Westosha’s Reid McNeill (left) and Hunter Valach of Wilmot represented Western Kenosha County in state wrestling last year.

6. Westosha’s battle with Burlington girls volleyball continues
After winning the first two rounds at the Oct. 13 Southern Lakes Conference tournament, the Westosha Central High School girls volleyball team faced familiar opponent Burlington in the title match, just four days after the Demons handed the Falcons their lone conference loss of the season.

The Falcons, who dropped the first set to the Demons 25-19, overcame a 10-1 deficit in the second set to win 26-24, which set up a pivotal third set.

Carrying the momentum into the third set, the Falcons jumped to a 3-0 lead, and later claimed the match with a 15-13 victory to claim a share of the SLC championship.

Junior McKenna Hall, who delivered the decisive second set spike, acknowledged the contest with Burlington would be a battle.

“Today, I knew we all just had to stick together as a team,” said Hall. “We lost to Burlington in the past, we had to keep a good mindset.”

In WIAA Division 1 play, the second-seeded Falcons opened with a sweep against Wilmot, which set up a regional title match with No. 7 Fort Atkinson.

Like the match against Wilmot, Westosha Central defeated visiting Fort Atkinson in three games, 25-18, 25-17, 25-21, to claim a regional title.

After the regional title, the Falcons pounded Oregon in the sectional semifinal, where they defeated the sixth seeded Panthers, 25-18, 25-9, 25-17 on Oct. 25.

The sectional semifinal, meanwhile, set up a sectional final showdown with Burlington.

The Falcons, however, were swept by the top-seeded Demons, 25-21, 25-22, 25-14, despite receiving a game-high 14 kills from Laura Shoopman.

“Burlington has always been strong competition, we haven’t seen them a lot this season, they played a great game, we battled hard and the outcome is what it was,” she said. “We gave it our best on the court and that is all you can do sometimes.”

Westosha Central finished its season 35-11.

7. Wilmot’s Valach, Falcons’ McNeill punch state wrestling tickets
A year after Westosha Central and Wilmot were shutout from state representation after sectionals, the two area schools each sent one wrestler to the WIAA Division 1 state meet, including sectional title winner Hunter Valach from Wilmot.

Falcons senior Reid McNeill, who placed second at 182, was the other state qualifier.

Valach, a 170-pound senior, captured the championship after winning a 4-2 decision to Stoughton’s Luke Geister-Jones (38-13).

The Panthers senior, who coasted in his first two matches in the Feb. 17 sectional at Fort Atkinson, said the title accomplishes a mission he had.

“It is something I always dream about, and when I won my last match, I realized it,” said Valach, who was down 2-0 until he earned four points on a takedown. “In that match, I had a takedown, and then I just rode it out the rest of the way. It was probably one of my best matches technique wise.”

Valach’s title is his third straight, starting with a Southern Lakes Conference championship followed by a regional victory.

Wilmot coach John Watson, whose team had seven total sectional qualifiers, believes positioning and limiting opponent opportunities have been critical for Valach’s success this year.

“I think his season long consistent is in part due to his ability to stay in good position and really limit any openings he gives opponents,” Watson said.

Meanwhile, for McNeill (32-10), the Westosha Central wrestler qualified for the state meet when he pinned Elkhorn’s Nathan Welsh (23-24) in 4 minutes, 39 seconds in the second place wrestle back bout.

McNeill, who advanced to the title match, but lost a 6-4 tight decision to Brooks Empey (29-19) of Stoughton, said his sectional appearance was an unbelievable improvement from previous years.

“It is a pretty unique feeling to go from losing in the first round at sectionals the last two years to qualifying this year, my senior year, it’s just unbelievable,” said McNeill.

Valach, who won his first match at the state meet, dropped the next two bouts to finish his senior season 36-6.

McNeill, meanwhile, concluded his final season 36-11 after he lost his first match.

8. Wilmot’s Andersen claims sectional tennis title, qualifies for state for 3rd time
Wilmot senior Bianca Andersen, who advanced to the WIAA Division 1 state tennis meet as a special qualifier as a sophomore and junior, earned an automatic bid her final season after she defeated Lake Geneva’s Zaya Iderzul to win the sectional title.

Andersen, a two-time Southern Lakes Conference Athlete of the Year, entered the state meet boasting a 22-4 overall record.

Andersen, seeded 12th at the state meet, defeated Oshkosh North’s Courtney Day (6-1, 6-1) and advanced to the second round for the third consecutive year.

Although Andersen dropped the second round match, she took opponent Natasha Bailey, of Wausau West, to the third set.

Additionally, since she advanced to the second round, Andersen finished in the upper half among 56 athletes who qualified for the meet.

9. Area boys tennis players make state
In Western Kenosha County, qualifying players for the WIAA Division 1 state tennis is a rare occurrence and for the first time in a single season, both Westosha Central and Wilmot Union high school each had representatives in at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison last spring.

For Westosha Central, which qualified three athletes, coach Paul Brings could not be prouder of his players.

“The big thing is they qualified, they were not special qualifiers,” he said. “They all did an outstanding job and couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Representing Westosha Central were then-sophomore Cooper Ferruzi in singles play, and for the doubles, graduating seniors Colin Mast and Trevor Millhouse.

Both Ferruzi and the doubles team each advanced to the second round, with Ferruzzi defeating senior Brandon Beihoff (11-15) of Brookfield in straight sets at 7-5, 6-1.

Ferruzzi, however, faced challenge in the second round, where he played 14th-seeded Aidan Schutter (21-11), a junior from Sun Prairie. Schutter edged Ferruzzi, 6-1, 6-1.

Although Ferruzzi dropped the second round match, Brings came away impressed, considering the sophomore played against experienced and seeded competition.

“For a sophomore to make a state appearance, and win a match, that is an impressive accomplishment,” he said.

Ferruzzi finished his sophomore campaign 20-4.

Meanwhile, in doubles play, Mast and Millhouse downed Marshfield duo Jared Cordova, a sophomore, and senior Braeden Corteen, 6-3, 6-4 (15-6) to move to the second round.

In the second round, against No. 10 seed Jordan Oaks and Cole Roecker (19-4), both juniors from Kettle Moraine, the Falcons duo lost 6-3, 6-0.

Kettle Moraine, according to Brings, has always been a competitive force on the state stage.

As the senior duo conclude their careers, Brings said two showed a commitment on the court, often practicing together during the winter months of December, January and February to prepare for the season.

Additionally, Ferruzzi also showed similar commitment.

“They were all committed to playing better,” Brings said.

For the Panthers, they were represented by seniors Alex Tenhagen and Nolan Souders (11-5) in doubles play.

According to Wilmot coach Lisa Obertin, who also guides the girls program, the doubles team was the first boys to represent the school since 2012 when Jason Anderson and Brandon Rouley appeared at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.

“It was great that they got to represent Wilmot, that Wilmot was represented this year.” she said. “It was nice to see some Wilmot boys represented.”

They received special qualification after dropping a match during sub sectionals.

“They were super-excited, because they didn’t get their hopes up that it was a possibility,” she said.

The duo, meanwhile, dropped its first round match to seniors Michael Tang and Tommy Ebben (23-10) of Waukesha South, 6-0, 6-1.

10. Sophomore Zuehls had breakout track season, broke records
For Nyssa Zuehls, a then-sophomore at Wilmot Union High School, she had a banner 2018 track season.

Zuehls, who claimed a Southern Lakes Conference title in the pole vault at 10-0 to break a school record, reset the record three more times in WIAA Division 1 post season competition.

At the WIAA Division 1 regional, she matched her personal record of 10-0 to claim the title, but supplanted it at sectionals with a leap of 10-6 to capture another title.

However, she then broke her own school record at the WIAA Division 1 state meet with a score of 11-0.


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