EAST TROY -- The Trojan boys’ tennis team made history by qualifying for the WIAA Division 2 state tennis tournament in Madison.
The team tournament will be held Friday and Saturday, June 9-10, 2017 at Nielsen Tennis Stadium on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. The individual championship was held June 1-3, 2017.
First Team Offense
Quarterbacks: Jackson Enz, Big Foot, Jr.; Zach Mielke, Evansville/Albany, Jr.
Running backs: Peyton Pope, Clinton, Sr.; Owen Goedland, East Troy, Sr.; Brennen Banks, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
Receivers: Pedro Sierra, Big Foot, Jr.; Jackson Erickson, Edgerton, Sr.; Jimmy DuVal, Whitewater, Jr.
Tight ends: Hayden Reese, Evansville/Albany, Sr.; Johnny Espinoza, Clinton, Sr.
Linemen: Brandon Malkow, Beloit Turner, Jr.; Jared Hansen, Brodhead/Juda, Sr.;
Austin Lynd, Clinton, Sr.; Tony Ward, Clinton, Sr.; Chris Storandt, East Troy, Jr.; Lucius Rinehart, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
Athletes: Jordan Jones, Clinton, Sr.; Chase Katzenmeyer, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
Second Team Offense
Quarterbacks: Matt Schmitt, Brodhead/Juda, Sr.; Tyler Halsted, Clinton, Jr.
Running backs: Ethan Burns, Turner, Sr.; Jack Speckman, Brodhead/Juda, Sr.; Zach Krause, Clinton, Jr.
Receivers: Jake Heidenreich, Big Foot, Jr.; Juan Reyes, Turner, Jr.; Noah Nyffler, East Troy, Sr.
Tight ends: Sam Behm, Turner, Sr.; Beau Cary, Big Foot, Sr.
Linemen: Phyllip Brown, Turner, Jr.; Danny Carpenter, Big Foot, Jr.; Clayton Hahn, Clinton, Jr.; John Marschke, East Troy, So.; Ethan Richardson, Edgerton, Sr.; Austin Anderson, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
Offensive Players of the Year: Jackson Enz, Big Foot, and Brennen Banks, Evansville/Albany
Backs of the Year: Jordan Jones, Clinton, and Chase Katzenmeyer, Evansville/Albany
Defensive Player of the Year: Lucius Rinehart, Evansville/Albany
Lineman of the Year: Owen Goedland, East Troy
Coach of the Year: Jeff Spiwak, Clinton, and Ron Grovesteen, Evansville/Albany
First Team Defense
Ends: Olihn Craig, Big Foot, Sr.; Cole Ciochon, Clinton, Sr.; Brody Maag, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
Linemen: Tyler Burt, Turner, Sr.; Jared Hansen, Brodhead/Juda, Sr.; Manny Clotiere, Clinton, Sr.; Owen Goedland, East Troy, Sr.; Lucius Rinehart, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
Linebackers: Connor Mullooly, Clinton, Jr.; Devin Nipple, Evansville/Albany, Sr.; Sam Behm, Turner, Sr.; Mason Malzahn, East Troy, Sr.
Defensive backs: Brekan Day, Brodhead/Juda, Jr.; Jordan Jones, Clinton, Sr.; Chase Katzenmeyer, Evansville/Albany, Sr.; Zach Krause, Clinton, Jr.
Second Team Defense
Ends: Nick Damman, Clinton, Sr.
Linemen: Jake Pieper, East Troy, Jr.; Sean Cox, East Troy, Sr.; Ansel Chesney, Edgerton, Sr.; Noah Pagel, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
Linebackers: Jac Christman, Big Foot, Sr.; Joe Stout, Brodhead/Juda, Sr.; Robert Billington, Clinton, Sr.; Ernesto Magana, Whitewater, Sr.; Skyler Stuckey, Brodhead/Juda, Sr.; Zachary Wienke, Evansville/Albany, Sr.; Jimmy DuVal, Whitewater, Jr.
Defensive backs: Kasey Woodside, Big Foot, Sr.; Jackson Erickson, Edgerton, Sr.; Demetrios Heniadis, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
First Team Special Teams
Kicker: Kade Gransee, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
Punter: Jackson Enz, Big Foot, Jr.
Second Team Special Teams
Kicker: Emiliano Reyes, Turner, So.
Punter: Kade Gransee, Evansville/Albany, Sr.
Edgerton: Mason Simmons, So.; Jaden Johnson, So.
Evansville/Albany: Nate Kleiboer, Jr.; Otis Johnson, Sr.; Brock Gilkes, Sr.
East Troy: Jacob Mast, Jr.; Sam Goral, Sr.; Chase Coleman, Jr.
Whitewater: Daniel Fuller, Jr.; Manny Alwin, Sr.; Will Leibbrand, Fr.
Big Foot: Brennan Malone, Sr.; Devon Rankins, Sr.; Tucker Milligan, Big Foot, Jr.
Brodhead/Juda: Jeffrey Williams, So.; Parker Johnson, Jr.; Trent Davis, Jr.
Clinton: Austin Beaumont, Jr.; Eric Paschke, Jr.; Kenny Ballmer, Jr.
Turner: Sereno Ferone, Jr.; Josh Fell, Sr.; Giovanni Haney, Sr.
Brianna Scuric, East Troy; Kellan Schmidt, Edgerton; Ashlyn Oren, Edgerton; Matison Jakscht, East Troy; Becca Cronin, Evansville; Miranda Karlen, Evansville
Izzy Martino, East Troy; Maggie Lawrence, Edgerton; Julian Friedrichs, East Troy; Bethany Oren, Edgerton
Co-Player of Year: Brianna Scuric, East Troy
Edgerton: Kathleen Reilly, Jessica Danks
East Troy: Natalee Bearce, Katie Zewiske
Evansville: Samantha Kessenich, Trisha Louis
Whitewater: Catherine Yang, Kate Riemer
Abbey Johnson, Brodhead, So.; Gloria Esarco, Big Foot, Sr.; Kampbell Hehr, Big Foot, So.; Camila Hallmann, Turner, Jr.; Chandra Clark, Brodhead, Jr.; Sophia Foster, Big Foot, So.; Nicole Chrislaw, Clinton, Jr.
Payton Courier, Big Foot, Jr.; Kenzie Krizmanich, Turner, Sr.; Jordan Bobek, Big Foot, Sr.; Sami Gonfiantini, Turner, Sr.; Reagan Watts, Parkview, Sr.; Abby Peterson, Big Foot, So.; Baily Kloepefer, Parkview, Sr.; Becca Smith, Parkview, Sr.
Player of the Year: Abbey Johnson, Brodhead
Big Foot: Kennedy Hehr, Sr.
Brodhead: Brooke Malcook, Sr.
Clinton: Kallie Inman, So.
Palmyra-Eagle: Maleny Neubauer, Jr.; Brittany Neuman, Jr.
Parkview: Abby Harnack, Sr.
Turner: Makenna Lauterbach, So.
Midfielders: Juan Mercado, Big Foot, Sr.; Kevin Garcia, Evansville, Jr.
Defenders: Heath Dillenbeck, Big Foot, Jr.; Denver Roberts, East Troy, Jr.; Dineth Gunawardena, Whitewater, Sr.
Goalie: Lars Larsen, Big Foot, Sr.
Utility: Peyton Townsend, Evansville, Jr.
Midfielders: Lewis Kim, Edgerton, Jr.; Ryan Christens, Evansville, Sr.; Eder Lavariega, Big Foot, Jr.; Jake Walton, Whitewater, Sr.
Forwards: Brian Reyes, Whitewater, Sr.
Defenders: Owen Wagner, Evansville, So.; Michael Ferraro, Edgerton, Jr.; Thomas McManaway, Whitewater, Sr.
Goalie: Nic Blair, East Troy, Sr.
Utility: Vince Baxter, East Troy, Sr.
Big Foot: Hamilton Smith, Sr.; Cory Shea, Sr.
East Troy: Max Oldenburg, Sr.; Jared Paullin, Sr.
Edgerton: Ryan Tronnes, So.; Donovan Cone, Jr.
Evansville: Kyle Roth, Sr.; Andy Forster, Sr.
Whitewater: Sergio Falcon, Sr.; Roberto Soto, Sr.
Makenzie Suhr, Edgerton, So.; Sofi Gonstead, Clinton, Jr.
Johanna Brown, Edgerton, Jr.; Hannah Miller, Turner, Sr.; Mali Kruckenberg, Edgerton, So.
First Team Boys
Evan Harding, East Troy, Sr.; Jacob Korf, Whitewater, Jr.; Benedict Gallagher, Evansville, So.; Jacob Smith, East Troy, So.
Second Team Boys
Alex Dias, Parkview, Sr.; Michael Hatter, Brodhead/Juda, Jr.; Nathan Fox, East Troy, So.; Tommy Schueller, Palmyra-Eagle, Jr.; Evan Spencer, Parkview, Jr.; Reuben Larson, Brodhead/Juda, Sr.
Nate Ciabatti, Brodhead/Juda, Sr.; Tommy Larson, East Troy, Fr.; Jordan Laatz, Clinton, So.; Matt Mattingly, Whitewater, Sr.; Brice Enright, Clinton, Jr.; Ryen Hazzard, Edgerton, Fr.; Aidan Coburn, Whitewater, Fr.
First Team Girls
Madison Desing, East Troy, Fr.; Ella Rondeau, East Troy, Fr.; Allisan Barrett, Whitewater, Jr.; Christina Nolting, East Troy, Fr.; Zanzie Demco, Big Foot, Jr.; Maddie Harding Brodhead/Juda, Jr.
Second Team Girls
McKenzie Fillner, Evansville, Fr.; Ava Schroeder, Evansville, Fr.; Antonia Bartolotta, Palmyra-Eagle, Jr.; Madison Rosin, East Troy, Sr.; Holly Pedersen, Palmyra-Eagle, Sr.; Nicole Tomomitsu, Whitewater, So.; Cora Purdue, Brodhead/Juda, Jr.
Carissa Purdue, Brodhead/Juda, Fr.; Morgan Bartlett, East Troy, So.; Jackie Rosa, Palmyra-Eagle, Jr.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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)
200 meters: Sr. Hunter Marshall, Parkview
400 meters: Sr. Hunter Marshall, Parkview
Girls track state qualifiers
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)
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)
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)
Students from East Troy Middle and High School took ordinary sidewalks in the downtown square and created works of art. East Troy celebrated the first "Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival" on May 5. With a canvas of cement and brushes of chalk, the students expressed their inner artistic creativity.
Anticipation for March Madness is reaching a fever pitch as Stateline area teams gear up for the WIAA boys basketball postseason, which culminates March 17-19 at the Kohl Center in Madison from Thursday through Saturday.
Regional action begins Tuesday, March 1, for schools not receiving first-round byes, while everybody joins the fray on Friday and Saturday, March 4-5.
Sectionals in all five divisions are scheduled Thursday and Saturday, March 10 and March 12.
The National Football League hired its first female official in 2015, and the Buffalo Bills hired the first full-time female assistant coach in January.
So, with the penultimate professional game -- Super Bowl 50 -- on tap this weekend, it only seemed appropriate to visit with a couple of Stateline area women who in recent years have joined hundreds of others around the country in realizing their dream of playing football.
Although it wasn’t their goal, two Walworth County residents’ love for the sport is helping change stereotypes and turning heads.
Alexandra Bjelopetrovich of Whitewater and Kara Haines of East Troy are members of the Madison Blaze, an entrant in the five-team Midwest Conference of the Independent Women’s Football League.
“I definitely believe that the ladies of the IWFL and WFA -- Women’s Football Alliance -- are erasing the stereotype of women and football,” Haines said. “Most everyone I tell reacts funny like, ‘No way, are you serious?’ And I’m like so serious. It is intriguing to most, which is good, because most are like, ‘Well, you’re girls,’ so it’s not as good. But when they come see it, they are like, ‘Holy c---, this is legit!’”
Bjelopetrovich agreed that progress has been made, but work remains.
“I think we are making great strides in defeating stereotypes about women in football,” the Lake Forest, Illinois, native said. “The reaction I normally get is, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’ and then the next statement is normally, ‘I didn’t know Madison had a team.’ So there is still a great deal of work to be done as far as increasing exposure and spreading the word.”
Meanwhile, the team conducted tryouts and began workouts in January in preparation for the start of the season in early April.
That means, despite their experience, putting in a lot of hard work because they know the competition won’t get any easier.
“The competition in this league is higher compared to other sports I’ve participated in simply because we are all fighting to show how great women’s football is,” Bjelopetrovich said. “And because it’s not as well known, we get less opportunities to show people. So when we get a chance, we really turn up the heat and make sure it’s worth your while.”
Haines echoed those thoughts.
“All these girls are B-A-D,” Haines said. “A lot of women say, ‘Oh, I like football, but I could never play.’ So for us who do play, we are a special, unique, tough group of women.”
And these two have been mainstays for the Blaze.
Bjelopetrovich is starting her third year with the organization. She has performed everywhere along the offensive line but prefers the center position.
“My strengths are being a good leader and role model and setting an example of what women’s football is all about,” Bjelopetrovich said. “I also believe that one of my biggest strengths is making people laugh and making it fun, because if it’s not fun, who’s going to want to do it? I would like to improve in all aspects of the game. I learn something new every day of every season and want to make sure that I’m never not learning something new.”
The multipurpose and multitalented Haines is more often in the spotlight, playing running back, quarterback and punt and kickoff returner, not to mention as a long snapper and defensive back.
“I love to contribute in any way I can,” Haines said. “I love offense and defense. As long as I’m out on the field, I love playing anywhere.”
Regardless of their roles, both have helped the Blaze become one of the league’s top franchises. And they said participating in the playoffs makes them hungrier to keep playing.
“We have been very successful … one of the top four teams (out of 35 to 40) in the league the past three years,” Haines said. “Competing in the playoffs is what you work hard for all season. It’s a huge honor and rewarding. The playoffs have been the best sports experience I’ve ever had in my life. The level of play is at an all-time high, and the competition is the best in the league. I get to see this beautiful country and play a sport I love. Last year we went to Houston, Salt Lake City and the Carolinas. There’s nothing better.”
Bjelopetrovich said being in the playoffs has been a great experience.
“I have had the opportunity to travel to a lot of new places and played with the best of the best,” she said. “It’s like family vacation with 45 people. It’s a lot of fun.”
It’s that combination of camaraderie and competition that keep both women, lifelong athletes, coming back for more action.
Bjelopetrovich played boys baseball and basketball and was captain of the wrestling team in grade school, moving to Whitewater in seventh grade. She then played tennis, basketball and softball for the Whippets.
Bjelopetrovich underwent reconstructive surgery twice, suffering torn anterior cruciate ligaments in both knees as a prep, but she has avoided any major injuries with the Blaze.
“I always wanted to play football, and when I got into high school was planning on trying out,” said Bjelopetrovich, a clinical systems analyst for UW Health who counts being a paranormal investigator as one of her hobbies. “But my mom drew the line for some reason. I searched online for women’s football and the Madison Blaze came up. I would love to play as long as humanly possible.”
Haines is an East Troy native who earned 13 letters for the Trojans, participating in golf, tennis, basketball, soccer and track. She attended UW-Waukesha for a semester, where she played soccer on the co-ed team just for fun.
“I really went to play basketball, which I did,” Haines said. “Then shortly after first semester, I figured school wasn’t for me.”
That led her to football. She played one year with the Wisconsin Warriors, but then latched onto the Blaze, who were called the Cougars at the time.
“Going into my first year I really just wanted to do something fun to stay in shape, and it turned out to be more serious than I intended,” Haines said. “I’m a competitive person, so that was a good thing for me.”
Three Stateline area teams are seeking WIAA state trophies this weekend, Milton in boys soccer and Burlington and East Troy in girls volleyball.
Here is a look at the roads they must travel:
Milton is making its third trip to state, the first in Division 2. The Red Hawks qualified in Division 1 in 2002 and 2008, losing their opener the first time and reaching the semifinals in ’08.
Milton enters the competitions at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee with a 14-5-2 record after winning the Waunakee Sectional crown with a 2-1 victory over 2013 state champion Oregon.
Ryan Wagner’s Red Hawks disposed of Wilmot, Stoughton and Fort Atkinson by a combined 15-1 margin before downing the Panthers.
Milton will have to pull a major upset to reach the final and/or claim the championship. The Red Hawks open against top-rated Whitefish Bay (21-2-1) at noon Friday. The winner gets first-time qualifier River Falls (13-6-2) or second-ranked Cedarburg (18-0-4) at 3p.m. Saturday for all the marbles.
Whitefish Bay has earned four state titles, the most recent in 1995, and finished second in 2003. Cedarburg has been the runner-up the last two years, giving them five such finishes to go with three state crowns, the last coming in 1996.
East Troy (31-9) was ranked second behind defending state champion Catholic Memorial in the most recent Division 2 coaches poll and faces fifth-rated Altoona (44-3) at 4 p.m. Friday at the Resch Center in Green Bay. The Trojans defeated No. 3 Platteville in four sets in the sectional final.
The winner meets Catholic Memorial (35-14) or fourth-rated Green Bay Notre Dame (38-5) at 2:05 p.m. Saturday for the trophy.
East Troy, the 2013 title winner, qualified for the second time in three years and for the third time overall -- the first was in 1987.
The Rock Valley North champion Trojans didn’t get to face the Railroaders during the 2013 tournament because Altoona lost its semifinal match to Edgewood. East Troy downed Oconto Falls and Edgewood in straight sets to finish 44-0 to take home the top prize.
This is Altoona’s third trip to state, the first coming way back in 1976.
Top-ranked Burlington (42-3) heads the Division 1 field. The Demons tangle with honorable mention pick Verona (33-5) at 7:30 p.m. today (Nov. 5). The winner meets either sixth-rated Oconomowoc (29-3) or No. 8 Neenah (30-13) in a semifinal showdown at 7 p.m. Friday.
The championship match is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday, with defending champion and second-rated Divine Savior Holy Angels a likely foe.
Dan Lynch’s Burlington squad is making its second straight appearance and the school’s seventh overall. The Southern Lakes Conference champions are seeking their third state crown to go with back-to-back trophies in 2011 and ’12 after knocking off league rival Westosha Central in the sectional finale.
The Demons face a Verona group that won the Big Eight title and knocked off Sun Prairie to reach state for a second time.
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