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Boys track team shines at state


Andy Keeler had heard the stories.

But Middleton’s junior track and field standout needed to experience the state track meet first-hand to fully understand them.

“People who have competed at state before tell me that the atmosphere of thousands of people watching you and the tough competition make you perform your best,” Keeler said. “And I would completely agree with them.”

With good reason.

During last weekend’s event held at UW-La Crosse, Keeler gave a historic performance.

Keeler cleared 6 feet, 6 inches in the high jump. Not only was that a school record, it was the highlight of a memorable weekend for the Cardinals.

Middleton finished with 14 points, which was good for a 19th place tie. Brookfield East won the title with 51 points, while Green Bay Preble (50), Madison Memorial (40), Kimberly (37) and Brookfield Central (37) rounded out the top five.

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Pyle, Stone shine at state tennis


Griff Pyle and Evan Stone wanted to taste victory.

They wanted to shine on the state’s biggest stage and be at their best when it mattered most.

Mission accomplished.

Pyle and Stone, Middleton’s top doubles team, reached the WIAA Division 1 state meet last week. And the Cardinals’ tandem won their opening match, before falling in the second round.

Ben Luskin, Middleton’s top singles player, also won his opening match before losing in the second round.

“Both played great,” Middleton coach Deke Bradley said. “The doubles fought their butts off, but just couldn't quite get over the hump. They put up a heck of a fight, though. It's nice to see them end the year playing well.”

Pyle and Stone — who entered the tournament with a 14-6 record — played extremely well.

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Ash plays hero for baseball Cards

As the rains poured down, and the baseball field at Middleton High School got soggy Thursday night, Matt Ash never lost focus.

“I just had to stay ready,” the Cardinals’ junior outfielder said.

Ash was definitely ready. And he delivered in a big way.

After a 1 hour, 40 minute rain delay, Middleton loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning in its WIAA Division 1 regional final against Onalaska. Ash then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that scored pinch runner Elliot Tanin and gave the Cardinals a 3-2 win over the Hilltoppers.

Middleton, the No. 3 seed, improved to 17-6, while sixth-seeded Onalaska ended its year 16-9.

“It was a great bunt,” Cardinals senior pitcher Brian Lochner said. “Perfect.”

The ending was perfect for Middleton — even if the journey there was filled with a number of hiccups.

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Boys golfers come up short


Tom Cabalka knows that better days are coming.

That the future is extremely bright for his Middleton boys golf program.

But that didn't make Tuesday any easier.

For the second consecutive year, the Cardinals were in undoubtedly the state’s toughest sectional. And for the second straight year, Middleton fell short of reaching the WIAA Division 1 state tournament.

Middleton finished in sixth place at the Sparta Sectional. Only the top two teams moved onto the state tournament, which will be held Monday and Tuesday at University Ridge.

Middleton also failed to advance any individual qualifiers, meaning the Cardinals’ year ended far too soon for their liking.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” Middleton coach Tom Cabalka said. “They gave it a great run. It’s just such a good sectional.”

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Dean, girls track team off to state

Darcy Dean isn't messing around.

When it comes to the WIAA Division 1 girls state track and field meet, the Middleton standout knows what she wants. And Dean isn't shy about sharing those lofty goals.

“State-wise, I want two podium races,” Dean said of finishing in the top six. “I know both relays are equally capable of running podium times. I'm excited to see what happens, because in La Crosse with such a big atmosphere, you don't have a choice to run slow.”

The Cardinals haven’t run slow all year. And they certainly were in prime form during last Thursday’s Madison Memorial Sectional.

Middleton had three individuals and two relay teams qualify for the state meet, which will be held Friday and Saturday at UW-La Crosse.

Sun Prairie won the sectional with 102.50 points, while Middleton was second at 74.50. La Crosse Logan (61), Madison West (58) and Monona Grove (57) rounded out the top five.

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Harris, boys track team off to state

Steven Harris has had four memorable years inside Middleton’s boys track and field program.

But the 2013 season will undoubtedly go down as his most unforgettable.

Harris had a day to remember at last Thursday’s WIAA Division 1 Madison Memorial Sectional.

Harris qualified for the state meet in two relays and one individual event. And Harris helped Middleton finish second at sectionals, narrowly losing to Madison La Follette, 85-83.

Now, when the state meet is held Friday and Saturday at UW-La Crosse, Harris and the Cardinals will have extremely high hopes.

“I couldn't have asked for a better year for the MHS program,” Harris said. “We have worked so hard this year and it shows pretty well with winning conference and regionals and taking second at sectionals. It's been a lot of fun watching how much success the whole team has had this year.”

Sectionals meant another successful day for the Cardinals.

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Now or never for baseball Cards


The pitching has improved throughout and is now a major strength.

The hitting is getting closer and closer to where it needs to be.

In all, Middleton’s baseball team appears to be on the rise. And when the Cardinals begin the postseason Thursday, they’ll be a darkhorse candidate to reach the state tournament for a second straight year.

“Right now, I think we have a lot more consistency,” Middleton junior second baseman Luke Schafer said. “The bats are coming around and we’re fielding well. We’re just trying to find an even balance, which I think we’re doing.”

Middleton finished the year with a bang, putting together a seven-game winning streak that was snapped Saturday afternoon.

Still, the Cardinals’ late surge helped them finish the year 16-6 overall and alone in second place in the Big Eight Conference at 13-5.

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Good and bad for tennis Cards

On one hand, Evan Stone was ecstatic. Same goes for Griff Pyle.

The two Middleton tennis standouts have merged to become one of the best doubles tandems in the state. And when that deadly duo took first place at No. 1 doubles during last Thursday’s Middleton Sectional, they earned a trip to this weekend’s WIAA Division 1 state tournament.

“It’s awesome,” said Stone, a junior. “This was our goal from the start of the offseason.”

On the flip side, though, Stone, Pyle and the rest of the Cardinals left Nielsen Tennis Stadium somewhat despondent. That’s because Middleton finished second in its own sectional and failed to qualify for the state team tournament for the first time since 2008.

“We’re really happy to make it,” Pyle said of him and Stone. “But we’re all still pretty disappointed. We thought we could get there as a team.”

Middleton was hurt by two things at sectionals.

First, the Cardinals didn’t play their best. Not even close.

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Soccer Cards ready for the push

The road won't be easy.

Then again, it never is when you’re part of arguably the state’s toughest sectional.

But Middleton’s girls soccer team seems ready for a postseason push.

The Cardinals rolled past Madison La Follette, 5-0, last Monday and stretched their unbeaten streak to five games. Middleton finished the regular season 10-4-3 and tied for third place in the Big Eight Conference with a 5-1-2 record.

Middleton, which is seeded fifth in its sectional, now hosts La Crosse Logan Thursday at 7 p.m. in a regional semifinal. The winner of that game advances to a regional final Saturday, where the likely foe will be fourth-seeded Madison West, last year’s state champs.

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Softball Cards hope for better days


The complete turnaround didn’t happen, as hoped.

Oh, Middleton’s girls softball team made some strides this spring. But Cardinals coach Arin Oppermann and her team know there’s a lot of work to be done to become a Big Eight Conference power again.

“This season we had a lot of ups and downs,” Oppermann said. “We are a very capable team and played very well against some of the better teams in the conferences

“I think that if we play like we did against those teams consistently next year, we're going to come out ahead more often than not.”

Middleton finished the year 9-10 overall and lost a regional semifinal to DeForest, 6-5. The Cardinals were also 9-9 in the Big Eight Conference and finished in fifth place.

The Cardinals did heat up down the stretch and carried a four-game winning streak into the postseason. But the Cardinals lost their playoff opener for a second straight year.


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