Spring sports season warms up
Spring has sprung—at least that's what the calendar says.
And despite one week of deplorable playing conditions that led to an array of postponements and cancellations, the high school spring sports season is in full bloom.
Here's a look at a few area athletes and teams to keep an eye on.
Jefferson is loaded. The defending Rock Valley North co-champions return four all-conference first-team selections and are ranked first in Division 2 to start the season.
Edgerton coach Mike Gregory said he would be “shocked if Jefferson didn't contend for a state title. They're that good.”
The defending Rock Valley North co-champion Crimson Tide find out this week if it can play with Jefferson. Edgerton hosts Jefferson on Tuesday and plays at Jefferson on Thursday.
Edgerton's Lucas Gregory was 9-1 a year ago with a 0.95 ERA, while Walworth Big Foot's Austin Hoey posted a 1.75 ERA and had 112 strikeouts in earning all-Rock Valley South first-team honors a year ago.
Sun Prairie continues to be the class of the Big Eight. The Cardinals have won back-to-back Division 1 state titles and four straight Big Eight titles.
Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker have both gotten off to strong starts.
Led by junior shortstop Nick Blomgren, the Cougars are 3-0 and gearing up for a visit from Sun Prairie on Thursday at Riverside Park. Blomgren has started the season 6-for-8 with eight runs scored and eight RBI.
Parker is 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Eight and has two quality starters in sophomore left-hander Hunter Van Zandt and senior right-hander Collin Powers. Van Zandt struck out 20 batters in two outings.
Stoughton looks to be the team to beat in the Badger South, while the Rock Valley South is up for grabs as graduation hit defending champion Orfordville Parkview hard.
Delavan-Darien is the early surprise team. The Comets are 2-0 in the Southern Lakes and 3-2 overall.
Monroe is the defending champion in the Badger South and a state qualifier the last three seasons, but Milton could challenge the Cheesemakers. The Red Hawks, led by pitchers Kayla Negus and Courtney Terrill, along with outfielder Maddie McCue, are an experienced and talented team. McCue earned an all-state third-team selection last season and seems to get at least two hits every game. She's 10-for-18 to start this season and has scored eight runs in five games, while Terrill has been a model of consistency on the mound. Negus missed all of last week on a school field trip but was a first-team all-conference selection a year ago.
Janesville Craig finished third in the Big Eight a year ago and already has what might be the most impressive win of the season. The Cougars stunned Madison La Follette and star pitcher Nicole Newman, 1-0, on Tuesday. Craig shortstop Al Hughes is a three-year starter and an all-Big Eight first-team selection a year ago.
Edgerton failed to win the Rock Valley North title last season for the first time in five years but returns seven starters.
The battle between Beloit Turner and Brodhead for the top spot in the Rock Valley South should be entertaining. The Trojans have the early edge thanks to the return of pitcher and 2013 Player of the Year Kelsie Packard, and a 5-0 win over the Cardinals in the season opener.
While the Delavan-Darien baseball team is off to a hot start, nobody is hotter right now than Comet softball pitcher Jennah Speth. The sophomore threw two no-hitters last week and is averaging nearly 10 strikeouts per game.
Edgerton won the Division 2 state title in 2012 and was runner-up a year ago. The Crimson Tide return three of five varsity players, led by senior Brooks Johnson, who was 10th at state a year ago. Senior Drew Pipik and junior Caleb Johnson also return.
Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker don't have the depth to contend for a Big Eight title but both have solid No. 1 players.
Parker junior John Milner qualified for state last year and opened the 2014 season with a 6-over par 76 Wednesday at Krueger-Haskell in a Big Eight triangular.
Craig senior Nolan Moran fired an impressive 2-over-par 73 in the Cougars' opener Tuesday at Glen Erin.
Big Foot sophomore Luke Bourneuf tied for 10th at last year's Division 2 state meet.
Evansville has set its sights on a Rock Valley Conference title. The Blue Devils are off to a 3-0 start and have not allowed a goal yet. Goalkeeper Hannah Anderson has been a rock for Evansville, which will be tested Thursday night at Walworth Big Foot/Williams Bay.
Janesville Parker is not ready yet to tangle with the Big Eight's best, but the Vikings got an important win for the program on Thursday. Parker slipped past Madison La Follette, 2-1, to earn the program's first conference victory in more than five years. The Vikings were winless in 2013.
Milton is off to a 2-0-0 start, including 1-0-0 in the Badger South.
Lake Geneva Badger is 2-0-0 on the season, including an impressive 1-0 win over a much-improved Beloit team.
In a sport dominated by Milwaukee-area schools, it's tough to gauge what might unfold for area teams and players. Milwaukee Marquette, a private school, has dominated Division 1, while another private school, University School of Milwaukee, has had a stranglehold on Division 2.
The area will certainly send a couple of individual qualifiers to the state meet, but not likely any teams.
Track and field
East Troy won the girls Division 2 state title a year ago and returns a wealth of talent. Senior Bryzena Santos took third in the long jump a year ago while younger sister, Katrina, finished fifth in both long jump and triple jump.
Clinton senior Heather Buckler was second at state in D2 in shot put a year ago, while Whitewater junior Kailey Reynolds was fourth in the 100-meter dash.
Edgerton's Cason Cleveland is the boys defending Division 2 champion in pole vault. Cleveland cleared 14 feet to win state a year ago.
Janesville Craig junior Ian Reinicke was fifth at state in Division 1 in triple jump and eighth in long jump.