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Get the inside scoop on Eau Claire area sports from the guys who know it best.


Friday February 26, 2010

Contact: Sports Editor John Casper Jr. • 715-833-9212 • 800-236-7077 •

WIAC WOMEN'S SEMIFINAL: UW-WHITEWATER 73, UW-EAU CLAIRE 68 Championship: UW-Stevens Point at UW-Whitewater, 3 p.m. Saturday.

Experienced Warhawks top Blugolds


Back to work

By Justin Harings

Leader-Telegram staff WHITEWATER — UW-Eau Claire has been that team before. It will be that team again. It just wasn't that team this year. The Blugolds eventually lost their season because of it. UW-Whitewater, full of poise and biggame experience, leaned on its seniors to shake the gritty youngsters from UW-Eau Claire, 73-68, in the semifinals of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament Thursday night at Kachel Gymnasium. "I think it came down to Mesick experience," said Blugolds center Hannah Mesick, who finished her junior season with 998 career points. "Credit to them: They found a way to win. We had some key people foul out and just couldn't get it together." Behind 58 points from four senior guards, the top-seeded Warhawks (20-6) advanced to host UW-Stevens Point in the WIAC tournament championship at 3 p.m. Saturday. See BLUGOLDS, Page 3D

Blue Devils Men Fall Matt Moses scored 23 points and UW-Stevens Point ended UW-Stout's season in the WIAC semifinals. Jerre! Enerson-Matthews scored 22 in the loss. Story, Page 3D.



Flease guides Pointers as Blue Devils By John Casper Jr. Leader-Telegram staff STEVENS POINT — Turnovers and Andrea Flease put an end to UW-Stout's season. Flease, a junior guard on the UW-Stevens Point women's basketball team, scored seven of her team-high 28 points over a crucial 2-minute stretch in which the Blue Devils had three turnovers. The disparity gave the Pointers enough breathing room and they held down a scrappy UW-Stout squad down the stretch for an 82-74 victory in a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament semifinal game Thursday night at Berg Gymnasium. Flease hit a 3-pointer and a Flease couple of layups to give UW-Stevens Point a 73-65 lead with 4:27 to play. The flurry came after Eau Claire Memorial product Josi Schultz broke a 62-all tie with a layup and a rebound basket off her own miss. The Blue Devils cut the lead to 73-68 on a three-point play by Julia Hirssig, but that's as close as they would come. Flease scored on a reverse layup and later blocked a 3-point attempt by Danielle DeWitt. See DEVILS, Page 3D

Photos courtesy of Bemidji State University

Lance Rongstad, who helped Eleva-Strum to the 2007-'08 WIAA Division 4 state championship is averaging 12.8 points per game for Division II Bemidji State. Rongstad, a freshman, is the reigning Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference player of the week.

Rongstad enjoying return to court By Joe Ziemer Leader-Telegram staff He got the itch last year. And the more he had to sit and watch, the stronger that itch got. There was a reason Lance Rongstad insisted Bemidji State give him the option. He was ready and willing to sign a Division II football scholarship. But he didn't want to give up basketball. Guys as competitive as Rongstad just don't quit a sport cold turkey. "It was too big a part of my life just to give it up when I still had the opportunity to play," Rongstad said. "I still have too much fun doing it." So it's no big surprise to those who know him that Rongstad is back on the basketball court. And to those who watched him play at Eleva-Strum, it's no surprise that he's excelling. After wrapping up his first collegiate football season, Rongstad pulled on a basketball uniform for the first

time since leading the Cardinals to the 2007-'08 WIAA Division 4 state title. And he's playing well. His athleticism, versatility and most importantly, his all-out, noprisoners style have made Bemidji State a different team. "It absolutely changed our team," Beavers coach Matt Bowen said. "You hear coaches talk about toughness. You probably hear it at every level. But you just can't teach that type of stuff. When a kid has that competitive drive and toughness, other kids on the team feed on it and thrive off it. It makes everyone's energy level a little higher and everyone concentrates a little more. He's a fun kid to be around." Though he signed to play football with Bemidji State, basketball was always in the back of Rongstad's mind. He thought of pulling double duty in his first year on campus. See RONGSTAD, Page 3D

WIAA WRESTLING INDIVIDUAL STATE TOURNAMENT Continues 10 a.m. today at the Kohl Center in Madison. For a live blog from the Kohl Center, visit .

Goss in consolation bracket By Leader-Telegram staff Jonah Goss is still alive at the WIAA wrestling individual state tournament. The Eau Claire Memorial junior, the city's only representative at state, will compete in the Division 1135-pound consolation bracket today. Goss lost his preliminary match to Green Bay Preble/ East's Marshall Pennings by a 5-2 decision. When Pennings went on to win his quarterfinal, Goss was sent to the conPhoto by Derek Montgomery solation bracket. He'll face Baldwin-Woodville's Zac Weyer (left) defeated Adams-Friendship's Nick Davis by Reedsburg's Tony Koch. Chippewa Falls sophomore way of a 16-4 major decision Thursday evening in the opening round of the WIAA Izzy Balsiger also will try Division 2 wrestling individual state tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison.

■ For all of Thursday's area results, see Page 4D.

to work his way through the consolation bracket to a third-place finish. Balsiger decisioned Stoughton's Nick Urso, 10-5, in the prelims but fell to Muskego's Justin Scherkenbach, 16-14, in the quarters. Balsiger's Cardinals teammate Stuart Schindler also will be in consolation action today at 171. In Division 2, BaldwinWoodville's Zac Weyer will take aim at the podium after winning his quarterfinal

match by a 16-4 major decision over Adams-Friendship's Nick Davis. Stanley-Boyd/Thorp's Greg Ponick moved on with a pin of Mishicot's Joe Tulachka at 171. In Division 3, a trio of Cadott wrestlers won their opening matches. Josiah Yeager edged New Lisbon's Zachary Oleson in a 7-6 decision at 119. Roy Munroe moved on at 145 with a 16-0 tech fall victory over Wild Rose's Abi Colon. And at 160, Gage Burish pinned Horicon's Mike Butterbrodt. All three Hornets will be back on the mat today in the late morning.

Friday, February 26, 2010 LEADER-TELEGRAM


COLLEGE BASKETBALL WIAC MEN'S SEMIFINAL: UW-STEVENS POINT 87, UW-STOUT 72 Championship: UW-Stevens Point at UW-Whitewater, 7 p.m. Saturday.

Pointers surge past Devils

Photo courtesy of Bemidji State University

Freshman Lance Rongstad is playing well for both the football and basketball teams at Division II Bemidji State.

Rongstad/Freshman earns conference honors from Page 1D

It's been the same Those thoughts, however, formula were put on hold when that he broke his thumb playhelped ing football. It was a fluky Rongstad injury suffered during lead an end of season scrimElevamage for redshirt players. Rongstad Strum Rongstad dropped back to the to pass, threw and hit state title. His size and his thumb on someone's strength allow him palm. It broke. to overpower smaller So Rongstad had guards inside. Yet he's surgery and then sat and athletic enough and has watched while buddies enough shooting ability like Jake Lindstrom and to play like a traditional Bryce Tesdahl played shooting guard. That was ball. Thus, the itch. the same combination "After sitting through that made him a nightthat season and watchmare matchup in the ing them play, it really Dairyland Conference sparked the urge to play and the runaway winner again," Rongstad said. of the Leader-Telegram's Eventually in FebruAll-Northwest player of ary of last year, Rongstad the year award. approached Bowen and Rongstad currently told him he wanted in. ranks second on the Bowen, whose father, team in scoring at 12.8 Rick, was the longtime points per game. And coach of UW-River Falls, that average steadily knew all about Rongstad. has increased as he's And knowing football readjusted to basketcoach Jeff Tesch was ball. In conference hot on the Eleva-Strum play, he's averaging 15.2 standout's heels, Bowen's points per game. He recruitment involved set a new career-high one letter. It more or less with 29 points in Satursaid, we know who you day's 88-86 victory over are and we like what you Winona State. That made do. So when Rongstad him the first freshman to approached him, Bowen earn Northern Sun Interwas all smiles. collegiate Conference "I said when you want player of the week honto play, let me know and ors. Wednesday he had we'll get you a spot," 23 points and 11 rebounds Bowen said. "It's been in a 98-90 win over Minhappy times from there." nesota-Duluth. It was So after completing his the fifth consecutive vicredshirt freshman seatory for the Beavers, who son of football — one in wrap up the regular seawhich he played quarson Saturday at Wayne terback, running back State and begin the NSIC and wide receiver while tournament Monday. finishing second on "I didn't think I'd come the team in total yards in and be that big of a — Rongstad joined the scorer," Rongstad said. Beavers basketball team. "But my favorite thing Admittedly, it took to do is play defense, get some time to get his sea after loose balls — be an legs back. Bowen brought a energy guy." him along slowly. RongThat's been Rongstad's stad joined the team in trademark throughout late November followhis career. He's tough ing the exhibition seaas nails and a relentless son, which regrettably defender. And there's no caused him to miss out doubt in his coach's mind on playing the Badgers that Rongstad's competiat the Kohl Center. He tive fire and energy has played sparingly at first transformed the team. If before joining the starthe ever needed proof, it ing lineup and helping came when a concussion the Beavers to an 88-87 sidelined the all-action overtime win at Winona Rongstad for a week. State on Dec. 12. "I'm surprised he's not "I'd say it took me at hurt more," Bowen said. least a good month of "He's a bull in a china getting back into shape, shop. He leads with his getting my legs back and nose, he's constantly getting a feel for the ball diving on the floor. He again," Rongstad said. attempts to get every That feel is back. rebound and he goes Bowen said Rongstad's after everything." been used everywhere No surprise there. It's from off guard to center. the same old Rongstad.

By John Casper Jr. Leader-Telegram staff STEVENS POINT — It took the UW-Stout men's basketball team two months to get to this point. A 51/2-minute stretch took it all away. One big run was all it took for UW-Stevens Point to beat the Blue Devils, 87-72, in a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament semifinal Thursday night on Bennett Court in Quandt Fieldhouse. The 21-2 run turned what was an eight-point lead for UW-Stout into an 11-point deficit and ultimately ended the Blue Devils' season. "You can't allow a good team like Stevens Point to get momentum," UWStout coach Eddie Andrist said. "Give them credit. They Enersondid a really good Matthews job. Defensively, we just couldn't stop them. I don't know how many scores they had in a row, but it was a lot." The Blue Devils rallied from a seven-point deficit in less than 2 minutes against UW-Platteville to win on a last-second shot in the quarterfinal, but had no such luck in their first semifinal game since 2006. They had an opening, forcing consecutive turnovers by UW-Stevens Point in a 76-68 game with 3 minutes left. But senior Michael Fant missed a challenged inside shot and an open 3-pointer. Jared Jenkins threw down a thunderous dunk over a UW-Stout player with 1 minute, 53 seconds left and the Pointers were never in trouble down the stretch. "We had a great mindset and a great attitude," UW-Stevens Point coach Bob Semling said. "We knew we were going to play against a hot team. Maybe the hottest team in our league, and maybe one of the the hottest teams in the country. We knew we were going to have to handle a lot of punches and we were going to have to weather some storms." UW-Stevens Point, who was ranked No. 1 at one point this season, advanced to play in their fourth straight WIAC championship game

but it was all UW-Stevens Point over the next 3 minutes as the Blue 4-12 0-0 9, Erik Olson 2-2 0-0 4, Jerrod Buchholtz 2-5 0-0 Devils had four straight turnovers. 5, Steve Pax 0-1 0-0 0, Nathan Staid! 3-4 1-1 7, Chris Jardine 0-0 0-0 0, Jerrel Enerson-Matthews 9-19 2-2 22, Included in that stretch was a costly, Danny Pengra 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan Nelson 0-1 0-0 0, Michael Fant 4-10 2-2 11, Mahlon Thomas 7-7 0-0 14, off-the-ball foul call on Thomas, Grant Franzen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 31 5-5 72. UW-Stevens Point — Tyler Tillema 0-1 0-0 0, Jerrel which was his third. Harris 2-5 0-0 4, Jordan Giordana 0-2 0-0 0, Dan Tillema UW-Stevens Point scored on nine 3-3 3-4 10, Matt Moses 5-10 12-13 23, Jared Jenkins 5-8 1-3 12, Ross Forman 2-5 2-2 8, Louis Hurd 6-12 1-1 straight possessions in the run, 14, Nick Krull 4-7 2-4 10, Scott Hoelzel 2-4 2-2 6. Totals: 29 23-29 87. which finally came to an end after 3-point goals: UW-Stout 5 (Hostetter, Buchholtz, Enerson-Matthews 2, Fant), UW-Stevens Point 6 (Forman 2, Hostetter drilled a pull-up 3-pointer Hurd, Jenkins, Moses, Tillema). Rebounds: UW-Stout 31 with 7:33 to play. (Hostetter 7), UW-Stevens Point 33 (Forman 9). Assists: UW-Stout 9 (Enerson-Matthews 4), UW-Stevens Point 13 But the damage had been done. (Jenkins 4). Total fouls: UW-Stout 23, UW-Stevens Point 10. Records: UW-Stout 16-12; UW-Stevens Point 22-4. UW-Stout wouldn't get closer than six points the rest of the way. Saturday at UW-Whitewater. The The Blue Devils, who led for Blue Devils, who had a remarkable most of the game before the Pointturnaround season in which they ers went on their run extended their beat both the Pointers and Warfour-point halftime lead to 10 with hawks and won 9 of their last 12 an early run. Hostetter scored on a conference games after an 0-4 start, layup then Fant and Enerson-Matthews hit consecutive 3-pointers off ended 16-11. Senior Jerrel Enerson-Matthews, UW-Stevens Point misses and UWwho hit the game-winning 3-pointer Stout led 46-36 with 17:21 left. at the buzzer against the Pioneers, But the Pointers quickly cut it back to four. Ross Forman answered led the Blue Devils with 22 points. Junior Mahlon Thomas, who didn't the second 3-pointer with a 3 of his miss a shot, finished with 14 but had own. After a UW-Stevens Point timjust two points in the second half. eout and a UW-Stout turnover, Matt "I'm real disappointed with how Moses hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead we finished the 9 minutes," Andrist to 46-42. said. "But hats off to my seniors. Enerson-Matthews responded The finality of the season is always with a three-point play, pushing tough to take." UW-Stout's lead to 49-42 by the first Matt Moses, who suprassed the media timeout of the second half. 1,000-point mark in the first half, UW-Stout led by as many as nine had a game-high 23 points to lead points in the first half because it UW-Stevens Point (22-4). Louis whipped the ball around on offense Hurd added 14. and was active on defense. UW-SteDefensively, the Pointers keyed vens Point got back into it with a 7-2 on UW-Stout sharpshooter Eric run but the Blue Devils held the lead Hostetter, holding him to nine after Thomas made a 15-foot jumper points on 4 of 12 shooting, including and Nathan Staidl hit a baseline 1 of 7 on 3-pointers. The Blue Devils shot just before the halftime buzzer. also were dealt a blow when Durand The Blue Devils shot 54.8 percent product Jerrod Buchholtz, another in the first half and outrebounded outside threat, awkwardly landed the Pointers by four. Thomas made on another player's foot and was all six of his shots and had 12 firstnoticeably limping throughout the half points. Enerson-Matthews was game. He had five points and took 4 of 9 from the floor and had 10 points and two assists. just five shots. Hurd led the Pointers with 11 first"I'm really proud of our kids," half points but picked up two fouls. Andrist said. "For 30 minutes we UW-Whitewater 86, UW-Superior looked awfully good. But in the 70: Dustin Mitchell and Mike WIAC, you can't play for 30 minutes and expect to get a win. We just Bendall each scored 21 points to couldn't stop the bleeding. We were lead the top-seeded Warhawks into leaking oil." the championship game. UW-Stevens Point started its Mitchell added 11 rebounds and run with about 121/2 minutes to play Dupree Fletcher scored 16 points. but things really started getting Jake Smith had 21 points to pace away from the Blue Devils near the Yellowjackets, who entered the 10-minute mark. A basket by the WIAC tournament as the sixth Thomas gave UW-Stout a 57-54 lead, seed. UW-STEVENS POINT 87, UW-STOUT 72 UW-Stout — FGM-FGA FTM-FTA TP: Eric Hostetter

Blugolds/Bingea has Devils/Hirssig caps career-high 20 in defeat career with 32 points from Page 1D Kelsey Hendrickson scored 20 of her game-high 30 points in the first half. "I thought that (Hendrickson) came through for them," UW-Eau Claire coach Tonja Englund said. "She willed them, absolutely. Great player. We just didn't match up well with her." The Blugolds Englund (10-17) put themselves in position to pull another upset. They had a one-point lead with 2 minutes, Lindner 35 seconds remaining before the Warhawks went on a 9-3 run to end it. It didn't help that the Blugolds lost two of their primary ball-handlers. Point guard Laura Olson and senior Jodi Lindner fouled out with almost 5 minutes to play, and the Blugolds had just one upperclassman on the floor with the game hanging in the balance. "When we have our personnel intact, we can play with anybody," Englund said. "But our depth has been an issue. And that's where we have to get better during the offseason." After upsetting UW-La Crosse in the first round Tuesday night, the Blugolds played one of their finer games of the season Thursday. They shot 55 percent from the floor. They outrebounded the


UW-Eau Claire — FGM-FGA FTM-FTA TP: Laura Olson 1-3 2-2 5, Jodi Lindner 1-2 3-4 5, Sarah Bingea 8-13 3-3 20, Hannah Mesick 5-9 5-8 15, Ellen Plendl 3-6 7-10 13, Pippa Mansdorf 1-1 0-0 2, Jess Freagon 0-0 0-0 0, Tessa Feyereisen 0-1 0-0 0, Callie Halama 3-5 2-3 8. Totals: 22 22-30 68. UW-Whitewater — Kelsey Hendrickson 9-16 8-9 30, Nicole Bundy 2-12 2-2 7, Heidi Sonntag 3-8 0-0 7, Chantel Burg 1-12 3-4 5, Cortney Kumerow 2-4 4-6 8, Sarah Moran 4-8 5-6 14, Megan Theune 0-0 0-0 0, Jamie Swanson 0-1 0-0 -, Steff Glynn 0-1 0-0 0, Melissa Olsen 1-1 0-0 2, Kelly Beese 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22 22-27 73. Half: UW-Eau Claire 38-37. 3-point goals: UW-Eau Claire 2 (Olson, Bingea), UW-Whitewater 7 (Hendrickson 4, Bundy, Sonntag, Moran). Rebounds: UW-Eau Claire 42 (Mesick 10), UW-Whitewater 24 (Burg 5). Assists: UW-Eau Claire 13 (Bingea 3, Mesick 3), UW-Whitewater 9 (Hendrickson 3). Total fouls: UW-Eau Claire 23, UW-Whitewater 22. Fouled out: Olson (EC), Lindner (EC). Records: UW-Eau Claire 10-17; UW-Whitewater 20-6.

Warhawks 42-24. Freshman Sarah Bingea scored a career-best 20 points. Mesick and sophomore Ellen Plendl combined for 28 points and 18 rebounds on the inside. But the Warhawks made the most important plays. "I don't think we have a lot to hang our heads about," Mesick said. "We improved a lot, and now we just have to carry it over into the offseason." Although the Blugolds finished with a losing record for the first time since 1986-'87, they will return many of their key parts from a team that showed flashes of great potential. Mesick will be one of the conference's best returning players. Olson will be under less pressure after her first season running the point. Bingea was one of the league's most effective freshmen. And Plendl will continue to change games with her 6-foot-5 frame. "I think there is a great core here, and that's what's exciting," Englund said. "I just would have liked to see them get even further so they could get some more experience."

from Page 1D For good measure, she made two free throws with 32.5 second left after picking off a UW-Stout pass. "It was our time to go," Flease said. "We knew that we could do it. We had confidence in ourselves. We got the job done." The Pointers advanced to play in their third straight WIAC championship game at UWWhitewater on Saturday. UW-Stout, playing in a tournament semifinal for the ninth straight season, ended with a 16-11 record. Flease was 11 of 14 from the floor. She also had four steals and five rebounds. "She's a really solid player," UW-Stout coach Mark Thomas said. "She's so active all the time. That was a huge turning point in the game." The loss ended the brilliant career of UW-Stout senior Julia Hirssig, who will leave as the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,718 points. Hirssig, who was recently named the academic player of the year by ESPN The Magazine, had 32 points and 14 rebounds. Ten of those were on the offensive glass. "She's the best player in this league by far," Thomas said. "She's just a fabulous player and has such a will. She played 38 minutes and was pushed and shoved but she just kept playing and making plays. "I couldn't be more proud of her. Those are some awfully big shoes to fill down the road." Hirssig was a focal point


Julia Hirssig 12-19 8-14 32; Kimmy Keehr 0-1 2-2 2; Kayla Crowley 1-3 0-0 3; Cody VanDenHeuvel 0-1 0-0 0; Danielle DeWitt 3-11 0-0 8; Kayla Windt 2-5 4-5 9; Tricia VanVreede 1-2 1-1 3; Kim Stokke 5-11 2-2 12; Megan Maslowski 2-8 0-0 5. Totals: 26-61 17-24 74. UW-Stevens Point — Cassie Bandow 3-10 4-4 11; Andrea Flease 11-14 4-4 28; Josi Schultz 5-8 4-4 14; Ashley Windt 1-4 0-0 2; Liz Althoff 2-2 1-1 5; Britta Petersen 4-12 2-5 10; Christin Coles 1-2 0-0 3; Brooke Allen 0-2 0-0 0; Ashley Averkamp 2-5 5-8 9. Totals: 29-59 20-26 82. Halftime: UW-Stout 37, UW-Stevens Point 34. 3-point goals: UW-Stout 5-20 (Keehr 0-1, Crowley 1-3, VanDenHeuvel 0-1, DeWitt 2-7, Windt 1-3, Maslowski 1-5), UW-Stevens Point 4-10 (Bandow 1-2, Flease 2-3, Windt 0-2, Coles 1-2, Allen 0-1). Rebounds: UW-Stout 37 (Hirssig 14), UW-Stevens Point 33 (Petersen 10). Assists: UW-Stout 12 (Stokke 5), UW-Stevens Point 15 (Bandow 4). Total fouls: UW-Stout 19, UWStevens Point 21. Fouled out: Schultz (SP), Averkamp (SP). Records: UWStout 16-11; UW-Stevens Point 20-6.

from the get-go for the Pointers, who constantly had one player behind and in front of her and help always nearby. When she got the ball, the entire team would collapse. "Every time she got the ball, we were in there," Flease said. "She's a great player. We can't stop her with one person. We had to have more than one down there. They can kick it out and shoot the 3. Our main game plan was to make them beat us from the 3, and we accomplished that." Fellow senior Kim Stokke added 12 points but had just two in the second half. DeWitt, another senior, had eight points and knocked down a couple of 3s, but the outside shots weren't falling for the Blue Devils, who were just 25 percent (5 of 20) on 3-pointers. "We had some good looks," Thomas said. "They rattled around the basket and just came out." Also playing their final games for UW-Stout were seniors Megan Maslowski and Stacy Bush.