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Record-setting finale for Nennig, Hawks PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Ostermann   
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 16:50

Team marks fall as Grafton boys make most of their time in WIAA Div. 2 state swimming, diving competition


If you really want to end the season in style, breaking a few records is a dandy way to do it.

The Grafton boys’ swimming and diving team took that approach to heart at  last Friday’s WIAA Division 2 state meet in Madison by setting school marks in three events.

Sophomore Al Nennig turned in two of the Black Hawks’ record times in individual events, placing second in the 100-yard breaststroke (in 57.95 seconds) and fifth in the 50 freestyle (21.90).

Nennig was also part of a record-setting 400 freestyle team that finished ninth (3:26.26). He anchored a lineup that also included sophomore Brad Kempka and seniors Chris Rose and Austin Schaut.

“The guys swam really well. It was a great way to finish the season,” said Grafton coach Mark Minz, whose squad scored 53 points, good for 16th in the 28-team standings.

“They continued to improve throughout the season and had their best performances at the end.”

Grafton’s other state place finisher was freshman Zach Greenwood, who took 13th in diving (259.95 points).

Nennig, who led the Hawks throughout the season, took a different path to the  Division 2 finals after qualifying last year in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.

He lowered his seed times in both the breaststroke and 50 freestyle at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium. The most impressive drop (1.45 seconds) came in the breaststroke, where he broke the team mark of 58.28 set by Eric Mueller at the 1993 state meet.

“Al’s got the talent, and he’s got great desire,” Minz said. “For him to do it in two new events was pretty impressive.”

The Hawks’ 400 freestyle team broke the school record of 3:26.50, first set in 1984 and tied at a sectional meet Feb. 12. The foursome rebounded in the final event of the state meet after being disqualified in the 200 freestyle relay for a false start.

“It was disappointing to have a disqualification, but the guys bounced back,” Minz said.

Greenwood, who was in his first year of competitive diving and didn’t come out for the team until mid-season, capped a remarkable run. He had the best score among three freshmen divers who qualified for the Division 2 state meet.

“Zach really stepped forward as a young kid and did a great job,” Minz said. “He has amazing coordination and picked up the sport quickly.”

Although the Hawks will lose a number of swimmers to graduation — including tri-captains Rose, Josh Govek and Brandon Marshall — they have a nucleus of young talent for next season.

“It’s been a really good season for us,” Minz said. “If the kids keep working hard in the off-season, they have a chance to be very good again next year.”

McFarland won the Division 2 state title with 286 points, edging second-place Monona Grove, which had 279.

Among other local teams, Cedarburg placed fifth with 131 points, and Whitefish Bay was ninth with 106.

 
‘It’s a great night to be a Black Hawk’ PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Ostermann   
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 18:12
GRAFTON GUARD Jake Wilde was determined to drove past Whitefish Bay’s Paul Anton during the teams’ North Shore Conference game last Friday. Host Grafton rallied to win, 51-45, and score its first league victory since 2007.       Photo by Sam Arendt

Grafton boys’ team finds new lease on basketball life after stunning Bay to end 60-game league losing skid


The sun has finally risen for the Black Hawks.

It took four years, but the Grafton boys’ basketball team found its name on the winning side of a North Shore Conference box score at last, thanks to a come-from-behind effort against Whitefish Bay last Friday.

The Hawks’ home victory — which snapped a 60-game skid dating back to January 2007 — came in the form of a 51-45 upset over the second-place Blue Dukes, who defeated Grafton by 22 points earlier this season.

“It’s a great night to be a Black Hawk,” said Grafton coach Kevin McKenna, whose squad overcame a one-point deficit with an 18-11, fourth-quarter run that kept fans on their feet.

“We got some excellent performances from Scotty Tyler and Robbie Doring, but it really was a great team effort. The kids never stopped playing hard and never stopped believing they could win.”

Tyler, a sophomore forward, poured in a game-high 23 points, including a trio of three-point baskets and an 8-for-11 effort on free throws. Doring, a junior guard, added 14 points.

McKenna, whose team improved to 1-9 in NSC play and 5-13 overall, was quick to praise other players, including guards C.J. Koehler, Jake Wilde and Kevin Collins and forwards Nick Scherzer and Beau Benzschawel.

“They all contributed,” he said. “Nick Scherzer grabbed a lot of key rebounds, and Koehler, Wilde and Collins all played well. Benzschawel (a freshman) gave us some solid minutes.”

Bay, which began the night with a 7-3 conference mark, got off to a slow start against Grafton’s aggressive defense and trailed, 25-18, at halftime. The Dukes returned the favor with a 16-8 run in the third quarter to take a 34-33 lead into the final eight minutes, but the Hawks were not to be denied.

“We were very disciplined and stuck to our game plan,” McKenna said. “I looked at the kids in the huddle before the fourth quarter and told them we were right there and to go out and win it.”

After jumping back ahead early in the final period, the Hawks maintained a four or five-point lead the rest of the way. They finished the game 13-for-18 at the free-throw line, a 72% effort that helped snuff out Bay’s comeback hopes.

“It was mostly a two or three-possession game for Bay in the fourth quarter, which meant we were staying in control,” McKenna said.

Grafton’s strong defensive effort held the Dukes well below their 60-point game average. McKenna singled out Collins for his work on high-scoring forward Ron Patten, who had 11 points but was the only Bay player to reach double figures.

Before Friday, Grafton’s last conference win was a 70-61 victory over Cedarburg on Jan. 2, 2007. This season, the Hawks have had several close calls, including a 47-46 loss to Port Washington on Jan. 21 and a 50-48 loss to Milwaukee Lutheran on Feb. 8.

Amid Friday’s post-game revelry, Grafton players, coaches and fans finally had a chance to exhale.

“It’s a huge relief to everybody,” McKenna said. “The crowd was crazy, and everyone wanted this so badly. The outpouring of support has been incredible.”

The Hawks were scheduled to continue NSC play this week, facing Milwaukee Lutheran on Tuesday and first-place Germantown on the road Friday. On Feb. 22, they will travel to Cedarburg to make up a game postponed Feb. 1.

All contests start at 7:30 p.m.

Wayland Academy 46, Grafton 45

A game-high 28 points by Tyler couldn’t save the Hawks in a nonconference home loss Feb. 9.

Grafton jumped ahead, 15-10, in the first quarter but was outscored, 22-16, in the next two periods. Wayland played the Hawks on even terms, 14-14, in the fourth quarter.

John Moran led the Big Red with 16 points, and Michael Vaubel added 14.

Milwaukee Lutheran 50, Grafton 48

A buzzer-beating layup gave Lutheran the last word in a hard-fought NSC makeup game Feb. 8.

Grafton held a 19-17 lead at halftime, but the Red Knights rallied to take a 35-34 lead after three periods.

The Hawks used a balanced scoring attack to stay in contention, led by Tyler and Koehler with 14 points apiece. Doring added 10 points.

Garrett Wenzelburger paced Lutheran with 19 points.

 
Madison pool test awaits energized Grafton boys PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Ostermann   
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 18:01
THE GRAFTON BOYS’ swimming and diving team will be well-represented at Friday’s WIAA Division 2 state meet in the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison. Representing the Black Hawks will be (clockwise from upper left) Al Nennig, Brad Kempka, Austin Schaut, Zach Greenwood, Mark Rosenberg and Chris Rose.
                                      Photo by Sam Arendt

Nennig, Greenwood, two relays rise to occasion with state-qualifying efforts


After making a few ripples with a competitive group of state qualifiers last season, the Grafton boys’ swimming and diving squad is poised for a much bigger splash this year.


Led by a pair of wins from sophomore Al Nennig, the Black Hawks had three individuals and two relay teams advance from last weekend’s Plymouth Sectional to this Friday’s WIAA Division 2 finals in Madison.

Nennig won the 50-yard freestyle (in a team-record 22.11 seconds) and the 100 breaststroke (59.4) to qualify for state along with freshman Zach Greenwood, who placed seventh in diving (250.35 points).

Grafton’s other state representatives will be the 400 freestyle team of Brad Kempka, Chris Rose, Austin Schaut and Nennig (second in 3:26.5) and the 200 freestyle team of Kempka, Mark Rosenberg, Rose and Schaut (third in 1:34.39).

“It was an excellent meet for us. I’m really proud of the way the kids swam,” said Grafton coach Mark Minz, whose team finished fifth in the sectional standings with 261 points.

“Al had two outstanding individual performances, and we had a diver qualify, which was a nice surprise. We were hoping to get all three relays through but came up a little short there.”

Narrowly missing a trip to state was the Hawks’ 200 medley team of Nennig, Josh Govek, Brandon Marshall and Schaut, whose fifth-place time of 1:44.6 was a fraction behind the 1:1:44.49 qualifying standard.

Cedarburg won the sectional title easily with 345 points. Brown Deer/University School took second with 290 points, and Plymouth was third with 277.

Among other local squads in the 12-team field, Port Washington was seventh with 170 points.

Nennig dominated his individual events, breaking his own team mark in the 50 freestyle. He will enter the Division 2 finals with the top qualifying time in the breaststroke and third-fastest time in the 50 freestyle.

Both events are changes for Nennig, who placed fifth in the 100 backstroke and sixth in the 200 individual medley at last year’s state meet.

“Al is looking strong and looking forward to hopefully even faster times at state,” Minz said. “He decided to try two different events this year and has worked very hard on them.”

Greenwood has the lowest sectional score among the 16 state-qualifying divers but has become one of Grafton’s most pleasant surprises. He didn’t join the team until late December, and only after being recruited by diving coach Dennis Hubert, Minz
said.

“Zach is very athletic and a very quick learner,” he said. “He missed the first three or four weeks of the season, but skill-wise, he’s a natural for diving.”

The Hawks have an excellent chance to improve on their finish in last year’s state meet, when they placed 16th with 59 points.

Grafton had several other top-10 individual finishes in the sectional meet, including a fifth by Kempka in the 100 freestyle (51.78), sixths by Kempka in the 50 freestyle (23.71) and Rose in the 100 freestyle (52.47), sevenths by Schaut in the 50 freestyle
(23.71) and Govek in the breaststroke (1:08.04), ninth by Marshall in the 100 butterfly (1:01.9) and 10ths by Rose in the 50 freestyle (23.99), Govek in the 200 individual medley (2:02.75) and Marshall in the 100 backstroke (1:05.48).

Port’s top finish came from sophomore Alex Mehre, who took fifth in the butterfly (1:00.44).

The Pirates’ other individual efforts included a sixth from David Antoine in the backstroke (1:02.1); seventh by Connor LaCosse in the 500 freestyle (5:32.04); eighth by Tim Walch in the butterfly (1:01.4); ninths from Walch in the individual medley
(2:20.36), Schaefer in the 100 freestyle (54.59) and Jake Verfuerth in the backstroke (1:04.89); and 10th by LaCosse in the 200 freestyle 1:59.68).

Port’s best relay finish was a sixth by the 400 freestyle team of Antoine, Mehre, LaCosse and Schaefer (3:44.63).

Pirates coach Alex Kultgen said his young team did its best in a talent-laden meet.

“I thought we had an outside shot at getting Mehre or Antoine through to state, but it didn’t work out,” he said. “Our level of swimming is just not at the level we had to be at to qualify.”

Friday’s Division 2 state meet at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium will begin with diving competition at 2:30 p.m. Swimming finals start at 6:30 p.m.

 
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