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Tuesday, 14 February 2017 08:34

Annual David Trophy ceremony Feb. 18

The ninth annual David Trophy presentations and breakfast will be held Saturday, Feb. 18, starting at 7:30 a.m. at Calvary Community Church.

The purpose of the event is to recognize and encourage honorable character traits in young men from area high school programs and to demonstrate support for the influence of coaches in the lives of maturing young athletes.

Head football coaches from Badger, Big Foot, Delavan-Darien and Elkhorn high schools selected one player from their teams.

The coaches and winners for 2016 are: Badger, coach Matt Hensler and nominee Mason DuMez, quarterback, defensive back and punter; Big Foot, coach Greg Enz, nominee Beau Cary, tight end and defensive end; DDHS, coach Bret St. Arnauld, nominee Ryan Gengler, running back and linebacker; and Elkhorn, coach Tom Lee, nominee Ryan Shilts, running back and defensive back.

Those who wish to attend or want more information should call 262-245-6294. The church is at the corner of Wisconsin Highway 50 and Harris Road in Williams Bay.

Stateline area athletes and teams turned in another banner calendar year in 2016. Here is a look at many of those performances in CSI Media’s annual Year in Review series.

This article focuses on boys and men’s sports. Girls and women’s sports ran last Sunday and can be found at CommunityShoppers.com.

Comets reach the top

Delavan-Darien won the Division 3 state soccer crown Nov. 5, while Southern Lakes rival Elkhorn reached the D-2 title match.

Mike Marse’s Comets walked off with the trophy for a second time in three seasons, defeating Mount Horeb for a second time -- the Vikings won the 2015 title.

DDHS busted loose from a 1-0 first-period lead en route to a 5-1 triumph over Seymour in the semifinals at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee. Goalie Ricardo Huerta finished with only one save as the Comets outshot the Thunder by a 28-3 margin with five players registering goals.

In the finals showdown, Delavan-Darien opened the scoring with tallies from Julien Riviere and Gerardo Rodriguez in the first 12:27 and held off Mount Horeb the rest of the way for the school’s third trophy in eight appearances while finishing 26-1-2.

The Elks made their second trip and recorded the school’s first state tourney win to reach the championship match for the first time. They fell to Whitefish Bay, 4-0, which notched its second straight title and sixth overall.

Elkhorn wound up 20-4-3, defeating New Richmond, 2-1, in the semis behind Sid Babu’s 16th and 17th goals of the year, including the game winner at 70:11 to overcome a 1-0 deficit.

Demons knock off champs

Burlington eliminated defending champion Janesville Craig in the quarterfinals of the WIAA Division 1 state baseball tournament, using that momentum to carry it to the trophy at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute.

The Demons made their third state appearance a memorable one, and they started it in the second inning of their opener against the Cougars, who had scored three runs on four hits and an error in the first inning. Burlington responded with four runs in the next two innings en route to a 5-3 victory behind standout pitcher Jacob Lindemann, a Wichita State recruit who could get drafted in June 2017.

Burlington then disposed of Green Bay Preble, 9-0, and rallied past Arrowhead after the latter had jumped to a 4-0 cushion after the first inning. The Demons scored twice in the sixth and tacked on four more runs in the seventh inning for the 6-4 win and a 25-5 finish.

Two qualify for football semis

The Badger and Clinton football teams reached the state playoff semifinals in divisions 1 and 5, respectively.

Matt Hensler’s Badgers qualified for the WIAA playoffs for an 11th straight time, advancing to Level 4 for a third time in five years.

Second-seeded Badger disposed of three Big Eight foes by a combined 80-28 before running into Franklin. The Sabers posted a 35-14 victory before grabbing a 14-0 halftime advantage against powerful Kimberly, which ripped off 29 unanswered points to win its fourth consecutive crown.

Badger has accumulated a 10-5 postseason record over the last five years.

Clinton cemented its fourth straight and eighth overall playoff trip, earning three of the school’s four all-time postseason wins.

The Cougars rattled off victories against playoff veterans Marshall (13 trips), Arcadia (23) and Lancaster (26, with seven state titles). Clinton’s season ended, 42-35, at the hands of Cedar Grove-Belgium, which then lost the title game to Amherst, 38-35.

Jeff Spiwak’s Cougars ended 11-2.

King Benny

Whitewater High School senior Benny Liang finished third in the 100-yard butterfly at the WIAA state Division 2 swimming meet in Madison, cutting nearly 1:40 off his seed time, finishing in 52.28 seconds.

However, his biggest splash again occurred in his specialty event, the 100-yard breaststroke, where he capped off his prep career with his second consecutive D-2 gold medal.

In 2015, Liang entered the competitions with the ninth-best time. He shaved nearly four seconds off that to finish in 59.07 in earning the title. He also swam a leg as the Whippets’ 200 relay team won gold.

In February 2016, Liang, now at Wabash College in Indiana, also saved his best for last, taking a strong lead through the first 50 yards and hanging on, this time clocking a 58.64 to claim the top spot.

Central reaches finale

The Catholic Central boys basketball team advanced to the Division 5 state championship contest, falling to McDonell Central, 63-41.

However, many wouldn’t have predicted the Hilltoppers to get that far, especially when they were sitting at 6-7 overall and saddled with a four-game losing skid on Jan. 23.

But Central went on a seven-game winning streak and entered the postseason having won eight of its last 10. The Hilltoppers then won two regional contests by a combined nine points and two sectional outings by a 17-point margin to reach Madison.

Central got a free throw apiece from Ben Heiligenthal and Frank Koehnke in the final minute for a 37-35 win over Barneveld to reach the finale. Heiligenthal registered 14 points, but the Hilltoppers were no match for McDonell, finishing 19-10 overall.

Grappling with medals

Several area wrestlers made their presence felt at the Kohl Center.

Milton’s Billy Pitzner won the 170-pound title in Division 1 as a junior, posting a 6-4 victory and handing Sawyer Massie of Hudson, a senior, his first loss of the year in the title showdown. Pitzner finished 49-4 after recording two major decisions and a pin en route to his crown.

Elkhorn’s Benji Peak finished third at 113 pounds in D-1. The sophomore registered a 10-1 win and followed it with a pin to reach the semifinals, where he fell, 6-5, to the eventual runner-up. However, Peak rallied for two more decisions to finish 33-4.

Freshman Jackson Hauri of Parkview captured fifth at 106 pounds in D-3, He lost his opener, 9-6, to fall into the wrestlebacks, where he won two of three matches to finish 44-5.

Janesville Parker junior Logan Murdy ended in sixth place at 195 in D-1. He won his opener but lost to eventual unbeaten champion Jacob Raschka of Pewaukee. Murdy then won two matches before losing his final two outings, including an 11-10 decision to settle for sixth.

Circling the track

Craig’s Deon Newson placed fifth in the 300 hurdles (38.83) and ran the second leg in the Cougars’ all-senior foursome that placed sixth in the 400 relay, clocking a 42.73 along with Aristide Serrano, Hozai Ceballos and Peter Larson. The latter also took seventh in the 100 in 11.39.

Beloit Memorial junior Tavien Payton went 22-3 to grab sixth place in the long jump.

In D-2, Evansville senior Noah Schiller ran a 1:56.11 to finish fifth in the 800. East Troy junior Billy Dominski also placed fifth, blazing a 15.26 in the 100 hurdles. Dominski also finished third in the 300 hurdles (39.41), one spot behind Big Foot sophomore Jackson Enz (38.87).

Meanwhile, East Troy senior Jake Wendt captured seventh in the shot put (52-61/4).

Parkview senior Hunter Marshall was a top competitor in Division 3, taking seventh in the 200 (23.30).

Warhawks shine again

UW-Whitewater didn’t quite duplicate most recent history, but Warhawk teams continued to make their presence felt on a national stage.

The football team reached the national quarterfinals, qualifying for the postseason for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

Their campaign ended against John Carroll, 31-14, with a 17-0 third quarter deficit the difference.

UW-W’s soccer team advanced to the second round of the NCAA playoffs, as did the basketball squad. UW-W’s track team was fifth nationally in the outdoor championships.

The UW-W baseball team lost both of its World Series games by a combined three runs. It was the school’s sixth appearance since 2004.

Two in a row

Harrison Hearne’s Hononegah tennis program earned its second league and sectional titles in a row, its only such accomplishments in history.

The Indians’ sectional efforts featured their excellent doubles tandems. Brandon Kim and Hsing-Hao Louh defeated teammates in fellow junior Josh Euhus and sophomore Parker Hearne in the final.

That bodes well for another strong Hononegah run in 2017.

Bucs reach NCAAs

Beloit College’s baseball team shared the North Division title and qualified for the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional tournament after winning its  second MWC championship and first since 2009.

The Bucs lost both postseason contests to finish 27-14, which tied for the second-most wins in school history.

Dave DeGeorge was named the league’s top coach, while senior pitcher Ryan Kaveney and junior infielders Mike Gulve and Kam Sallee made the North’s first team.

UPDATE: Final score, Franklin 35, Badger 14. Great season comes to an end.

KENOSHA -- Badger High School (12-0) enters the state semifinals for the second straight year and third time in five seasons when it takes the field tonight, Nov. 11, 2016, against top seeded Franklin at 7 p.m. at Kenosha Bradford.

Win, and the Badgers are in the WIAA Division 1 state championship game at 4 p.m. Nov. 18, 2016 in Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Badger previously lost 21-13 to Sun Prairie in a D1 semifinal in 2012 and then fell 28-14 to Waukesha West in a D2 semifinal last season.

This time around, Badger draws Franklin, who knocked off Milwaukee Marquette 45-23.

The Gazette recap for last week's 28-7 WIAA Division 1 semifinal victory over Middleton is HERE.

2016 Football State Championships

Thursday & Friday, Nov. 17-18
Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

Thursday, Nov. 17

Div. 7:  10 a.m.
Div. 6:  1 p.m.
Div. 5:  4 p.m.
Div. 4:  7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 18

Div. 3:  10 a.m.
Div. 2:  1 p.m.
Div. 1:  4 p.m.

Friday, 28 October 2016 09:21

Local teens star in high school productions

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- The plays taking center stage on Walworth County high schools next month showcase some wonderful theater, with several presenting familiar stories given a new twist.

Big Foot High School

Audience members will see a familiar fairy tale turned on its head with “The Cinderella Complex” at the newly remodeled auditorium at Big Foot High School, said director Rachel Wenndt.  

State tournament action for girls golf and girls individual tennis are already in the books for the 2016-’17 school year.

And postseason competition begins for every other fall sport, making this week one of the busiest on the prep calendar.

Here is a rundown of where Stateline area schools will be performing:

Volleyball

Competitions begin Thursday, Oct. 20, and continue Saturday in Division 1, while teams in divisions 2-4 open Tuesday, Oct. 18, and continue Thursday and Saturday.

Burlington is the sectional host and earned the No. 2 seeding in one of eight D-1 brackets, where Westosha Central earned the top spot.

In other match-ups, eighth-seeded Milton hosts ninth-seeded Kenosha Bradford/Reuther, with the winner going to Westosha. The other side of the regional has fifth seed Janesville Craig entertaining 12th-seeded Badger, while No. 13 seed Janesville Parker visits fourth-seeded Fort Atkinson.

The opposite side of the sectional features third-seeded Stoughton hosting 14th-seeded Beloit Memorial, while the Demons are home to 15th-seeded Elkhorn.

In Division 2, top-seeded East Troy is slated to host the McFarland Sectional semifinals and gets eighth-seeded Clinton.

The regional also includes fifth-seeded Delavan-Darien traveling to fourth-seeded Evansville, third-seeded Big Foot hosting sixth-seeded Beloit Turner and No. 7 seed Whitewater visits second-seeded Edgerton.

The New Glarus Sectional includes area squads in Division 3. Fifth-seeded Parkview visits fourth-seeded Deerfield on Tuesday, with the winner heading to top-seeded Wisconsin Heights on one side of the sectional. It also includes third-seeded Brodhead hosting sixth-seeded Cambridge.

The other side sees fifth-seeded Palmyra-Eagle traveling to fourth-seeded Dodgeland, with No. 1 seed Waterloo waiting for the winner.

The Division 4 field includes the Stoughton Sectional, with one regional bracket featuring eighth-seeded Faith Christian visiting top seed Randolph. Meanwhile, second-seeded Williams Bay entertains seventh-seeded Rio.

Boys soccer

The schedule structure is the same as volleyball, with action, mainly play-in games with lower seeds, starting on Tuesday and games continuing Thursday and Saturday.

Area Division 1 schools open up Thursday: The Kettle Moraine Sectional includes 16th-seeded Janesville Parker visiting top-seeded Middleton, third-seeded Beloit Memorial hosting 14th-seeded Janesville Craig and seventh-seeded Badger traveling to 10th-seeded Waukesha South.

The D-2 field has fifth-seeded Milton hosting No. 12 Westosha Central in the Wilmot Sectional, which also includes second-seeded Elkhorn welcoming 15th-seeded Burlington.

In Division 3, top-seeded and top-ranked Delavan-Darien opens at home Thursday with the winner of Tuesday’s Milwaukee Lutheran-Kewaskum showdown. If the Comets advance to Saturday, they will meet eighth-seeded Big Foot/Williams Bay or ninth-seeded St. Thomas More.

On the other side of the sectional, 11th-seeded Whitewater visits sixth-seeded Plymouth and 10th-seeded East Troy travels to New Berlin West, the seventh seed.

The Edgewood Sectional has 17th-seeded Edgerton playing at No. 16 Black River Falls/Melrose Mindoro on Tuesday, with the winner going to top-seeded Mount Horeb on Thursday. Third-seeded Evansville hosts 14th-seeded Mauston.

In Division 4, Faith Christian is a sixth seed in The Prairie School Sectional and hosts 11th-seeded Kenosha St. Joseph.

Cross country

Sectional competitions are scheduled Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22, with the state meet set for Saturday, Oct. 29, at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

Beloit Memorial hosts a Division 1 sectional at Leeson Park with the boys race at 11 a.m. and the girls competition at 11:45 a.m. Participating teams include the Purple Knights, Elkhorn, Janesville Parker, Janesville Craig and Milton.

Badger will be in the Kenosha Bradford Sectional, while Burlington competes in the Mukwonago Sectional, both of which also take place Saturday. They start with boys events at 10 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., respectively.

In Division 2, Evansville, Brodhead/Juda, Beloit Turner and Edgerton will be in the Platteville Sectional. Meanwhile, Whitewater, Clinton, Big Foot, Delavan-Darien and East Troy participate at Deerfield. Both events start with boys at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The D-3 competitions include Parkview traveling to Fennimore and Williams Bay, Palmyra-Eagle and Catholic Central participating in the Kenosha St. Joseph Sectional. The Fennimore event starts at 11 a.m., while action in Kenosha begins at 12:15 p.m.

Football

All of the WIAA playoff contests are scheduled for 7 p.m. kickoffs Friday unless noted otherwise.

In Division 1, unbeaten Southern Lakes Conference winner Badger earned a No. 2 seed behind Big Eight co-champion Sun Prairie in one eight-team regional. The Badgers host seventh-seeded Madison West.

The D-3 field includes area squads Evansville/Albany and Delavan-Darien. The Comets picked up a seventh seed and travel to No. 2 Mount Horeb/Barneveld. The Blue Devils are a fifth seed and visit fourth-seeded Fort Atkinson.

In Division 4, Big Foot earned an eighth seed and hits the road to top-seeded River Valley. The winner will face fourth-seeded Lodi or fifth-seeded Brodhead/Juda in the second round. East Troy is the seventh seed and visits second-seeded Platteville in the opener.

Clinton earned one of the four tops seeds in Division 5. The Cougars host eighth-seeded Marshall, with No. 4 Arcadia or No. 5 New Glarus/Monticello the prospective opponent in Level 2.

Peter Krien spent much of his high school career tormenting opposing defenses as a quarterback in Badger’s vaunted, run-oriented attack.

He made the Southern Lakes Conference’s second team as a junior and was selected to the first unit while earning Player of the Year honors as a senior, leading the Badgers to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Division 1 state playoff semifinals.

However, the former Lake Geneva standout has spent his collegiate playing days using his knowledge of offensive intricacies to help stop them as a linebacker at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

The 2016 high school football season starts Aug. 18-20. Here is a look at some of the top storylines as the race for conference titles and WIAA playoff berths begins across the Stateline.

On the move

Two Stateline area schools are hoping a new conference home will indeed create greener pastures, at least from a competitive standpoint.

Parkview and Palmyra-Eagle are looking to put recent struggles behind them as the WIAA approved their shift from the Rock Valley to the much more enrollment friendly Trailways.

New enrollment figures show Parkview, which was planning to play 8-man football, sitting at 261 students and Palmyra-Eagle at 316. So, instead of remaining the smallest entries in the RVC South, they are in the middle of their new seven-team league.

The Stateline area will be well represented at the WIAA state track and field championships. It will be the 121st meet for boys and 46th for girls.

Competitions have been held in La Crosse since 1990, and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is the host again this Friday and Saturday.

Area qualifiers are listed below.

• Meanwhile, the boys state individual tennis tournament started today (June 2) and runs through Saturday at Nielsen Stadium in Madison.

Burlington sophomore Jacob Ludwig and Badger freshman Mason Sniatynski competed in Division 1 singles, while the D-2 singles field included East Troy senior Johnathon Brehm and Whitewater junior Brodie Runez.

The Division 2 doubles event featured the East Troy tandem of juniors Brody Woodson and Vince Baxter and the Big Foot/Williams Bay senior duo of Michael Heidenreich and Adrian Hernandez.

• The 91st annual boys state golf meet will be held Monday and Tuesday, June 6 and June 7, at University near Madison,

Badger is the lone Stateline area school to qualify as a team, competing in the powerful D-1field.

David DeShambo’s Watertown Sectional champion Badgers (312 score) include senior Luke Bourneuf, juniors Jonathan Duggan and Jackson Rademaker, sophomore Connor Duggan and freshman Blake Wisdom, with senior Alec Jacobsen as the alternate.

Boys track state qualifiers

Division 1

High jump: Sr. Matt Compton, Badger

Long jump: Jr. Tavien Payton, Beloit Memorial

Shot put: Jr. Mylik Williams, Janesville Parker

Discus: Sr. Patrick O’Leary, Milton

Pole vault: So. Palmer Goodwick, Janesville Parker

Triple jump: Jr. Cole Gillitzer, Milton

110-meter hurdles: Quentin Mendez, Beloit Memorial

300 hurdles: Sr. Deon Newson, Janesville Craig; Sr. Marquise Brooks, Janesville Parker

100 meters: Sr. D’Andre Newell, Badger; Sr. Peter Larson, Janesville Craig

800 meters: So. Derek Davey, Elkhorn

1,600 meters: Sr. Nate Farrell, Janesville Craig

3,200 meters: Sr. Payton Bender, Janesville Craig

400 relay: Janesville Craig (Sr. Aristide Serrano, Sr. Deon Newson, Sr. Hozai Ceballos, Sr. Peter Larson)

800 relay: Janesville Craig (Sr. Matt Brennan, Sr. Deon Newson, Sr. Hozai Ceballos, Sr. Peter Larson); Badger (So. William Keller, Sr. Tyler Vandevelde, Jr. Tias Larson, Sr. Christian Martinez)

1,600 relay: Janesville Parker (Sr. Riley Bendorf, Jr. Brandon Leeder, Sr. Colton Ellis, Sr. Marquise Brooks)

Division 2

Discus: Sr. Jake Wendt, East Troy

Triple jump: Sr. Xhonatan Shahollari, Whitewater

Shot put: Sr. Jake Wendt, East Troy

110 hurdles: Jr. Brody Downing, Edgerton; So. Jackson Enz, Big Foot; Jr. Billy Dominski, East Troy

300 hurdles: So. Brady Deegan, Evansville; So. Jackson Enz, Big Foot; Jr. Billy Dominski, East Troy; Jr. Reuben Larson, Brodhead/Juda

100 meters: Jr. Jordan Jones, Clinton

800 meters: So. Chris Nix, Edgerton; Sr. Noah Schiller, Evansville; Jr. Evan Harding, East Troy

800 relay: East Troy (Jr. Allen Olson, Sr. Jake Remza, So. Eli Leising, Fr. Miles McCarthy)

1,600 relay: East Troy (Jr. Billy Dominski, So. Eli Leising, Jr. Evan Harding, Sr. Jake Remza)

3,200 relay: East Troy (Jr. Evan Harding, So. Eli Leising, Jr. Kelcye Demara, Sr. Jake Remza)

Division 3

200 meters: Sr. Hunter Marshall, Parkview

400 meters: Sr. Hunter Marshall, Parkview

Girls track state qualifiers

Division 1

Discus: Jr. Elizabeth Bullock, Badger

High jump: Sr. Meta Ehlen, Burlington; Fr. Katie Chesebro, Milton; Sr. Sydney Collins, Badger

Pole vault: Sr. Hanna Rainiero, Janesville Parker

Long jump: Jr. Eva Laun-Smith, Beloit Memorial; Jr. Megan Wallace, Burlington

Triple jump: Sr. Bree Porter, Janesville Parker; Jr. Eva Laun-Smith, Beloit Memorial

Shot put: Jr. Elizabeth Bullock, Badger; Sr. Maddie Meglic, Janesville Parker; Fr. Julia Hartwig, Janesville Parker

100 hurdles: Jr. Eva Laun-Smith, Beloit Memorial; Sr. Bree Porter, Janesville Parker

300 hurdles: So. Adela Diaz, Beloit Memorial

100 meters: Sr. Jaliyah Elliott, Beloit Memorial

200 meters: Sr. Jaliyah Elliott, Beloit Memorial

400 meters: Fr. Grace Meister, Janesville Craig

1,600 meters: So. Peyton Sippy, Janesville Craig; So. Erin Sorg, Delavan-Darien

3,200 meters: Sr. Taylor Mair, Elkhorn

800 relay: Beloit Memorial (Sr. Shynia Summerville, Jr. Yolonda Johnson, So. Adela Diaz, Sr. Jaliyah Elliott)

Division 2

High jump: Sr. Katrina Santos, East Troy; So. Ashlyn Oren, Edgerton; Jr. Hope Schneider, East Troy

Long jump: So. Ashlyn Oren, Edgerton

Discus: M.E. Dodge, East Troy

Triple jump: Sr. Katrina Santos, East Troy

100 hurdles: Jr. Tori Miller, East Troy

200 meters: So. Madee Harding, Brodhead/Juda

400 meters: Jr. Brooke Wellhausen, Big Foot; So. Madee Harding, Brodhead/Juda; Fr. Rachel Bottum, East Troy

800 meters: So. Cora Purdue, Brodhead/Juda; Jr. Gloria Esarco, Big Foot

1,600 meters: Sr. Taylor Bluemel, Brodhead/Juda

3,200 meters: Sr. Sarah Ziolkowski, Whitewater; So. Allisan Barrett, Whitewater

400 relay: Edgerton (Jr. Maggie Lawrence, So. Ashlyn Oren, Jr. Kathleen Riley, So. Nikkia Johnson)

1,600 relay: Big Foot (Jr. Gloria Esarco, So. Alexandria Demco, So. Grace Gillingham, Jr. Brooke Wellhausen); East Troy (Sr. Katrina Santos, Sr. M.E. Dodge, Jr. Hope Schneider, Fr. Rachel Bottum)

3,200 relay: East Troy (Sr. Amanda Bustillos, Fr. Morgan Bartlett, Fr. Mackenzie Lindow, Jr. Maddie Rosin); Brodhead/Juda (Sr. Amber Pickel, Sr. Taylor Bluemel, Sr. Cameron Novy, So. Cora Purdue); Big Foot (Jr. Gloria Esarco, So. Alexandria Demco, So. Grace Gillingham, Jr. Brooke Wellhausen)

Division 3

High jump: Jr. Serena Slove, Parkview; Sr. Katie Harnack, Parkview

200 meters: Jr. Rodneeya Schwartzlow)

800 meters: Jr. Camryn Burtness, Parkview

1,600 meters: Jr. Camryn Burtness, Parkview

400 relay: Catholic Central (Jr. Kelly Aldrich, Fr. Elizabeth Klein, Sr. Laura Klein, Sr. Brianna Martin)

800 relay: Parkview (Jr. Miranda Connell, Jr. Lexi Olsen, Jr. Serena Slove, Jr. Rodneeya Schwartzlow)

Catholic Central (Jr. Kelly Aldrich, Fr. Elizabeth Klein, Sr. Laura Klein, Sr. Brianna Martin)

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- As unemployment numbers continue to drop and the labor force tightens, the demand for workers in the trades and manufacturing continues to grow.

The future members of that workforce now are in middle school and high school, where they are increasingly exposed to the skills they’ll need.

Legislators and leaders in economic development say developing a skilled workforce is the No. 1 issue facing businesses in Wisconsin.

He didn’t pick the short straw and his new teammates didn’t step backward while head coach Scott Lee was looking for a center at the first basketball practice.

Joe Freeman became UW-Rock County’s starting post player because Lee simply had no other choices. Freeman’s unselfishness and talent helped the 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pounder overcome serious height and size disadvantages in the middle.

Freeman’s team-first attitude and performance were big reasons why the Rattlers finished 19-8 while winning the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference championship after whipping UW-Waukesha, 109-98, in the league tournament semifinals and disposing of top-seeded UW-Marathon, 88-82, in the title showdown Feb. 21.

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