New Sabe coach Devoll Sino has the team off to a positive start as they defeated Racine Case, 36-33, in their Southeast Conference opening dual Dec. 1 and then went 3-2 in the Kiel Duals on Dec. 3.
Sino has laid out some baseline goals for the moment.
"As far as the team goes, our No. 1 goal is to get our participation numbers back into the upper 30s to lower 40s," he said. "We are also looking to be more competitive in the conference and see if we can finish in the top three. We are expecting good things from Steve Djurina, one of our captains who was one match away from qualifying for state last year.
"Also looking to have key contributions from captains Alex Riel, Murphy McCutcheon and several other upperclassmen. Our chances for having an above-average season will also rest on our ability to develop a couple of our underclassmen at the lower weights, specifically 106 through 126. We are hoping to build a team that it is known for its mental and physical toughness."
Current starters include freshman Kason Fowler at 106 pounds, sophomore Josh Finerty at 113, sophomore Deylin Ealy at 120, freshman Ethan DeClark at 126, senior Mike Jaber at 138, senior Noah Acevedo at 145, junior Matt Olson at 152, senior Aaron Simmons at 160, junior Noah Rugaber at 170, freshman Jahmil Key at 182, Djurina, Riel at 220 and senior Xavier Gall at 285.
At the Kiel Duals on Dec. 3, the Sabers defeated Kiel (78-6), West Bend West (40-35) and Mishicot (42-33) and fell to Denmark (69-4) and Reedsville (55-19).
Against Case, Franklin was down 33-24 going into the final two bouts, but then both Fowler at 106 (1:44) and Finerty at 112 (2:34) earned pins to give the Sabers the victory. Other wins went to DeClark at 126 (pin 5:53), Mahmoud Jabr at 138 (15-5 major decision), Acevedo at 145 (4-2 in overtime), Rugaber at 182 (pin 1:57) and Djurina at 195 (technical fall).
FRANKLIN BOYS SWIMMING
The still-young Sabers will look to build on their Southeast Conference championship and fifth-place finish in the WIAA D1 state meet behind a talented, powerhouse squad looking to achieve even bigger things, according to coach Ross Lennertz.
They will take on state powers such as Madison West and Middleton in the nine-team Janesville Parker Invite at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.
Lennertz said the team is anxious to get going.
"We are very excited for this season," he said. "We have everyone coming back from our team last year with the exception of Luke Gavronski. We have also had two promising freshman come in, Jack Gardner and Sam Hauke. I am not sure what my expectation should be for these two should be, but I am excited to see what they can do in the upcoming meets.
"Our second-place (state) 200 medley relay is returning (intact) and is looking stronger than ever. We are hoping to have a first place in that race (at state), with medals in the 200 and 400 free relays (too). We are also hoping to medal in each individual event throughout the state meet. This is quite a tall order but something I believe the boys are completely capable of. Either way, it is going to be an exciting season, and we are looking to continue to move forward and prove we are a team that deserves to be recognized."
State-level returnees include sophomore diver Jared Kleczka; the 200 medley relay team of sophomores Justin Craig, Will Lennertz and James Kostrzewa and senior Michael Fischer; and senior DJ Nowacki.
GREENDALE BOYS BASKETBALL
The Panthers continued their successful run through the Milwaukee City Conference with victories of 77-57 over Madison on Dec. 2 and 66-62 over Bradley Tech on Nov. 29.
Greendale had previously defeated Milwaukee Morse-Marshall en route to a 3-0 start to the season.
In the victory over Madison, Vlado Zrnic tallied 22 points, Tommy Kujawa 21 points, Matt Thelen 15 points and James Johnson 8 points. The Panthers were up 36-21 at the half and then closed out the game with 41 second-half points.
The Panthers beat Tech behind 19 points and six rebounds from Kujawa; 18 points and nine boards from Zrnic; 12 points and four assists by Tanner Sebastian; and 8 points from Thelen.
WHITNALL BOYS BASKETBALL
Joey Tilley, filling in for the ill Jonah Bzdawka, played a key role in the Falcons' 78-52 triumph over Westosha Central on Nov. 29.
Tilley guarded Central standout Tre' Williams helping hold him to just 2 points in the first half and 13 overall.
"He put a body on him," coach Steve Kujawa said. "He frustrated him and did a great job of containing him. Every time he gave up the ball, we made sure he wasn't going to get it again."
The Falcons, who improved to 2-1 on the season, led 39-18 at the half and were up by 40 points in the second half.
Tyler Herro paced the offense with 26 points, and Kevion Taylor added 21 points, and they also combined for 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Danny Alexopoulos added 8 points and Tilley 7 points.
WHITNALL GIRLS BASKETBALL
Slow starts continued for the Falcons last week, but they were able to recover from one of them, rallying from a 16-5 deficit to down West Allis Hale, 58-48, on Nov. 29.
Whitnall still trailed, 30-27, at the half but outscored the Huskies, 31-18, in the second half to pull away for the triumph.
Sierra Grubor scored 22 points to go with five rebounds and four assists. Jaden Kelley added 12 points; Jessica Knackert 7 points and three assists; and Kathryn Bay 6 points.
The Falcons fell behind New Berlin West, 12-2, in their second game of the week on Dec. 2 but could not come back this time and fell, 64-41, in their Woodland Conference opener.
Grubor led Whitnall with 13 points, hitting 9 of 10 free throws, and Kelley added 12 points.
GREENDALE ICE FORCE HOCKEY
The Ice Force area hockey co-op is off to a 1-3 start with a very young team.
"We graduated 10 seniors, including two senior goalies who were both solid and our rocks last year," said coach John Kennedy. "We are in a bit of a rebuilding program this year. Although we have eight seniors this season, only six get regular playing time on varsity.
"We are led by seniors Bailey Beierle, Nate McComb, Brandon Peterson, Jack Semanski and Nolan Scholl on offense and Nick Wehrhahn on defense. Returning varsity juniors Alex Goder, Zach Gottfreid, Nate Peterson and Nate Mueller will also munch a lot of minutes this season.
"Several new varsity players are underclassmen but will gain much-needed experience this season for future seasons. They include Steven Delikat, Jordan Ouellette, Graham Lemke, Luke Davitz and Ian Rybarik. One freshman has also caught the coaches attention, and that is forward Dominic Martinetti. Our three goalies are all underclassmen. They are sophomores Jason Cooke, Alex Waystedt and freshman Austin Bartell."
In a 6-4 loss to Brookfield on Dec. 3, the score was tied 4-4 with just five minutes to go before the Stars scored twice to earn the win.
Franklin's McComb scored twice, while Beierle from St.Francis and Oak Creek's Peterson added one each. New Berlin Eisenhower's Cooke made 37 saves.
FRANKLIN GIRLS BASKETBALL
Saber coach Tony Kathrens would like to get off the roller-coaster the team has found itself on this early season.
They fell behind big early and could never quite rally in a 58-41 nonconference loss to Greendale Martin Luther on Nov. 29 before holding off stubborn Racine Case in their Southeast Conference opener, 57-50, on Dec. 2.
Franklin started the week at 2-2 overall.
"Unfortunately, with a young team, it's going to be this way for awhile," Kathrens said. "We fell behind, 15-0, to Luther. That's never happened to us before."
But then the Sabers held a three-hour team-building session on Dec. 3, and Kathrens said it was very productive.
"It was about finding your expectations, how do you believe in yourself. It was a very good experience. Maybe the best three hours we'll have this year."
The Sabers will host Kenosha Bradford on Friday, Dec. 9, and then will travel to rival Oak Creek for a 7 p.m. tilt Tuesday, Dec. 13.
Franklin dominated the Case game, but poor shooting kept it from pulling away. They were up 37-28 at the half, but the score was then tied at 40-40. They eventually rallied to earn the win. Marina Rajkovic and Madison Schell had 14 points apiece to lead the Sabers, while Alyssa Danes had 10. Megan Lee had just 8 points but dominated the boards with 20 rebounds.
Kathrens said the team rallied after the bad start against Luther and got the lead down to five at the half before running out of gas. Lee had 17 points to lead the Sabers, and Quinn Bachofen added 8.
GREENDALE GIRLS BASKETBALL
A strong defensive effort propelled the Panthers past Waukesha North, 42-32, on Nov. 29 in a nonconference game.
Greendale held North to just 13 second-half points to secure the victory.
"That was another great defensive half for us," coach Tim Hogan said. "We held them scoreless for a long stretch."
Kayce Vaile led with 12 points and six rebounds, with Gina Sommerfeld adding 10 points and five rebounds; Cassidy Sanchez 8 points and seven boards; and Allyson Caballero 6 points.
Greendale then dropped a 47-40 game to Shorewood on Dec. 2 in the Woodland Conference opener. Sanchez totaled 13 points and five rebounds; Caballero 11 points and five rebounds; and Taylore DeLong 6 points. Vaile pulled down 11 rebounds.
DeLong hit a 3-point field goal to put Greendale up, 37-36, but the Greyhounds ended the game on an 11-3 run.
The Panthers led, 22-19, at the half, but Shorewood's top scorer, who had been held to 4 points in the first half, burst through for 24 in the second half. Sanchez and Sommerfeld fouled out in the final minutes as well.