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Revamped defense key to Hawks’ soccer hopes PDF Print E-mail
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Written by STEVE OSTERMANN   
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 18:58

Reloading back line will be crucial to success of young Grafton boys’ team


The defense has never rested for the Grafton High School boys’ soccer team, and this year should be no exception.

One difference for the Black Hawks, though, will be the challenge of reloading their perennially steady back line.

“We lost a big chunk of our defense to graduation, so we have to find new people to step up there,” said Grafton coach Don Arnold, whose team is coming off a 4-3, third-place finish in the North Shore Conference last season.

“We definitely have plenty of talent coming back, but we may have to move some players around to find the right mix.”

The Hawks, who went 8-8-5 overall in 2010, lost eight players to graduation, including standouts such as Michael Salm, Ryan Kearns, Alex Konop, C.J. Koehler and Nick Markworth.
Kearns was a first-team all-conference defender, and Salm received second-team recognition as a midfielder.

A major plus will be the return of sophomore goalkeeper Killian Mielotz, who won the starting job in his first year of varsity ball and is counted on to anchor the defense.

“Killian is young, but he’s already got a lot of experience,” Arnold said.

Among Grafton’s other returning players, junior Willie McElligott received All-NSC honorable mention as a forward. He led the Hawks with 12 goals last year and should again be one of
the league’s top offensive threats.

“Willie has great speed and ball-handling skills, but he could also help us on defense,” Arnold said.

The Hawks are also counting on leadership from veterans such as senior midfielders Kevin Johnson and Kevin Wegner, juniors Jacob Wilde, Jacob Kellett, Alex Lorbecki, Wolfgang
Pilarski, Nic Bocanegra and Alec Rosenberg and sophomores Zach Greenwood and Matt Salm.

McElligott, Wilde, Kellett and Pilarski are among a group of versatile players who can contribute at a variety of positions. Kellett showed promise as a forward before being injured and
could make a major difference if healthy this fall, Arnold said.

Wilde’s strongest position is center midfielder, but he could contribute as a sweeper, Arnold added.

“Early in the season, everything will really be up for grabs,” he said. “We have a lot of talent, but it’s a question of how it will all fit together.”

Germantown is the defending NSC champion and should be strong again, along with runner-up Cedarburg and Nicolet, Arnold said. Although his young team will be an underdog, he believes it could jump into the title chase.

“We will not be a favorite because of the players we lost,” Arnold said. “But when people are looking at us as being in the middle of the pack, that gives us a chance to surprise them.”

After opening practice this week, the Hawks will face their first competition Saturday, Aug. 13, when they travel to Cedarburg for a 4 p.m. scrimmage.

Grafton opens the season for real at home Wednesday, Aug. 17, with a 7 p.m. nonconference match against Catholic Memorial.

 
Showing their All-NSC mettle PDF Print E-mail
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Written by STEVE OSTERMANN   
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 18:22

Determined efforts put 4 Grafton baseball players on 2nd team; Port Washington has 5 earn honorable mention


At the start of this season, there were some skeptics who believed the Grafton Black Hawks would struggle to be competitive in North Shore Conference baseball.C.J. KOEHLER was one of four Grafton players named to the All-North Shore Conference second team.                    Photo by Sam Arendt

The loss of several standouts to graduation — including Conor Fisk, the league’s best pitcher — left the Hawks well under the radar in naysayers’ eyes.

But Grafton laid those doubts to rest by going 8-10 in the perennially tough NSC and garnering a healthy share of post-season honors. No fewer than five Hawks received recognition in the coaches’ voting, with four named to the all-league second team.

Grafton’s second-team honorees are outfielder B.J. Weisflog, infielder Robbie Doring, utility player C.J. Koehler and designated hitter Ryan Donahue.

Teammate Beau Benzschawel received honorable mention as an infielder.

Five Port Washington players were also given honorable mention — first baseman Max Kaske, infielder Kevin Schmidt, outfielders Zach Hauser and Taylor Devenport and utility player Nick Godersky.

“We were awfully excited to have five kids recognized,” Grafton coach Brian Durst said. “I was also thrilled that we had four of them on the second team.

“All of those guys earned quite a lot of respect from the coaches, which says something about our program.”

Weisflog, a senior center fielder, earned second-team honors for the second straight season. A four-year starter, he batted .333 in conference games, leading the Hawks with 22 hits and 18 runs scored.

Weisflog drove in eight runs, drew eight walks while striking out only seven times, and stole 10 bases in 11 attempts. He had a .405 on-base percentage.

One of the Hawks’ co-captains, Weisflog was named their top defensive player. He had a .980 fielding percentage, committing only one error with 48 putouts.

“B.J. had another outstanding season,” Durst said. “He was great offensively and an automatic defensively.”

Sparking Grafton from the leadoff spot, Weisflog reached base in his first at-bat in 11 of 18 conference games and then scored seven times, Durst noted.

Doring, a junior, anchored the Hawks’ infield as a rangy shortstop. He hit .327 with 18 hits, including five doubles and two home runs.

Doring drove in 15 runs, scored 13 times and had a .527 slugging percentage. He had a .431 on-base percentage and was 4-for-4 in steal attempts.

“Robbie did a great job as our No. 3 hitter,” Durst said. “In the field, he could get to a lot of baseballs that other shortstops couldn’t.”

Based on Doring’s impressive showing, “he will certainly be one of the top players in the conference next year,” Durst said.

Koehler, a senior co-captain, was named the Hawks’ most valuable player for his all-around contributions.

A third baseman/pitcher, he batted .432 with 19 hits, including four doubles, and had a .523 slugging percentage. He had a .528 on-base percentage, drew eight walks and never struck out in conference play.

As a pitcher, Koehler went 4-5 in NSC play. He had three complete games, with a 3.71 earned-run average in 49 innings.

Defensively, Koehler had a .949 fielding percentage, committing only two errors.

“C.J. had a great season, with impressive hitting and pitching numbers,” Durst said. “Whatever we needed him to do, he did it.

“He showed tremendous leadership. He was an extension of our coaches on the field.”

 
Renaissance Rockets PDF Print E-mail
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Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 18:17

New outlook, fresh talent were key ingredients in Cedar Grove-Belgium’s recipe for 2011 baseball success

MEMBERS OF THE Cedar Grove-Belgium baseball team that won a share of the Central Lakeshore Conference championship included (front row, from left) T.J. Obbink, Jim Simmelink, Zach Feind, Christian O’Donnell, Max Strehlow, (back row) manager Steph Ruppel, assistant coach Jarred Lucas, Darren Koopman, Josh Ruppel, Luke Kaat, Zach Paulson, assistant coach Nic Vrubley and head coach Mike Ruppel. Photo by Sam Arendt

The Cedar Grove-Belgium baseball team’s final game was hardly indicative of its body of work this season.imag

A shutout loss to perennial power West Bend West in a WIAA sectional semifinal game July 22 wasn’t how the Rockets wanted to bow out, but it’s hard not to marvel at what they accomplished and what may be still to come.

Cedar Grove-Belgium won a share of the Central Lakeshore Conference title for the first time in 30 years and scored a summer playoff victory for the first time since 1984.

What made the difference this time?

“It was our confidence and us coming together as a team,” junior Josh Ruppel, one of the Rockets’ top pitchers, said late in the season.

“We’re all having fun. We’re talking to each other. And winning’s always fun, too.”

Other players echoed those sentiments.

“We had a new coach (Mike Ruppel), and he just taught us to have confidence,” said junior pitcher/outfielder Darren Koopman.

 
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