Reflection of Fall Sports: High Level of State Participation and Titles
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Fall sport teams from Neenah dominated conference play to often advance to state competition.
Here is a reflection of team outcomes, hightlights and hardships.
Boys’ cross country had a great year, making it all the way to state. The team came into the season looking for a conference title and a top five finish at state.
“We had some injuries but the team still had a good year,” said senior Tommy Cianciolo. The injuries Cianciolo mentioned include: Colton Kaszuba, Bradley Gumtow and himself. The boys won four of their seven regular season meets, won the conference meet and came so close to winning their sectional on their way to a seventh place finish at state.
Girls’ cross country had another fine season under Coach Mike Heidke. This season the team was trying for podium finish at conference and a top 15 finish at state. The team had a strong season, finishing well in almost all of their meets.
“I think we got better as the season went on,” Coach Heidke said. The team narrowly lost conference to Appleton North, but did get a big win in sectionals. The team closed out with a 17th place finish at state.
Neenah Football made it to the playoffs for a third straight year under Steve Jung. Neenah Football was looking to win seven games this year and make it to level four of the playoffs. The team, went 5-4 in the regular season, winning three of their last four.
In the playoffs Neenah faced off against Appleton West, in the first round; The Rockets fell in overtime to the Terrors. “I was proud of the way the boys fought all year,” Coach Jung said. The Rockets are looking forward to a strong offseason and coming back next year more physical.
Girls’ golf had a good year going 7-2 in conference games and coming in third at the conference golf meet. During the regular season the Rockets only lost to Kaukauna and Oshkosh West. At regionals, the Rockets finished fourth, one spot away from going to sectionals. Rachel Terry went to sectionals as an individual.
When preparing for the season Terry said, “I spent a good chunk of time just going to the driving range, where I could hit all of my clubs and practice putting and chipping. I also tried to play 18 holes at least once a week.” Terry also won the honor of being second-team all conference.
Boys’ soccer is coming off a season of change, Activities Director Nate Werner took over coaching duties this year. Werner played soccer for UW-Green Bay and coached several programs in Appleton prior to accepting the coaching job.
“I wanted to get across my philosophy this year,” Werner said. The team came into the season looking to get a conference title. Neenah had a tough non-conference schedule with a strong showing at the Kettle Moraine tournament. Inside the conference, Neenah had a strong season, going 7-1 losing their only conference game to Appleton North. Neenah lost their playoff game to Germantown ending a season of change a bit early.
Girls’ swimming and diving had a fantastic year. They started out strong by winning their first dual meet against Appleton North, last year’s conference champions.
“It felt good to beat Appleton North,” senior Cecelia Krause said. Going into the conference swim and dive meet the girls were undefeated. At the conference meet, Neenah once again took down last year’s champions, Appleton North. At sectionals, Neenah beat another swimming giant Bayport. The Rockets showed well at state, finishing 9th overall with Av Osero winning individual diving.
Girls’ tennis had another strong year. After winning the state championship last year many of the girls went into their club tennis season to come back stronger this year. Neenah cruised through conference season 8-0 and won the conference meet.
Neenah won the Oshkosh West sectional to move onto team state. The team played well and made it back to the championship match. “It was exciting and fun to be at state there was less pressure this year,” senior Ellie Callahan said. Neenah lost 3-4 in the championship match to 27-0 Homestead.
Boys’ volleyball had atypical year. They came into the year hoping to win against Kaukauna. The team consistently improved throughout the season; according to senior Ryan Hultman, “We just didn’t have the team chemistry this year.”
The boys did manage to take a set from Kaukauna, which only six teams did. Neenah also had two all-conference honorable mentions: Ryan Hultman and Ryan Frost.
Girls’ volleyball, headed by Coach Bruce Moriarty, won its first championship in 38 years. The team came into the season looking for a conference championship and according to Coach Moriarty, “Everyone knew a state title was possible.”
Neenah went 42-4 this season, winning 28 of its last 29 matches. “No one deserves it more than Mo” said Activities Director Nate Werner. Moriarty also reached a major milestone by getting win number 600 in the sectional semifinal this year.