Ricky Williams' season heads year's top high school sports stories
From state-title runs to one of the most dominant individual football seasons in the state, 2013 provided a little of everything on the local high school sports scene.
Sometimes things worked out just like many expected—Edgerton senior Andrew Morrison's individual state boys golf title, Elkhorn's Jake Stilling capturing wrestling gold or East Troy's romp to a state volleyball championship, for instance.
Other times, area athletes provided a little more drama—like Brodhead's unexpected (even for themselves) run to the state volleyball tournament, Milton's Kyle Hinners coming out of nowhere at state wrestling or playoff golf for more than a handful of Janesville golfers on their way to state.
It's technically midseason in the high-school ranks right now, but that doesn't mean we can't take a look back on five stories we'll remember from 2013.
The storylines were aplenty as the high school football season neared.
Big Foot looked to keep its dominance in the Rock Valley Conference rolling, the Janesville teams were hoping to get back to playoff form and Edgerton boasted a senior-laden team that might do some damage—though coach Mike Gregory tempered expectations heading in.
Still, no one could have seen Ricky Williams' season coming.
The Edgerton junior entered 2013 on the list of running backs looking to help the Crimson Tide out.
He closed out 2013 by topping the list of running backs in the state.
Williams ran for more yards than any other back in Wisconsin, racking up 2,349 of them. He set the Tide record by running for 343 yards in a Rock Valley crossover victory over Brodhead/Juda, and it all led him to first-team all-state honors.
Williams had plenty of seniors around him to help lead the way, but he helped Edgerton go undefeated in conference play and win a Level 1 playoff game.
He did it all while measuring in at 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds.
When looking back on the year that was for East Troy's girls sports programs, where does one even begin?
The Trojans very nearly pulled off a 2013 three-peat.
In June, the girls track program cruised to the Division 2 state championship. The 3,200-meter relay team of Carly Atchison, Katie Hodges, Frankie Morris and Rachel Atchison set a new state record. They almost set the record in the 1,600 relay, as well, and the Trojans captured the title going away.
In November, many of the track team members were back in the state spotlight in volleyball, and the feats there were even more impressive. East Troy went undefeated (44-0) for the season and finished as the fourth-ranked team in the country. The Trojans topped Oconto Falls and then Madison Edgewood for the title in Green Bay.
And the 2013 run all started back in March on that same Resch Center floor when the Trojans advanced all the way to the Division 3 girls basketball state title game. They lost a heartbreaker, 60-58.
REACHING DOUBLE DIGITS
Next year is going to feel pretty strange.
It'll be the first in five years that Milton's Bridgette Alexander isn't around to win a state high school girls swimming title.
Alexander, who will swim for the University of Kentucky, wrapped up her outstanding career with another state title in November. She cruised to the 100-yard backstroke victory in 56.21 seconds, about .8 seconds off of her state-record pace.
The title gave Alexander—who also found the podium by finishing third in the 200 IM—a whopping 10 individual state titles over her four-year career. She also was a part of two team state titles in 2010 and 2011.
WON'T BACK DOWN
By most accounts, the 2012-13 season was supposed to be a down one for Milton wrestling.
The Red Hawks had lost four dynamic seniors from the year before, and their chances at state weren't all that promising.
Only someone forgot to tell Kyle Hinners and Nolan Shea.
Shea, a sophomore, dropped from 113 pounds to 106 for the Division 1 state meet and consequently found himself on the same side of the bracket as the top three ranked wrestlers. No matter. He worked his way through, topped No. 1 Tres Leon in a semifinal match that few gave him a chance to win and then captured the individual title.
Hinners, a senior, spent his first three years treading in the wake of Milton's “Four Horsemen,” and he simply hoped to provide team leadership in his final year. However, shortly after Shea's triumph, Hinners took the mat against the top-ranked Alex Blaney at 138 pounds. The Red Hawks grappler turned a 2-2 tie entering the third into a 6-3 victory.
It was the first time in program history that Milton had two individual state champions in the same year.
TEAMS OF DREAMS
All season, the Janesville Parker girls golf team talked about what it would be like when it made the state tournament.
“If” wasn't part of the vocabulary. Not even during the late stages of sectionals on their home course, Riverside, when every stroke mattered.
As the final group came up No. 18, Parker senior Taylor Wyss found the trees off the left side of the fairway. Calmly, she found the green with her second shot and two-putted for par.
When the calculators crunched the final numbers, the Vikings and Mukwonago had edged Milton by a single stroke, sending the two onto state.
Still, Parker and Mukwonago went to a playoff to decide a sectional champion. There, on the first hole, Vikings senior Micayla Richards buried a 20-foot birdie putt to lead her team to the title.
One of the most drama-filled hours led Parker to just its second state appearance in program history. The Vikings finished in sixth place in Division 1 at the state tournament at University Ridge.