it would happen.”

The top three finishers in each event advanced to the WIAA Division 1 state meet, which will be held June 2-3 at Veterans’ Memorial Stadium in La Crosse.

Thu
01
Jun
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Distance stars power girls’ track team

PRAIRIE DU SAC – Senior Zaira Malloy-Salgado crossed the finish line at Sauk Prairie’s Eagles’ Stadium last Thursday night, using a strong kick to win the 1,600-meter run at the WIAA Division 1 Sauk Prairie Sectional.

Nearly 90 minutes later, Malloy-Salgado finished second to freshman teammate Olivia Chellevold in the 3,200, literally passing the baton to the next generation of elite Cardinals’ distance runners.

Following the race, it was quickly obvious there was a mutual admiration society and a true friendship between the elite distance runners representing the past, present and future at Middleton.

“Honestly, it’s been so inspiring, and she’s helped me so much during races,” Malloy-Salgado said of Chellevold. “It’s great to see where the future of the Middleton track and cross country program is going, and to know it is in good hands and fast hands, of course.”

Thu
01
Jun
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Softball Cards fall in regional finals

The rivalry has always been intense.

The last three postseasons, it’s simply grown.

The softball teams from Middleton and Verona have met in each of the last three postseasons. And after splitting the last two years, the Wildcats got the upper hand this season.

In a WIAA Division 1 regional final on May 25, host Verona jumped out to a 3-0, held off a Middleton rally and edged the Cardinals, 4-2.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats advanced to face top-seeded Sun Prairie East in a sectional semifinal that was played Tuesday. Fifth-seeded Middleton finished the year 18-10.

“We have now faced Verona in each of the last three postseasons,” said Middleton coach Brittany Carl, whose team lost to Verona in 2021 and downed the Wildcats in 2022. “A lot of credit to (Verona coach) Todd Anderson.

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