The Panthers celebrate near mid-court moments after winning the regional title. (Rick Benavides/The Report).

Westosha girls volleyball stays steady

By Jason Arndt

When it comes to team accomplishments, 2017 brought a year of historic accolades for several teams, including the Wilmot Union High School girls softball team and Westosha Central boys basketball squad.

While there was no shortage of team milestones in 2017, the year also saw a series of changes in the coaching ranks, notably for Westosha Central girls volleyball.

Additionally, the Wilmot athletic program experienced a coaching carousel in the middle of the year.

The top 10 sports stories, numbers six through 10 ranked below, are based on community reaction that includes celebration.

– Rankings were compiled by Report Staff

6. Wilmot hoops’ improbable run
Entering the WIAA Division 2 boys basketball regionals, the Wilmot boys basketball team were the underdogs, boasting a 5-16 overall record.

The No. 10 seeded Panthers, however, broke the brackets after they won three consecutive road contests, including an upset at No. 2 McFarland to set up a match at No. 3 Burlington.

In Burlington, the upset train continued, as the Panthers edged the host Demons 70-69 after then-junior Latrell Glass sank two free throws with five seconds left of regulation.

When time expired, the Panthers came out with their first regional title since 2015 and gained a measure of revenge on the Demons, who beat Wilmot for the regional title a year earlier.

The regional title set the Panthers up against No. 1 seed Westosha Central, which defeated Wilmot in the sectional semifinal 74-43 on March 9.

In spite of the loss, Panthers coach Jake Erbentraut said the playoff run was an amazing accomplishment.

“It hurts right now, but we are going to look back from this and be amazed at what we accomplished in such a short time,” Erbentraut said after the game. “So many people discounted us, and I am really proud.”

7. Westosha girls volleyball grows
Under new coach Megan Awe, who replaced Charlie Berg after 40 years, the Westosha Central girls volleyball team showed growth following a season where the Falcons were disqualified from the playoffs in 2016.

Despite the loss of five seniors, the Falcons continued to hold their own in the SLC, and came within one game of reaching the WIAA Division 1 state tournament held in Green Bay.

Westosha Central, which finished third in the final conference standings, were led by a youthful, but experienced, group of juniors.

Junior returners included captains Kennedy Muff, a setter, and outside hitter Sierra Lee, along with outside hitter Laura Shoopman and middle hitter Ella Kaebisch.

Additionally, the Falcons received support from sophomore McKenna Hall, and newcomers Twila Dovas, Olivia Hinze and senior Kaitlynn Ellis.

With an energetic squad, the Falcons won three straight playoff matches to set up a sectional final against Burlington.

Even though the Falcons’ lost, which denied them of a state berth, they look to return nearly their entire squad next year.

Westosha Central finished its season 24-20.

8. Wilmot coaching carousel
When Erick Kaiser resigned as both math teacher and head varsity football coach at Wilmot, the decision led to a ripple effect on the athletic program, which saw Keiya Square switch from girls basketball to fill the vacancy left by Kaiser.

Square, who steered the Lady Panthers to three SLC titles in six seasons, returned to original sport where he shined at Delavan-Darien as a running back.

Overall, Square compiled a career 188-86 record between Wilmot and Delavan-Darien, where he started his head girls basketball coaching career.

Wilmot eventually found Square’s replacement in 2003 graduate Jerod Boyd, who returned to the school as a special education teacher after nine years serving the Burlington Area School District, and had coached girls basketball at Burlington Catholic Central for one year.

9. Falcon girls tennis rewrites history
The Westosha Central girls tennis team pulled off its best Southern Lakes Conference finish in school history, producing a 6-1 record in dual meets, and rode the historic wave into the conference tournament at Delavan-Darien where the Falcons took second.

“This is our best year in history,” said Falcons coach Pat Brings, who noted the program was in its 12th year.

Westosha Central, four points shy of champion Lake Geneva Badger, had two conference doubles champions.

At No. 2 doubles, Brooke Wysiatko and Katie Barningham defeated Union Grove duo Kaitlyn Krause and Karissa Francheschina in straight sets (6-1, 7-5).

The Falcons’ other winner, at No. 3 doubles, saw freshman Emily Wermeling and sophomore Kenna Beth defeat Waterford’s Olivia Cammers and Emilie Allen in straight sets (6-2, 6-1).

For No. 1 doubles, Sara Backus and Ashley Wells finished second.

Senior Kelly Wolkober, who saw limited action last season, found her niche at No. 4 singles where she finished second at the SLC tournament.

Meanwhile, in singles play, the Lady Falcons received third place honors from senior Stephanie Dopuch at No. 1, sophomore Janell Gillmore at No. 2 followed by freshman Bojana Bojanic at No. 3.

10. Central golf goes to state
The Westosha Central High School boys qualified for the WIAA Division 1 state golf tournament at University Ridge in Madison following a sectional tiebreaker in June.

The Falcons, coming off a regional title, finished tied for second with host Franklin after the squads completed their rounds at Oakwood Park Golf Course.

Westosha Central, however, defeated the Sabers in the first playoff hole 15-17 to receive their tickets to state.

Freshman Paul Lynch, at No. 2, led the Falcons with a score of 76.

Other Falcon contributors were then-seniors Zack Kramer and Bailey Menarek along with current senior Jack Polick and freshman Gavin Goldstein.


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