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.
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.