HOMESTEAD BOYS SWIM
The worst number in state Division 1 swimming is 25, as in the 25th fastest time in any one event after WIAA sectional qualifying.
And, in a nightmare scenario, the Homestead boys swim squad got hit with that number three times after Saturday's sectionals leaving them with only 100-yard breaststroke fast heat qualifier Whelan Callahan for Saturday's state D1 meet at the UW-Madison Natatorium.
It happened in both the 200 medley and 200 free relays and to Nick Gess in the 200 free, and it all left veteran coach Mark Gwidt shaking his head.
"We had some 'just-misses' last year, too," he said. "Some of these guys now have a strong idea of what that feels like now. They now know how important it is to be on your 'A' game for an entire 21/2 hour meet."
Gwidt estimated about half the swims the Highlanders turned in at sectional competition at Cedarburg on Saturday where not 'A' quality.
Callahan's was and he will be in the fast heat of the breaststroke when the state D1 finals get under way at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Homestead finished seventh in the 12-team sectional with 200 points as Arrowhead won with 371. Callahan won the breaststroke in a best time of 1:00.36.
The most maddening near-miss was the fifth-place turned in by the medley relay team of Chris Eckhardt, Callahan, Sylvester Schulties and James Guskov (1:42.6). They were just 0.03 away from state. The 200 free team of Gess, John Happ, Guskov and Callahan was seventh in 1:32.25, just 0.26 away.
Gess was fifth in the 200 free in 1:48.87 and he was just 0.02 off state.
Eckhardt was fourth in the 100 backstroke (57.43) and Schulties, the only senior out of the sectional crew, was fifth in the same race (59.68).
WHITEFISH BAY WRESTLING
The Blue Dukes gave a strong go of it in the WIAA Nicolet regional of Feb. 15, almost pulling the upset and advancing 11 grapplers to Saturday's individual sectional at 10 a.m. at Milwaukee Vincent.
"We had seven in the finals and only won one title," coach Dale Loebel said. "You never know how the tide starts to roll. We never got that momentum in that title round."
Still, Loebel's over-achieving bunch will now try to advance qualifiers to the WIAA State Individual Tourney in Madison, Feb. 27-March 1, out of Saturday's sectional. The top two in each weight class move on.
Best chances for the Blue Dukes include Cooper Fergus at 113 pounds (30-12), Miguel Gomez at 126 (27-6) and Steve Meyer at 220 (28-13). Other sectional qualifiers for Bay include Jonah Nelson at 106 (14-17), Justin Weil at 120 (16-18), Jack Plale at 138 (22-18), Joe Lehrmann at 152 (11-19), Conner Claiborne at 160 (2-1), Matt Gottlieb at 182 (6-14), Zach Turner at 195 (0-2), and Joe Beck at 285 (18-18).
Those efforts helped the Blue Dukes to a second-place total in the eight-team regional with 1901/2 points as Wauwatosa won with 2141/2.
Meyer won the only individual title for Bay, pinning both Milwaukee Riverside (0:11) and Milwaukee King (1:46) opponents. Loebel gives both Meyer and Beck (a former 220-pounder) credit for moving up a class in order to give Meyer a better shot at advancing at state.
Taking seconds for Bay were Nelson, Fergus, Weil, Gomez, Claiborne and Beck.
"We had a chance," said Loebel.
Last year, due to injuries and misfortune, the Highlanders advanced only one wrestler from WIAA regional to sectional competition.
What a difference a year makes, as a much healthier Homestead squad moved nine from the Menomonee Falls regional to the sectional at Milwaukee Vincent at 10 a.m. Saturday.
"We lost a couple of matches in the final round that we didn't want to lose, but that will only make us work harder to get ready for sectional," coach Ernie Millard said. "Honestly, I can't remember the last time we had nine (sectional qualifiers)."
Those efforts helped the Highlanders to a strong fourth-place finish in the deep regional that was won by the host Indians over North Shore champ Cedarburg.
Advancing to sectional for the Highlanders included Joe Fischer at 106 pounds (17-20), Zach Price at 132 (30-11), Drew Waller at 138 (25-9), Tyler Denmark at 145 (24-20), Conor Scholtus at 152 (19-24), Zach Lennon at 160 (37-4), Mark Usatinsky at 170 (16-18), Nick Pierret at 182 (11-1) and Gage Zupke at 195 (26-13).
Best bets for advancement include 2012 state qualifier Pierret, Price, Waller, Zach Lennon and Zupke. The top two in each weight class move on to state, Feb. 27-March 1, in Madison.
Pierret won the only individual title for the Highlanders as he pinned both Vincent (2:47) and Falls (1:55) opponents before beating a Cedarburg foe 6-1 in the final. "His fitness level gets better every day," Millard said. Lennon took second.
Jack Kalloch (27-7) won the 113-pound class at the Knights' own regional on Feb. 15 and leads six WIAA sectional qualifiers in action Saturday at 10 a.m. at Milwaukee Vincent.
Kalloch is trying to earn his first state individual tournament berth. His efforts led the Knights to a solid fourth-place finish out of eight in the regional meet that was won by Wauwatosa.
The senior pinned a Pius XI opponent (1:57) and then edged Cooper Fergus of Bay, 4-2, in the final.
He was joined in the winners' circle at the regional by 285-pounder Armani Johnson (16-12), who beat a Milwaukee King opponent (3-1) before edging Bay's Joe Beck (7-2).
Isaiah Agara (15-8) was second at 195, winning an overtime tiebreaker over a Tosa opponent in the wrestleback for second.
Other sectional qualifiers for the Knights include Amani Reid at 120 (3-4), Teague Worlton at 132 (7-8) and Chris Azcueta at 170 (11-22). Worlton wrestled back for the fourth and final sectional qualifying spot after losing his quarterfinal bout. He recorded two pins en route.
SHOREWOOD GIRLS BASKETBALL
The Greyhounds are champions of the Woodland Conference East Division after sweeping both Whitnall (49-36) on Friday and Brown Deer (34-22) on Feb. 11.
They started the week at 11-3 in conference and 14-4 overall as Greenfield is a distant second in the division with a 7-9 record.
They took on South Milwaukee on Tuesday and are now at Greenfield at 7:30 p.m. Friday. It is the first league title since 1972 for the Greyhounds.
In the win over Whitnall, the Greyhounds took a 26-20 lead at the half and then slowly pulled away as Grace Hayes had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Aisling Moloney and Ashley Eimers contributed 12 apiece.
In the defensive struggle against Brown Deer, an 11-5 effort in the third quarter allowed the Greyhounds to take full control at 27-14 as Jada Stackhouse had a big game with 15 points and 16 rebounds and Hayes had eight rebounds and five assists.
BROWN DEER GIRLS BASKETBALL
The Falcons rebounded from the tough outing against the Greyhounds to record two victories, knocking off SWCHA, 42-19, on Feb. 12 and then beating Greenfield, 50-46, in overtime Friday.
The two victories improved the team to 7-12 and gives them six victories in their last eight games.
They host Cudahy at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
In the victory over Greenfield, it was back and forth all the way, as Brown Deer held a two-point lead at the end of the third quarter before the Hawks tied it up at 39 at the end of regulation.
Sabrina Wimer had 19 points for the Falcons while Kendall Laurent helped out with 15.
The Falcons had little trouble with SWCHA, taking a 12-2 lead at the quarter and a 20-4 advantage at the half. Laurent had 14 points, Shayna Key 13 and Wimer 10.
HOMESTEAD GIRLS BASKETBALL
The Highlanders improved to 12-7 overall with wins over Slinger (36-30) on Saturday and Milwaukee Lutheran (53-30) on Friday.
They now visit North Shore leader Germantown in a 7:30 p.m. Friday contest.
Homestead was down 24-21 going into the fourth quarter against Slinger, but then outscored the Owls, 15-6, in the final quarter to pull out the win. Mary Kate Simon had 18 points and Olivia Covill 10 for Homestead.
The Highlanders cruised to a 23-5 first quarter advantage over Lutheran and then never looked back as Simon led eight scorers with 18 points as Marciarae Harmon had nine and Christal Hearn eight.
Homestead played both games without top performer Taylor McIlwraith.
HOMESTEAD BOYS BASKETBALL
The Highlanders remained hot, running their winning streak to six games with wins over Milwaukee Lutheran (79-57) on Feb. 14 and Arrowhead (56-51) on Feb. 11.
They now host North Shore Conference champion Germantown (19-2) in the regular season closer on Thursday. The Highlanders earned the number three seed in the very deep WIAA Division 1 Ashwaubenon bracket and host sixth-seed Sussex Hamilton in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Feb. 28.
If they win, they will likely advance to a regional final on March 1 at second-seeded Classic 8 Conference champion Kettle Moraine, also at 7 p.m.
In the win over Lutheran, the Highlanders outscored the Red Knights, 47-27, in the middle two quarters to break open the game as post Jaylen Key had a huge game with 29 points as Jack Popp had 15, Luke Mueller 12 and Seth Cooley eight.
The victory over Arrowhead was very important for WIAA sectional seeding purposes as the Highlanders pulled out the win with a 21-15 fourth quarter effort, hitting 15-of-20 free throws as compared to just five of six for Arrowhead.
Jerrod Walton had a big game with 23 as Luke Mueller contributed 12 for Homestead.
WHITEFISH BAY BOYS BASKETBALL
The Blue Dukes ran their winning streak to six games with a 68-51 victory over Cedarburg on Friday.
The Blue Dukes improved to 16-5 overall with the victory. They earned the second seed in their part of the WIAA Division 2 Brookfield Central bracket and host the winner of Shorewood and Wauwatosa East in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Feb. 28.
If they advance, they will likely visit top-seeded New Berlin Eisenhower in a regional final on March 1.
The Blue Dukes got off to a slow start against Cedarburg and led only 36-32 at the half, but a 19-10 effort in the third quarter allowed them to pull away as Joe Sherburne had 22 points, Miles Sigh 15, Jake Casey 11, Isaiah Johnson 10 and Christian Lane eight.
NICOLET BOYS BASKETBALL
The 3-17 Knights earned the fourth seed in their portion of the WIAA Division 2 Manitowoc sectional and visit North Shore rival Port Washington in a regional semifinal on Feb. 28.
If they advance, they travel to face the winner of two more North Shore teams Grafton and Cedarburg, in a regional final March 1.
Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. The Knights got belted by North Shore champion Germantown, 84-41, on Friday, and close out the regular season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at home against Milwaukee Lutheran.
Greg Pigg had 20 points in the loss to Germantown.
NICOLET GIRLS GYMNASTICS
The Knights prepared for Friday's North Shore/Greater Metro Conference meet at Menomonee Falls (4 p.m.) with a 132.2-127.475 victory over Brookfield last week.
Rachel Rabenn won the vault (8.6) and Ellen Liang the floor exercise (9.125). Liang was also second in the all-around and the bars (8.475) as Rabenn was second on the balance beam (9.1).
"There is never a day that goes by that the girls give up their dreams to be the best they can be," coach Chris Dempsey said. "I enjoy watching them have fun improving. This is not a job but a passion I look forward to every day."
— Steven L. Tietz
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