Milton nets success
The fall sports season has been a whirlwind of success for the Red Hawks’ girls sports programs.
Milton High girls swim has been a perennial Division 2 powerhouse for the last decade.
The Red Hawks’ golf team, led by junior standout Ashton Stair, is teeing off on opponents.
Now you can add girls tennis to the winning formula.
Despite suffering its first Badger South loss to state-rated Madison Edgewood on Tuesday, Milton’s resurgent program is turning heads.
The Red Hawks are 14-4 overall, including 6-1 in the Badger South. Milton was fifth out of seven teams last season in the Badger South, but last week’s impressive 4-3 win over Fort Atkinson cemented the Red Hawks’ place among the conference’s best. Fort Atkinson was the Badger South co-champion and won the conference tournament a year ago. The Red Hawks still have an outside shot at the school’s first conference title since 2004.
“Beating Fort Atkinson was exciting for a number of reasons,” Milton coach Dan Thies said. “They were the (Division) 1 sectional champion a year ago and a state qualifier.
“Plus, I had never beaten Fort,” said Thies, now in his sixth season. “And finally, just the way we won the match was exciting. Becca Kessler came back from 4-1 down in the second set to win in three sets at No. 2 singles, and our No. 3 doubles team also won in three sets.”
Milton’s four singles players—Mary Mosher at No. 1, Kessler at No. 2, Elizabeth Murphy at No. 3 and Lexi Pelton or Sharnay Furseth at No. 4—are a combined 50-14 this season.
Murphy, a sophomore, is 15-2 at No. 3 singles.
“Elizabeth is the big surprise for this team this season,” Thies said. “She was a middle-of-the-JV ladder player a year ago, who worked hard on her game through private lessons and going to camps, and that has really paid off.
“Mary and Becca have been very solid for us at No. 1 and No. 2, while Lexi or Sharnay have both been productive at No. 4.”
Thies said his singles players aren’t going to overpower anybody, but their consistency in every match has frustrated opponents. Finesse has been the key, not overpowering ground strokes.
Senior Megan Burandt and junior Brooke Negus are 14-3 at No. 1 doubles. Thies said those two continue to improve, despite the fact that this is their first season playing together.
“Those two have so much potential, that by the end of the year, they’re going to be a tough out in the tournament,” Thies said.
Seniors Allyson Brissette and Brooke Fearon are 4-2 in the Badger this season at No. 2 doubles, while sophomores Bailee Priewe and Hannah Simes are 5-2 in conference play.
“This program is now at a point where, as a coach, you always hoped it would get to,” Thies said. “And that’s a credit to the girls. They went to camps, stayed active at either the Janesville Athletic Club or at Elkhorn’s indoor facility, and even got involved in a co-rec league that had them playing every Tuesday.
“They’ve made my job as coach a lot easier.”
That seems to be happening a lot this fall at Milton High.