Sports

Wed
28
Feb
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Meicher settles for 4th at state

MADISON — This was not how Kevin Meicher envisioned his weekend going.

But sometimes, reality gets in the way of fantasy.

Now, Meicher’s challenge will be coming back better than ever.

Meicher, a junior wrestler at Middleton, was chasing his second WIAA Division 1 state title in three years at the Kohl Center last weekend.

But Meicher lost in the semifinals at 152 pounds Friday night and eventually settled for fourth place.

Afterwards, Meicher — who entered the tournament 43-0 and ranked first in his weight class — was extremely disappointed, but already motivated for the 2019 season.

“I’ll talk it over with the coaches and learn from my mistakes,” Meicher said after the tournament. “Next year I’ll be coming back more motivated as ever.”

Middleton senior Dion Huff also qualified at 195 pounds. But Huff dropped his first round match to Kettle Moraine’s Josh Nowak, 5-2.

Wed
28
Feb
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MHS gymnasts set for state

They are peaking at the perfect time.

And if the rest of the state hasn’t noticed, they’ll most likely see for themselves this weekend.

Middleton’s girls gymnastics team gave a memorable performance and won the Madison Memorial Sectional last Saturday. The Cardinals posted a season-high score of 140.7250 and edged runner-up Sun Prairie (139.9250) for the title.

Middleton also earned seven of the 25 possible placements for individual state.

The top two teams and top five individuals in each event at sectionals advanced to the state meet, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln Fieldhouse.

The state team competition begins Friday at 2 p.m., while the individual state competition starts Saturday at 11 a.m.

“This group has been so much fun to be around,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said. “They’re making it a special season.”

Middleton’s performance at sectionals was awfully special.

Wed
28
Feb
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Sabol giving MHS gymnasts a lift

Karina Sabol leapt onto the balance beam, and all eyes immediately gravitated towards Middleton’s dynamic junior gymnast.

Sure, it was a random practice on a random Thursday evening. And many of Sabol’s teammates had undoubtedly seen this routine before.

But every time Sabol does something in a gym, it’s a “Must See” event.

On this night, as the music was cranked and eyeballs turned to Sabol, she made sure not to disappoint. Sabol put on a show, and when she finished, the Cardinals voiced their approval with a loud cheer.

This has been the norm wherever Sabol has gone this year.

Sabol, strictly a club gymnast her entire life, joined Middleton’s program for the first time this winter. And what an addition she’s been.

Wed
28
Feb
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Girls basketball team drops playoff opener

When a season typically ends, Middleton girls basketball coach Jeff Kind doesn’t look at the final game tape for weeks. Sometimes, Kind never watches the film all.

This year, Kind put the tape in just hours after Middleton’s 56-52 loss to Janesville Parker in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal last Friday.

He simply couldn’t wait.

“I felt like we were the better team,” Kind said. “And the tape kind of confirmed that. The only thing is we couldn’t make shots.”

Ah yes. Making shots.

Middleton, the No. 4 seed in the sectional, did the overwhelming majority of things right against the 13th-seeded Vikings. But the Cardinals’ year came to an end for one overriding reason: they simply didn’t shoot well enough.

Middleton shot just 19-of-60 from the field (31.7%), and with the game on the line, missed its final 13 shots from the floor. That allowed Parker to rally in the second half and pull out a shocking win.

Wed
28
Feb
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Boys basketball team falls to East

This was not the way Middleton’s boys basketball team wanted to enter the postseason.

Not following a 73-60 loss to Madison East in its regular season finale — which also happened to be Senior Night — last Thursday. Not after a game in which the Cardinals struggled to protect the ball and get defensive stops at critical moments.

But if the long season taught us anything, it’s that Middleton can play with many of the best teams in the area. Now, the question is can they beat those teams when it matters most?

The Cardinals finished the regular season 12-10 overall and finished fifth in the Big Eight Conference at 10-8. East won its 10th straight game and improved to 16-6, 13-5.

East senior forward Keshawn Justice led all scorers with 28 points that included seven three-pointers. Senior forward Alan Roden had 12 of his 14 points in the second half, while senior forward Brogan Brunker had all 12 of his points after intermission.

Fri
23
Feb
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Draves, MHS swimmers 2nd at state

Hopes for a second-place finish were fading fast. With each passing lap, the gap grew larger and larger.

Then along came Michael Draves.

With his team needing a miracle finish, Middleton’s senior swimming standout came through in spectacular fashion. Facing a huge deficit, Draves overtook the one swimmer he had to pass on the anchor leg of the meet’s final event – the 400-yard rely – to lift the Cardinals’ boys’ swim team to a second place finish at the WIAA Division 1 state swimming and diving championship at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium Saturday.

“That last relay was insane,” Middleton sophomore Nate Lamers said. “We had to beat Waukesha to get that second place. That relay really took it out in the end and we ended up getting second place.”

Thu
22
Feb
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Gymnasts win Big 8 title

Sun Prairie’s streak is over.

And Middleton hopes it has started one of its own.

Middleton won the Big Eight Conference girls gymnastics meet Saturday. Middleton scored 138.550 points and edged three-time defending champion Sun Prairie (137.825) for the title.

Madison West (131.075), Madison Memorial (130.1) and Janesville Craig (123.05) rounded out the top five.

“It was pretty huge to win conference,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said. “We have had a back and forth battle with Sun Prairie for the past several years.

“They have a strong team again this year, and going into the last event we were tied neck and neck. We got together right before vault and told the girls to go out and do their best and have fun, and that's exactly what they did. We had the highest vault total of the day, and that's what we needed to slide past Sun Prairie.”

Thu
22
Feb
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Meicher, Huff qualify for state

Kevin Meicher knows the bright lights and the full houses that await him better than anyone.

For Dion Huff, the chaos and the commotion will all be new.

Both Middleton wrestlers can’t wait to get a taste of the craziness.

Meicher and Huff both won championships in their weight classes at last Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 Waunakee Sectional. Now, Huff and Meicher have earned trips to the state tournament, which begins Thursday at the UW Kohl Center.

“It’s going to be great,” Huff said after winning a regional title at 195 pounds. “The crowd’s going to be amazing. It’s just a great atmosphere. I’m really excited about that.

“I’ve been there to watch pretty much every year. I can’t wait to compete there. It will be fun having another teammate there and sharing the experience. It’s going to be great.”

This, of course, is familiar territory for Meicher.

Wed
21
Feb
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Boys basketball team roughs up Beloit

Middleton’s boys basketball team knew there was no room for error.

The Cardinals, fighting for the highest possible postseason seed, fully understood they couldn’t stumble at Beloit Memorial last Friday.

The Purple Knights put a mini-scare in the Cardinals and trimmed Middleton’s early 11-point lead to 35-32 by halftime. But Middleton’s second half was one of its best of the season and it pulled away to a relatively easy 77-53 win over host Beloit.

Middleton improved to 12-9 overall and 10-7 in the Big Eight Conference, while Beloit slipped to 6-15, 5-12.

“The ball went inside early and often in the second half,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “We were able to bump it to double figures and never looked back.”

Wed
21
Feb
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Girls basketball team stuns East

Momentum.

The girls basketball postseason has arrived. And few teams around have as much momentum as Middleton’s girls basketball team.

The Cardinals capped the regular season on a high last Saturday night. Middleton went the length of the court in 4.2 seconds and Haley Dunn drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Cardinals an improbable 65-64 win over Madison East.

“It was a great example of ‘it ain’t over till it’s over,’ ” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said.

Middleton finished the year 15-7 overall and captured sole possession of third place in the Big Eight at 13-5. The Cardinals won their final five games and 12 of their last 14.

Middleton led East by as many as 12 points in the second half, but the Purgolders (14-4, 16-6) charged back.

Leading by two, East missed the second of two free throws with 4.2 seconds left. Halle White grabbed the rebound, took one dribble and fired ahead to Dunn.

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