WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- It’s 2017, and people don’t gather around the water cooler anymore to talk about what’s going on in their communities.
They gather around their smartphones to comment on Facebook posts.
The technology may be changing, but good local stories always generate a buzz, whether it’s a 20-year-old Sharon woman who overcame life-threatening odds or 19th century shipwrecks as close as the waters of Geneva Lake. As we look back on the year just past, we review five of the stories that really got readers talking in 2016:
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 girls and women’s sports -- next weekend we’ll ring in 2017 with boys/men’s highlights.
Diamonds in the rough
Ace pitcher Jennah Speth and Delavan-Darien weathered a rugged Southern Lakes Conference schedule to earn the school’s first appearance in the state softball tournament.
Then they survived Mother Nature during a game that spanned two days to reach the Division 2 title contest with a 1-0, nine-inning victory over Northwestern/South Shore.
That put the Comets in the state final, where they suffered a 2-1 loss to New Berlin West to end up 25-7.
Speth, a University of Illinois-Chicago recruit, set an all-division record with 22 strikeouts in the opening win and established another mark with 36 combined Ks for Hank Johnson’s squad.
Not running on empty
East Troy’s girls cross-country team turned in a championship performance to earn the Division 2 state title at Wisconsin Rapids on Oct. 29.
And the difference between the Trojans and runner-up Luxemburg-Casco wasn’t decided until sophomore Morgan Bartlett crossed the line in 33rd position among team competitors (and 55th overall), 20 spots ahead of L-C’s No. 5 runner.
That gave East Troy 88 points and the Spartans 108 after the schools were tied through their top four runners.
Freshman Ella Rondeau led the Trojans in fourth place with a 19:11.73, which placed her sixth overall. Their next three runners were freshman Madison Desing in ninth (17th), freshman Christina Nolting in 19th (38th) and senior Madison Rosin in 23rd (45th).
Two other area runners proved they were among the state’s best. Delavan-Darien’s Erin Sorg finished eighth overall (19:16.13) in the D-2 field, while Janesville Craig’s Peyton Sippy captured fourth place (18:44.39) in Division 1.
Burning up the track
Area athletes proved they needed to be reckoned with at the state track meet in La Crosse, bringing back tons of hardware.
Beloit Memorial was the highest finisher in Division 1 with 17 points, good for 15th place. Meanwhile, the Rock Valley dominated in D-2. Jefferson won the crown with 44 points, with Brodhead/Juda seventh (25), Big Foot ninth (21) and Edgerton tying for 12th (18).
In D-1, top finishers included Memorial sophomore Adela Diaz capturing third place in the 300 hurdles; Beloit junior Eva Laun-Smith took fourth in the triple jump and Badger senior Sydney Collins fourth in the high jump; Beloit senior Jaliyah Elliott in the 100 and Parker senior Bree Porter in the 100 hurdles earned fifths; Parker freshman Julia Hartwig finished sixth in the shot put and Beloit’s Elliott in the 200 and Parker senior Hanna Rainiero in the pole vault grabbed sevenths, the latter’s 11-0 showing establishing a Vikings’ record.
Division 2 competitors turned in numerous topnotch performances. They featured Brodhead sophomore Madee Harding, East Troy freshman Rachel Bottum and Big Foot junior Brooke Wellhausen taking fourth through sixth places, respectively, in the 400.
The best finishes came in the relay races, where Big Foot’s foursome of Wellhausen, junior Gloria Esarco and sophomores Alexandria Demco and Grace Gillingham earned the gold in the 3,200 relay (school record time of 9:34.53), avenging a conference meet setback to state runner-up Brodhead/Juda, and second in the 1,600 (3:59.17).
Meanwhile, Edgerton’s group of juniors Maggie Lawrence and Kathleen Riley and sophomores Ashlyn Oren and Nikkia Johnson clocked a 49.36 to earn second in the 400 relay.
Individually, Oren’s effort in the long jump (17-4 1/2) gave her the silver medal and her 5-2 tied her for sixth in the high jump. East Troy received a third from junior Hope Schneider in the high jump (5-5), a fifth from senior Katrina Santos in the triple jump (36-1) and a sixth from senior M.E. Dodge in the discus (124-8).
Doubling their pleasure
Two doubles tandems made their presence felt at the D-2 state tennis tournament at Nielsen Stadium from Oct. 13 through Oct. 15.
East Troy sophomores Mackenzie Lindow and Erin Rice finished off their 23-3 campaign with a fourth-place finish, and the future looks even brighter should they continue to play together.
That’s because they defeated three teams of seniors from Altoona (7-5, 6-2), a fifth-seeded pair from Martin Luther (6-4, 6-4) and Kohler (6-3, 6-2) en route to the semifinals, where they lost to another senior duo and eventual champions, Abby Fox and Maddie Molitor of Edgewood.
Lindow and Rice then fell 7-5, 6-3 to the third-seeded entry from Catholic Memorial.
Meanwhile, Whitewater seniors Milena Maroske and Whitney Treder finished one step behind in fifth place.
They knocked off a team from Regis (6-4, 6-4) and disposed of another Regis entrant, the sixth seed, by a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 score. Maroske and Treder were then downed 6-4, 6-1 by the aforementioned third-place Catholic Memorial tandem.
However, they recovered to defeat a second Memorial pair 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 before beating the Kohler duo 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
Olympic dreams dashed
East Troy’s Annie Haeger and San Diego teammate Briana Provancha were among 15 members of the U.S. sailing team who traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in August.
Haeger, 26, and Provancha were considered a top hope for a sailing medal, competing in the 470 Class.
The tandem had a realistic shot at a silver or bronze medal after the 10 series events, but after a strong start, they faded in the medals race and finished seventh overall in the standings. So, the Olympic dream shifts to the 2020 Games.
Reaching the mountaintop
Lana Wieseman, a Badger High School product, finished her illustrious hoops career at Beloit College.
She ended up as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,639 points and made free throws with 410 while finishing second in scoring average at 17.8 and field goals with 594.
In 2015-’16, Wieseman accumulated three 30-point outings and led the Buccaneers with 20.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, a 52.8 shooting percentage and 28 blocked shots.
Wieseman’s 475 school record for points bettered her junior output of 468. She also established a Beloit College standard with a 37-point showing in 2014-’15, one of six times she reached the 30-point plateau.
The Bucs’ 9-14 overall record gave them their most wins in the last six years, while Beloit finished 7-11 in league play for a third consecutive season.
-- South Dakota State recruit Mia Seeman of Milton, a junior, carded a round of 152, following a 74 with a 78, to share fourth place in the medalist standings in the Division 1 state golf tournament at University Ridge on Oct. 10-11. That effort was an improvement of 20 strokes from her 2015 showing.
-- Janesville Craig junior Erin Donagan stood out at the state swimming meet. Donagan finished third in the 200 individual medley and wound up fifth in the 100 breaststroke at UW-Madison’s Natatorium, scoring all 30 points for the Cougars.
She clocked a 2:04.42 in the 200 IM, more than two seconds faster than her seeding time. Donagan then did the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.62.
The latter effort broke her school record of 1:05.33, which she set at the sectional meet in Middleton, where Donagan also helped Craig create a new standard in the 200 medley relay in 1:54.01.
-- The area wasn’t as well represented as usual, but Whitewater’s Kelly O’Hara and Craig’s Sara Malmanger were bright spots at the state gymnastics meet.
O’Hara grabbed sixth in the all-around in D-2, finishing third in the floor exercise, sixth on the uneven bars and eighth in the vault. Malmanger took third on the balance beam in Division 1.
-- The Rock County Fury qualified for the state hockey tournament for the first time, upsetting top-seeded Middleton, 3-2, in the sectional final at the Madison Ice Arena.
The third-seeded Fury upended Baraboo, 3-1, and second-seeded Onalaska, 3-2 in overtime, to reach the Final Four. Their season ended with a 6-1 setback to eventual champion Hayward in their state opener.
-- Burlington finished 39-10 and qualified for its eighth appearance at the state volleyball tournament, falling short of its third Division 1 title.
The Demons overcame a two-set deficit to win a five-set thriller over defending champion Divine Savior Holy Angels in their opener at the Resch Center in Green Bay on Nov. 3. Then they downed Menomonee Falls in four sets in the semis the next day.
However, Neenah finished 45-4 with a straight-sets triumph in the finale.
-- The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s teams proved formidable again. The women’s softball squad qualified for regionals, the basketball team reached the second round in NCAA Division III tournament action and the volleyball and soccer contingents advanced to the third round of the postseason. Also, three gymnasts won individual event national titles, while the Warhawks finished third in the team portion.
-- Hononegah’s basketball program won its 17th regional crown and is chasing its first sectional title since 2004-’05. Randy Weibel’s squad dominated the NIC-10 en route to a 16-0 mark, finishing 29-3 overall after falling in the sectional final.
Weibel’s teams have a 406-124 mark during his tenure, including a current streak of four straight years of 25 or more victories.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Casey Medema’s organically grown vegetables and herbs have not only graced the plates of diners at Pier 290, a lakeside restaurant in Williams Bay, but they’ve shown up in area food pantries and at farmers market stands.
This is Medema’s second year as operational manager of Farm 290, where his past summer she worked about an acre of land owned by the restaurant’s president, Bill Gage, and supplied Pier 290’s chef with fresh produce for the menu. She also has a greenhouse on the property to help her expand the growing season.
Delavan-Darien winning the division 3 WIAA State Boys Soccer Championship
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.
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.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- The crescendo of an orchestra can be as thrilling as the climax in a blockbuster movie. More often than not, the orchestra makes the movie, setting the mood, pacing and sensational scenes. It’s only through the combined efforts of the entire orchestra that the music happens. The beginnings of those musical moments start much like a well-written concerto, in a classroom.
At a time when school districts across the nation are tightening their budgets, art and music programs are feeling the pinch. Additionally, there is more competition than ever for students’ time, with sports, extracurricular activities, jobs and, of course, social activities.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- For years, Julie Supernaw has seen compassion kindled in young people.
Now she’s channeling it.
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