Written by Steve Ostermann/ Mitch Maersch
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 19:55
Running with the pack helps Port girls, boys secure third-place honors in Div. 2
Pack running, the team approach that served the Port Washington cross-country squads well throughout this fall, paid dividends again in the biggest meet of the season last Saturday.
Placing all of their scoring runners in the top 50, the Pirates raced to third in both the girls’ and boys’ standings of the WIAA Division 2 finals at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
“We’ve been taking the team approach all year and setting ourselves up for this meet,” said Port girls’ coach Joe Adamak, whose team ended up with 136 points, just 13 behind first-place Dodgeville/Mineral Point.
“The girls went into this season with high goals, and they achieved them.”
In the boys’ competition, Port finished a bit closer to top honors by scoring 155 points — only nine back of champion Shorewood — despite not having a runner in the top 15.
The Port boys became part of a four-team logjam that also included second-place Dodgeville/Mineral Point with 154 points, and fourth-place Ashland with 156.
“It went about as well as we could have hoped for,” Port boys’ coach Mark Pasten said. “I thought we could place third, but I didn’t think there would be so many teams that close.”
As she has most of the season, Bianca Benkley led the Port girls. She finished with a 4,000-meter time of 15 minutes, 34.21 seconds, good for 18th overall in a field of 151 runners and ninth among teams with full lineups.
The Pirates’ other scoring finishers were Ashley Hilton in 32nd overall (15:50.77), Diana Seer in 36th (15:54.91), Allison Hilton in 73rd (16:29.44) and Payton Greisch in 81st (16:36.0).
Also for Port, Abby Kotecki was 86th (16:37.31), and Bonnie Allen was 90th (16:41.15).
Adamak was impressed with the cohesiveness of his team, which blended four seniors — the Hilton twins, Seer and Greisch — with junior Allen, sophomore Benkley and freshman Kotecki.
“It was nice to have a veteran crew that was as hard-working as they are,” he said.
“They were a very focused group that has been together for a long time. I think they should be very proud of themselves.”
Dodgeville/Mineral Point and Onalaska both scored 123 points in the girls’ race, but Dodgeville/Mineral Point was awarded first place based on the highest-placing sixth runner.
The Division 2 individual champion was Allie Woodward of Green Bay Notre Dame in 13:59.53.
The Port boys’ top finisher was senior Jake Verfuerth, whose 5,000-meter time of 17:13.1 was good for 17th in the team scoring and 28th overall among 148 runners.
Also scoring for the Pirates were Augie Yates in 43rd overall (17:25.0), Justin Fote in 52nd (17:33.2), Jared Sandlin in 61st (17:38.6) and Jason Marhal in 79th (17:45.2).
Port’s other finishers were Brandon Hinneberg in 90th (17:52.1) and Jared Burris in 106th (18:12.8).
All the Port boys are seniors except Marhal, who’s a sophomore.
The boys’ individual champion was Valders’ Michael Evans, who finished in 16:07.9.
Pasten noted that his team had one of the tightest groupings of runners in the meet.
“Our spread was only 32 seconds from No. 1 to No. 5,” he said. “We’ve never had that tight of a gap before. The guys just did a great job of group running.”
Pasten praised Verfuerth for his leadership.
“Throughout the season, we never knew who would be our top runner in each meet, but Jake really stepped up at the end of the season,” he said. “Last year, he was on the junior-varsity team, and this year he leads us at the state meet.”
Sandlin, a team captain, was also singled out for persevering despite a nagging ankle injury.
“Jared did an excellent job of keeping us focused,” Pasten said.
The Port squads’ strong showings culminated a season in which they both advanced to the state level for the first time in the same year.
Merritt-led CG-B boys dig down to come away with Div. 3 runner-up trophy
Joel Merritt and the rest of the Cedar Grove-Belgium boys’ cross-country team wandered away from the results area shortly after last Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 state meet in Wisconsin Rapids.
The Rockets didn’t think they ran well enough to finish in the top two and reach the awards podium for the third straight year.
But in the end, Merritt and his teammates climbed onto the stand to accept second-place honors. They scored 146 points, well behind champion Kenosha St. Joseph (107) but just ahead of third-place Rosholt (150).
Expectations were high for the Rockets after they won a Division 3 state title last year and were second in 2008.
Coming into the meet, the Rockets figured Kenosha St. Joseph would win it but that they should be near the top.
“I would say going into the race, we kind of looked at it and said of the top five teams we could definitely compete for those top two spots,” said Merritt, a senior.
Not that the Rockets felt that way after the race, however.
“None of us individually ran all that great. None of us were happy with our performances,” Merritt said.
“But when you put us all together, we met our team expectations.”
Merritt, participating in his fourth state race, finished seventh for team scoring (and 12th overall) with a 5,000-meter time of 17 minutes, 2.05 seconds. Teammate Alex Holle, a junior, was 17th overall in 17:14.18.
Among other Rockets, Richard Beabout finished 52nd (17:42.23), followed by Brandon Krauska in 72nd (18:00.81), Michael Merritt in 98th (18:24.04), Zacke Lyons in 126th (19:05.02) and Josh Beaudry in 144th (20:00.99).
“I don’t think they were real confident,” Rockets coach Ron Wood said of his runners’ post-race mood. “It was pretty exciting to take second, especially when you weren’t really expecting it.”
Among other top teams in the Division 3 standings, Chequamegon was fourth with 166 points, Darlington and Gillett tied for fifth (181), and Albany was seventh (191).
Times were a little off last year’s pace because the course changed slightly due to part of it being flooded.
For Merritt, it was a sweet finish to a season that started just six weeks ago. He had a bad leg and couldn’t train last summer and much of this year. He started the season as the second-fastest returning runner from last year’s state meet.
“It was one of those things that started off a little bit bitter. You’re looking forward to your senior year and want to get the best out of it,” Merritt said.
He couldn’t train and didn’t get back to the level he wanted, but he left Wisconsin Rapids with a medal and as the fastest runner on his team.
“I am pleased with the end of the season given the circumstances,” Merritt said.
After placing 67th at state as a freshman, Merritt was 13th as a sophomore and eighth as a junior.
Paul, Depies step up for CG-B girls Marina Paul led two Cedar Grove-Belgium girls who qualified for the Division 3 state meet by reaching her goal of a top-five finish in her fourth state race. The senior was fifth with a 4,000-meter time of 15:12.43.
Teammate Kiera Depies, a junior, was 11th for the second straight year. Her time of 15:29.33 was 23 seconds faster than her state effort last year.
“As can be expected, they rose to the occasion,” Wood said. “Marina’s time was the best she’s had, and Kiera’s time was best by 20 seconds. They didn’t fold under the pressure.”
Paul said she was happy with her finish but could have done better.
“I hoped to have a better time. I was hoping to go sub-15,” she said.
Paul edged two runners who finished less than three seconds behind her. She passed them with 400 meters to go and had her sights set on fourth but came up short.
Paul said the race seemed tougher than the sectional race when she finished in 15:13. But her state time was 23 seconds faster than last season when she took seventh and led the girls to second place.
Paul has placed in the top 22 at the state meet each of the last four years, improving each season. She was 22nd as a freshman, 13th as a sophomore and seventh as a junior.
“The state meet has been the highlight of my school year. Going all four years has been amazing for me. I love it,” she said.
Despite failing to reach state this year as a team, the Cedar Grove-Belgium girls have had “another fine, productive successful season,” Wood said.
As for the Rocket boys, “they’ve raised the bar pretty high,” he added. “It’s difficult to think of doing anything else now. It’s been exciting.”
SENIOR JOEL MERRITT (right) led the Cedar Grove-Belgium boys’ team in its second-place finish at the WIAA Division 3 state cross-country meet last Saturday at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. MARINA PAUL (167) and Kiera Depies (168) of Cedar Grove-Belgium finished fifth and 11th, respectively, in the WIAA Division 3 girls’ state cross-country meet Saturday. SENIORS Ashley Hilton (785) and Diana Seer (784) helped the Port Washington girls’ team place third in the Division 2 state meet by finishing 32nd and 36th, respectively, in the overall standings Saturday (top photo). Above, members of the Port boys’ and girls’ squads posed for a photo at the final. They include (front row, from left) Allison Hilton, Ashley Hilton, Payton Greisch, Diana Seer, Bianca Benkley, Abby Kotecki, Bonnie Allen, (back row) Brandon Hinneberg, Jared Sandlin, Jake Verfuerth, Justin Fote, Augie Yates, Jared Burris and Jason Marhal. Photos by Tim Greisch
Written by Steve Ostermann
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 19:34
Top-seeded foe strikes quickly in handing CG-B early exit from playoffs
There was no shortage of fight in the Cedar Grove-Belgium football team this season.
However, a shortage of execution against a formidable opponent gave the Rockets an early exit in the WIAA Division 5 playoffs last week.
After falling behind, 14-0, in the first two minutes, Cedar Grove-Belgium regrouped but couldn’t catch host Brillion in a 30-0, first-round loss on Oct. 26.
“We lost the coin toss, and it went downhill from there,” Rockets coach Chris Zablocki said.
“We gave up two early touchdowns and had to play catch-up the rest of the way.”
Brillion (10-0) showed why it received a No. 1 seed in the playoffs and a No. 2 state ranking by unleashing a pair of quick-strike scores.
The Lions got a 52-yard touchdown run from Justin Zeamer on their first play from scrimmage to take a 6-0 lead.
After forcing the Rockets to punt on their first possession, Brillion doubled the margin when James Van Thiel fielded the kick and raced 43 yards for a score. Will Jensen’s two-point conversion run made it 14-0.
“We were in a hole right away, which isn’t the way we wanted to start,” said Zablocki, whose team finished the season 6-4.
“Our kids kept playing hard and settled down after that, but it was tough to move the ball against Brillion’s defense.”
Cedar Grove-Belgium kept the Lions off the scoreboard the rest of the first half but saw its comeback hopes slowly fade after that.
In the third period, Brillion scored a safety when Van Thiel, a senior linebacker, tackled a runner in the end zone. Tanner Behnke’s 36-yard touchdown run helped make it 23-0.
A 1-yard touchdown burst by Jensen in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.
The Rockets’ best scoring chance ended with a turnover deep in Brillion territory.
Cedar Grove-Belgium managed just 123 yards in total offense against an active, hard-hitting defense, including 100 yards on the ground.
Andre Giles led the Rockets’ rushing attack with 65 yards on 15 carries, and Andrew Brisley had 61 yards on 10 attempts.
“You have to give Brillion a lot of credit,” Zablocki said. “Their defense was very solid.
“They have a senior-heavy team, and their seniors really stepped up in a big game for them.”
The Lions finished the night with 271 offensive yards, 261 of which came on the ground. Behnke led the way with 131 yards on 20 rushes, and Zeamer had 54 yards on just three carries.
Cedar Grove-Belgium’s loss was a departure from deep postseason runs it made the last two years, including advancing to a Division 5 state title game in 2008 and reaching the quarterfinals last year.
However, Zablocki praised the play of this year’s team, which qualified for the playoffs by overcoming injuries and the loss of more than a dozen of last season’s starters to graduation.
“This team faced a lot of adversity but stuck together and had another solid season,” he said. “It was not a down year for us. We lost a lot of starters, and some of our other players got hurt, but everyone kept fighting hard.
“I’m really proud of this team.”
On the way to the playoffs, the Rockets finished third in the Central Lakeshore Conference with a 5-2 record after winning titles the two previous seasons.
WIAA Division 5 Playoffs
Brillion 30, Cedar Grove-Belgium 0
First downs 8 13
Rushes-yards 37-100 43-261
Passing yards 23 10
Total yards 123 271
Passing 4-7-1 2-30
Fumbles-lost 4-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-35 5-40
CG-Belgium 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brillion 14 0 9 7 - 30
Brillion - Justin Zeamer, 52-yard run (kick failed).
Brillion - James Van Thiel, 43, punt return (Will Jensen run).
Brillion - Safety, Van Thiel tackled runner in end zone.
Brillion - Tanner Behnke, 36, run (Matt Van Druten kick).
Brillion - Jensen, 1, run (Van Druten kick).
Written by Steve Ostermann
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 18:49
Senior’s backstroke victory paces team at conference final; Port gets strong diving effort
A shorthanded lineup didn’t keep the Grafton girls’ swimming and diving team from making the most of its talent in the North Shore Conference meet last Saturday.
Led by Kelsi Chesney’s victory in the 100-yard backstroke and several other top-five performances, the Black Hawks finished sixth at the eight-team meet in Port Washington.
Chesney, a senior, posted a winning time of 1 minute, 3.57 seconds, in the backstroke, upholding a tradition of Grafton strength in the event. In recent years, the Hawks excelled in the same race with Sadie Nennig, who graduated last year.
“It’s an event we’ve dominated in the past, and now it was Kelsi’s time to take over,” said Grafton coach Adan Burgos, whose team scored 238 points, just three behind fifth-place Germantown.
Chesney also finished third in the 100 butterfly (1:04.82).
Grafton stayed near the middle of the pack in the team standings despite having only 14 entries out of a possible 36 in the meet.
Homestead had no trouble repeating as team champion and scored 466 points, well ahead of runner-up Whitefish Bay’s 325.
Rounding out the standing were third-place Cedarburg (321 points), followed by Nicolet (286), Germantown, Grafton, Port Washington (153) and Milwaukee Lutheran (73).
Grafton’s other top-five performances were a second by Caitlin Hanney in the 200 individual medley (2:19.74); thirds by Katelyn Zarem in diving (334.95 points), Stephanie Haebig in the backstroke (1:04.88) and the 200 medley relay team of Haebig, Hanney, Chesney and Lisa Borden (2:00.47); fourths by Hanney in the 500 freestyle (5:31.14) and the 400 freestyle team of Chesney, Hanney, Haebig and Borden (3:54.17); and a fifth by Borden in the 100 freestyle (59.42).
“We were hoping to get in the top five as a team, and we just missed,” Burgos said. “Our main focus was to get good times and prepare for the Division 2 sectionals, which we did.”
Burgos singled out Zarem, a junior, for a strong diving performance in a field that included several Division 1 standouts.
The Hawks received sevenths from Haebig in the 500 freestyle (5:37.11) and the 200 freestyle team of Borden, Anna Hauer, Emma Saunders and Rochelle Schuette (1:55.59). Hauer was eighth in the 100 breaststroke (1:19.57) and ninth in the individual medley (2:31.12).
Port’s best finishes came in diving, where sophomore Hayley Seitz took fourth (322.4 points) and junior Claire Kinzer was fifth (309).
The Pirates received sixths from Alex Anderson in the butterfly (1:07.12), the 200 freestyle team of Mary Nuedling, Dana Grady, Anderson and Tori Klotz (1:54.38) and the 400 freestyle team of Nuedling, Kelsey Zeman, Anderson and Klotz (4:11.73); a seventh from the medley team of Grady, Kelsey Brockman, Zeman and Nora Beppler (2:18.46) and a 10th from Klotz in the 500 freestyle (5:46.08).
This weekend, Grafton and Port will both participate in a WIAA Division 2 sectional at Plymouth High School.
The diving finals will start at 6:30 p.m. Friday, followed by swimming at 2 p.m. Saturday. Winners of each event will qualify for the state meet along with the next 12 top finishes from all sectionals.
The field will include defending state champion Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol and other perennial powers such as Plymouth and Whitefish Bay.
The state meet will be held Nov. 12 and 13 in Madison.
ALTHOUGH Grafton and Port Washington finished well back in the overall standings at last week’s North Shore Conference girls’ swimming and diving meet, both squads had a number of solid performances. Grafton’s scoring finishers included swimmer Caitlin Hanney (top left), who was second in the individual medley, and Erin Bagatta (top right), who was 15th in diving. Port’s top finishes were in diving, where Hayley Seitz (lower right) took fourth, and Claire Kinzer (right) was fifth. Photos by Sam Arendt
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