Monthly Archives: August 2017

TOSA WEST’S AUSTIN ERTL IS A BIG MAN WITH BIG GOALS

TOSA WEST'S AUSTIN ERTL
IS A BIG MAN WITH BIG GOALS



Wauwatosa West's junior lineman Austin Ertl is a young man who is very confident about his ability and his goals. Not surprising since the 6-feet, 2 inch, 297 pounder is a two-time All-Conference player with all the tools.

But Trojans' coach Matt Good sees room for improvement and Ertl agrees with his assessment.

"He needs to have a nastier streak - especially on the offensive line - where he just needs to rip your heart out," Good said. "I think he has that on defense, but offensively sometimes he catches blocks instead of being the guy who finishes blocks. We'd like to get him there."

Austin smiles when asked about his offensive line play.

"Sometimes I have a tendency on offense - I'll get someone down and then I will turn around and look for the ball," he said. "So I want to work on staying on my blocks longer and look for a new guy to block instead of just turning around and watching the ball."

If Ertl improves his aggressiveness, there is no telling what kind of career he will have, considering his first two seasons at Tosa West.

He earned all-conference first-team honors on the offensive line as a freshman. Then as a sophomore last fall, he was named first-team all-conference lineman on offense AND defense.

Ertl is a versatile athlete off the football field as well.

After playing basketball since he was a youngster, he switched to wrestling this winter and excelled for the co-op Tosa team. In the spring he took part in the shot and discus and just missed qualifying for state in the former.

Austin recently recalled his first season.

"My freshman year I wasn't really accepted by all the upper classmen," he said. "But after the first game, everyone told me you're part of the team now. We know you can play.

"Making all-conference as freshman gave me more confidence than I really thought I had. I set my goals high to get a scholarship when I made all-conference my freshman year. Now knowing I made all-conference two years in a row, it showed me I can play at the next level."

Austin has two Division 1 offers already, from the University at Buffalo and South Dakota State University.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Tosa West's Austin Ertl earned all-conference honors on offense and defense as a sophomore after making it on offense as a freshman.

Austin started playing football in third grade for the Red Knights before playing for the Jr. Trojans.

"In fourth grade I played up for the fifth grade Jr. Trojans team," he said. "My dad was my coach from fourth grade all the way through eighth grade. He used to be a head coach up north in Tomah.

"My dad played in college and I always wanted to follow what he did. And that's why I always wore No. 71, because he did in college."

Austin's dad, Phil, is the current Superintendent of the Wauwatosa School District. His mom is Kirsten and his brother, Logan, is a freshman and plays football at West.

Good first remembered when he laid eyes on Austin.

"He was a fifth grader on Jr. Trojans," he said. "He was always bigger than everyone else and he would run through people. I used to hear stories about Joe Thomas (former Brookfield Central tackle and current Cleveland Browns All-Pro tackle) and there are some similarities between them as Austin has come through the program."

Good knew he would get good things from Austin right away.

"As a freshman, coming in, his work ethic was outstanding. Right away you could see he had just a little different way in the weight room, his attitude in the weight room," Good said. "The way you were able to coach him and the things you were able to do with him compared to most kids and the way you could push him.

"He was a sponge. He always wanted more. He was watching linemen videos. He was watching strength videos, tackle videos. He was like a sponge and those are the special ones. They want to learn."

He was a sponge. He always wanted more. He was watching linemen videos. He was watching strength videos, tackle videos. He was like a sponge and those are the special ones. They want to learn.”

--- Coach Matt Good

When asked about Ertl's strong points, Good had a similar answer.

"His passion to get better. He has an unbelievable work ethic that wants to be great," he said. "He wants to be great, he works so hard every day in practice. He works so hard outside of football to get better at moves. He works so hard at footwork. He does extra footwork drills. He does extra strength drills.

"If he needs to get better at something, he goes and practices it. He does those things that make him an unbelievable talent to go to."

Good then focused on Austin's talents on the gridiron.

"His agility and quickness for a big guy; he's got incredible feet," he said. "He used to be a basketball player, then recently he switched to wrestling and I think that move helped his career in terms of being a competitor, his balance, all the things that go along with those sports have aided him in the right way."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Coach Matt Wood moved Austin Ertl to center this season because his skills fit well into this offensive scheme.

Austin has moved from tackle, to guard to center to help his team according to Good, who raved about his move to center.

"That move solidified our offensive line. It made our offense go. A kid that big and that good playing there. As a tackle as a sophomore he made all-conference both ways. On defense he plays all four positions on the defensive line. We move him all over and I think he likes that. He loves football. He's a football player. He plays 100 per cent of the time from scrimmage. He doesn't come off the field unless it’s a kickoff, a kick return or a punt."

Ertl spoke about what he enjoys about playing both ways.

"My favorite thing about the offensive line is you can engage people, you can drive them backwards," he said. "You can focus on just taking your man and put him on the ground. On defense, the (awesome) feeling of when you get a tackle for loss or a sack."

Despite being one of the best - if not the best - player on the team, Austin is only a junior. While the captains are seniors, he has a role in being a team leader.

"I feel like I'm one of the top leaders on the team," he said. "I feel like everyone on the team looks up to me," he said. "At practice I break the huddle, I'm the one that gives pre-game speeches. I just feel that now I'm a junior, people are looking up to me now and I'm helping the team get better as sort of a player-coach. When my game goes up, I feel other players games go up too."

Good sees the change in Austin.

"He's more vocal in practice. He's more vocal with his teammates," he said. "Whenever you're the best player on the team you are a leader by default sometimes and that can be hard for kids. He's taken that and he's learning, He's taken that upon him. Everything that's asked of him he's where he should be."

After playing in the Woodland Conference his first two years at Tosa West, his team moves to the Greater Metro Conference, one of the area's toughest conference. Ertl is ready for that.

"Better competition and I always like better competition," he noted. "It helps our team gel better. The off-season we had this year was the best off-season we've had since I've been here. I know going into the Greater Metro Conference the competition was going to be a lot better. It's going to help me get a college scholarship by coaches looking at my tape."

Another advantage of being in the GMC is having cross-town rival, Tosa East, in the same league, instead of playing them in a non-conference game.

"It will make the game a little more meaningful to us than just being the 'Tosa East rivalry.' It will help us get in the playoffs if we beat them."

At the end of the interview, Good was asked what Austin was like away from football.

"He's top notch. You have this kid who is 6-2, 290 pounds walking the hall," he said, smiling. "He still does some sophomore things, but overall he's a great kid."


HANGING WITH AUSTIN ERTL

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Honey BBQ wings from Buffalo Wild Wings
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  County Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'When the Game Stands Tall.'  Thrillers.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Criminal Minds'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Physical Education
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Sanibel Island
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Play video games
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Wauwatosa East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Rallying from 20-0 deficit to beat Pewaukee, 27-20, his freshman year.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend a Division 1 school, play football and study Athletic Training.

















For Lancers Elianne del Campo: Good Things come in small packages

For Lancers' Elianne del Campo
Good Things Come in Small Packages




You don't want to run into Brookfield Central Elianne del Campo on the tennis court. That's because the diminutive sophomore is the total package.

del Campo was born in Madrid, Spain and grew up in Mexico before moving to Brookfield 5 years ago. Despite her 5-foot, 2 inch frame, she was a handful for her opponents her freshman year.

del Campo finished with a 25-5 record and made it to state as a special qualifier. She split two matches - beating senior Marissa Marks of Germantown (20-6), 6-2, 6-3 and losing to 10th seeded senior Catherine Lindsay (23-8) of Eau Claire Memorial, 6-1, 6-0.

Having finished second at sectional, del Campo was not aware of the special qualifying rule.

"I thought you had to win sectionals to go to state," she said. "I was bummed out. I was training all season and I didn't make state. When I realized I made special qualifier I was really surprised and excited."

Making it as a special qualifier is not a slam dunk and sometimes there are politics involved as coaches on the committee push for their own players.

"You never know about special qualifier," veteran Coach Dave Steinbach said. "Our hope was that she'll make it as the No. 2 player from our sectional but she didn't win the finals. The committee pours over the season record with a fine tooth comb. You just hope she has enough wins during the season to be a special qualifier, which she did."

del Campo enjoyed her first state experience.

"They're were so many people there," she recalled. "I didn't expect so many people there watching your game. There were so many courts. It was so professional. I was impressed. It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun. I knew a lot of coaches I had seen before and they were rooting for me. It was really nice."

Coming in as a freshman, Elianne (pronounced el-e-n) knew the Greater Metro was a tough conference.

"My teammates had said we had the toughest conference in the whole state," she recalled. "I was getting really nervous, plus I knew some of the people I was going to play against, so I was aware of it."

del Campo earned All-Conference honorable mention after finishing third in the tournament. She lost to Brookfield East's Emily Horneffer, 7-5, 6-2, and beat Sussex Hamilton's Melina Mertos, 6-0, 6-2.

"Coach says 'I'm little, but I'm mighty,' even though I'm kind of small, I really go for it all on the tennis court," Elianne said of her style.

Photo-By Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Brookfield Central's Elianne del Campo qualified for state last year as a freshman.

She started playing tennis at 5 years old as her father took her to their club in Spain.

"I've be playing ever since," she said. "I was little and playing in little tournaments all the time as well as with my parents (Alfonso, Elianne) and my tennis coach."

After moving to Mexico and then to Wisconsin, Elianne went to Brookfield Elementary and Wisconsin Hills, while playing at Elite Sports Club.

del Campo talked about her love of the game.

"When you hit a shot and it goes in, it's the most comforting feeling ever," she said. "You are moving all the time. When you are concentrating on your own and you have all the pressure in the world (on you), when you do something right, you know you did it all my yourself. It's comforting to know you are doing well."

Steinbach first saw Elianne as a 7th or 8th grader.

"I scout all of the local programs," he said. "When I see players who are talented, I ask who they are and where are going to school. I was pleased to find out who she was and where she was going."

When asked when he thought she was something special he smiled and said "When I saw her."

So did her success as a freshman surprise him?

"No, not at all," he said. "Because I knew she was good. She is very positive, has good fundamentals and she's a competitor."

del Campo talked about her strengths and what she needs to work on.

"Aggressiveness. I'm really aggressive," she said. "I'm aggressive mentally and physically.

"But I need to get more mental toughness; to not get too nervous before a match. Mental toughness is really the No. 1 thing I want to work on. Coach gives some good advice on how to work on it. With the more matches I play I would feel more confident and get less nervous along the way. It's a time thing."

Playing No. 2 singles and sometimes No. 1, despite being a freshman, didn't really put any pressure on Elianne.

"I didn't feel that much pressure," she said. "I was just going to do my best whether if I was No. 1, No. 2, No. 3. I was just going to play my best - there was no pressure."

We’ve been blessed with talented players here. When they’re exceptionally talented, they can make the top of the lineup. They have to be exceptional because our program is pretty strong.”

--- Coach Dave Steinbach

del Campo is hoping to build off such a great freshman year.

"I feel that I'm a little more confident this year," she said. "I made it last year (to state) and I'm hoping to get back this year. There's a little pressure of making it again. I feel confident knowing about I'm going to go against. Who is going to be my toughest competition. I'm going to give it my best like last year and a little bit more."

Steinbach feels del Campo should be more confident, but she still has to be careful of setting the bar too high.

Photo-By Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Brookfield Central's Elianne del Campo proves good things come in small packages.

"I would hope it would help her confidence," the veteran coach said. "Sometimes it helps their confidence and sometimes they set their goal so high they get a little tight because maybe they can't reach them. You have to make sure their goals and expectations are fairly close."

Steinbach then talked about what del Campo needs to work on and her strong points.

"I think all athletes need to work on their all-around game," he said. "She has room for improvement in every aspect. She takes the opportunity and the point if the set-up is there. She'll try to hit a shot to land the point. Instead of just waiting for the opponent to make a mistake."

Despite being only a sophomore, Elianne talked about her view on leadership.

"I really try to be a leader as much as I can," she said. "I try to help my teammates. Even though I'm not the oldest, I try to act old. Have more leadership with the team and try to help them.

"I am always there for my team. Every time they need something I always try help them find the way to be the best they can be. But everyone on the team is a leader, some more so than others. Everyone is really good with helping each other. Everyone is comfortable with each other."

Steinbach sees good things from del Campo.

"That's a good answer because we do have some strong senior leadership," he said. "She's in the wings, waiting for her turn I think. She's glad to help out whenever I have her demonstrate the skills. I give all my kids the opportunity to display their leadership.

"They choose their captains at the end of the season rather than naming a captain at the beginning of the year. This way the whole team can chip in and show their leadership skills and hopefully it helps the whole team camaraderie."

"We've had players come in and be No. 1 as a freshman. Sasha Semina was one" http://preps2pros.net/2016/10/06/sasha-semina-a-young-lady-with-many-talents/).

"It's wonderful when it happens. We've been blessed with talented players here. When they're exceptionally talented, they can make the top of the lineup. They have to be exceptional because our program is pretty strong."

And Elianne del Campo fits the bill.


HANGING WITH ELIANNE del CAMPO

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Rice & Paella
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Pop
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Age of Adeline' Scary Movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Friends'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  World History & English
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Menorca Island, off Spain
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Play Piano
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Going to WIAA State Tournament as a freshman
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:  Wants to end college, play tennis and study criminal law

















DESPITE A LATE START, CALEB’S JUST WRIGHT FOR EAST

DESPITE A LATE START, CALEB'S JUST WRIGHT FOR EAST




He swam and he wrestled growing up, but Brookfield East All-Greater Metro Conference Defensive End Caleb Wright didn't play football until his freshman year.

So what took you so long, Caleb?

"Football was something I always wanted to do," he said. "I just felt I didn't have the time for it. Swimming was a big thing for me. When I decided I wasn't going to swim anymore, that's when I decided to play football.

"All my friends were playing football. They highly encouraged me to play football because I was a bigger person. I fell in love with the sport - the physicality of it. I was able to showcase my athleticism."

Wright still was able to wrestle at East and he finished fifth in state at 220 as a junior this past season. As several football players do, he also went out for track and took second at state on the 4x2 relay team last spring.

East coach Ben Farley remembered the first time he saw Caleb play football.

"It was a summer workout as a ninth grader," he said. "He looked more like a senior in high school physically. Then I learned this was his first year of playing football. We knew we had this great body frame we could work with but he was also someone really raw."

Wright played on the freshman team and was promoted for the playoffs his first year. Then as a sophomore, he had 24 solo tackles, 39 assisted tackles for a total of 63 tackles. He also had 11 tackles for losses and 6 sacks, making a big impression.

Caleb pointed out it took an injury to make him a defensive lineman.

"Initially I was a linebacker and wide receiver," he said. "One of our defensive lineman got hurt and was out for the season so they moved me to defensive lineman and then that's when I knew I was really going to help the team out. That was more of my natural position and I just got the hang of it quick.

"I like how it's very versatile. You can be fast and strong. There's a mental side to it too where he have to be mentally tough and smart at the same time."

He helped the Spartans finish second with a 6-1 record, 10-2 overall record, losing to Homestead, 35-25, in a level 3 playoff game to close out his sophomore year.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- When talking about Brookfield East's Caleb Wright, the world athleticism always seems to come up.

"He has the frame, the height, the body," Farley said of Wright playing defense. "We ask a lot of our defensive ends and we saw potential there with Caleb. It was a natural fit for him to come along and learn the game of football and also to use his physicality at the younger levels and then progress through the ranks. We just thought it was a good fit."

Last year East finished third behind Brookfield Central and Marquette, co-GMC champs, with a 5-2 record, but the Spartans went 12-2 overall, winning their final six games.

The Spartans finished that streak by defeating Monona Grove, 42-36, to win the WIAA State Football Championship.

Caleb was first-team All-Greater Metro Conference Defensive End, getting 44 tackles and 44 assisted tackles for a total of 88 tackles. He had 9 tackles for loss, a team-leading 8 sacks and a fumble recovery.

"You look at this past spring in track. He's 235 pounds and he's winning hurdle races, he's throwing and he's in relays," Farley said. "You just know that you've got a really good athlete. I don't think there was one particular moment here or there (that we knew he how good he was), but it's how he carries himself. I was really impressed with him."

"My biggest strength is being a leader on the field," he said. "When the guys are down after something, bringing them back up. That's my biggest strength. Also to be a good role model as a football player. Use it as a tool for younger people to look up to."

He then talked about his physical strengths on the field.

"I'm a faster lineman. I use my speed to get around the edge," he said. "I have a quick reaction time to deal with lead blocks and get through."

But he knows he's not perfect.

“You meet the young man; he is humble, down to earth, a good kid, smart and extremely hard working. We knew we had the potential for something special. Caleb has done nothing but work hard these last four years.”

--- Coach Ben Farley

"I want to work on my durability," he added, "So I can go 100 percent every single play."

Farley focused on Wright's athleticism as well as his leadership skill when asked about his strong points.

"His strength, speed and quickness. You look at those athleticism traits," he said. "When we test, he will test off the charts. He's good in the 40, the bench press, squat, clean, those types of things.

Caleb and (linebacker Brad) Dati were some of the few underclassmen who served as captains last year (Farley has game captains, not season-long captains).

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Brookfield East's Caleb Wright will also take his skills to the offensive side of the ball, playing some running back this season.

"It was really fun to see him grow in his leadership role and become more vocal," Farley said. "He's always been a really good leader by example; being the first guy in line, challenging other kids. It's fun to watch and see his development in the leadership aspect."

Wright feels leadership is a very important part of his job, recalling his earlier years.

"It's extremely important. I know, because when I was a freshman I looked up to people who set good examples," he said. "So now I can be that person and people look up to me in a certain way."

Caleb talked about the type of leader he is.

"I'm a leader who likes to lead from the back and give people the right tools to lead themselves.

"When I see something that can use a little fixing technique-wise, I'm not afraid to go and tell them 'Hey, this is how the coach wants us to do it. Go with what the coach said because he's our coach."

He will also work on the mental part of the game with a player.

"If someone has an attitude situation, you do it where you're not pushing a person where it's not doing them any good," he said. "I do tell them to keep their head up. There are more plays to be made."

Caleb will probably see more time on offense this season with the loss of super back Sam Santiago-Lloyd.

"Last year I also played a little bit of fullback and now this year I will also be playing defensive end and running back. It was my first year where I really got reps at running back.

"This year I'm excited to play running back. It's a fun position. You get to run around and hit people. It's definitely kind of nerve-wracking because I'm kind of new at the position. I'm not used to changing direction and avoid people basically. I'm definitely getting the hang of it and I'm confident of myself getting the job done.

"I definitely enjoy defense more. I'm not the biggest fan of trying to run a lot, just being a bigger guy."

But Farley knows where Caleb's strength lies.

"He is someone who is extremely physical, hard worker," he said. "A very conditioned athlete. This year he will still be at defensive end, but we'll move him around in the defensive line because he is such a strong asset for us and a tough block.

"We also could be seeing him playing a little fullback. We can see him running the football, just taking advantage of his skill sets. This year from the start we're starting to develop his skills on the offensive side of the football."

Farley also talked about Caleb as a person.

"You meet the young man; he is humble, down to earth, a good kid, smart and extremely hard working," he said. "We knew we had the potential for something special. Caleb has done nothing but work hard these last four years."


HANGING WITH CALELB WRIGHT

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Meatloaf
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  'Red Hot Chili Peppers,' Alternate Rock and Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Footloose,' Action.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Walking Dead'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  History
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Up North in Wisconsin
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch movies, hang with his family
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield Central
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  His junior year overall. Winning State Division 2 Football Championship, finishing second in state on 4x2 relay and fifth in state at 220 pounds in wrestling.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Has a scholarship to play football at Northern Illinois and wants to study Criminal Justice.

















FREE-LANCE WRITING OPPORTUNITY GONE

For the first time in 15 years, I won’t be covering prep sports this season. I learned this about a one and a half months ago.

When Gannett purchased the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – thus NOW Newspapers – they turned the web sites and the Journal Sentinel sports pages into USA TODAY II. For example, their MLB page shows scores which are 2 days old because of earlier deadlines.

Then they fired some outstanding sports reporters and photographers at NOW.  At first I was told it wouldn’t affect free-lancers and about a month and a half ago I received an email that said Gannett canned the free-lance budget. They seem to think ‘No one cares about prep sports.’  They compared the website ‘clicks’ on the Packers, Brewers, Bucks and Badgers to prep sports. Now they took away TMJ Prep Editor Mark Stewarts’ prep free-lance budget.

The bottom line is just that – the bottom line. Quality is no longer the most important thing.  For example, they’re delivery service is worst than ever. I am 68 years old. I love the internet, but I still like my morning paper with my coffee. I went on vacation and when I returned my paper started up 10 days  later than it was supposed to. I couldn’t get through on the phone and I emailed a generic website (heard back a week later).  All I wanted was the paper I paid for already.

I want my paper, so every day I went to the gas station and bought one. They continue to miss me on some Saturday’s, so when I call, they deliver the Saturday paper with the Sunday paper. They seem to miss the point that I don’t want Saturday’s news on Sunday. I want credit.

When I retired June 30, 2016 I subscribed to the Waukesha Freeman, which does a good job covering prep sports, focusing on the Waukesha Schools, but also covering the other county schools.

If you’re reading this, you know I started a website called preps2pros.net and I did it for one reason – I wanted to write feature stories about some of the top prep kids and tell their stories. Last year I started on Aug. 18 – my birthday – and wrote 51 stories about athletes from Brookfield, Wauwatosa and New Berlin.  I do this because these kids keep me young and every kid I met were great people as well as good kids.

So you might not see me covering a prep game, but I will be continuing my web site and will attend games when available.

After-all I am one of those people who still enjoy prep sports.

 

LESZCZYNSKI BROTHERS LEAD BROOKFIELD CENTRAL FOOTBALL TEAM

LESZCZYNSKI BROTHERS TO LEAD LANCERS' DEFENDING CHAMPS





If you want to talk about Drew Leszczynski's outstanding sophomore season, you better chat with his big brother Nick. Drew lets his actions speak louder than words - much louder.

Last season, Drew started on the varsity at quarterback and led the Lancers to a share of the Greater Metro Conference Championship with a 6-1 mark and a 10-2 overall record - as a sophomore.

He completed 82-of-132 passes, 62.1 per cent, for 1406 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging almost 128 passing yards per game. He also ran for 539 yards in 100 carries (5.4 average), 3 touchdowns and caught 4 passes for 45 yards and a score.

That's a combined total of 1,990 yards and 19 touchdowns.

As a result he was named first-team All-Greater Metro Conference as one of 4 quarterbacks, the other 3 being seniors.

"I've been watching him play as long as I can remember," Nick said. "And I know under pressure, Drew is at his highest level - even if it might not seem like it when you're talking to him. You don't know how confident he is in his own mind. I know he will get the job done. He's been able to show his best with the best as long as I can remember."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Last year was the first time Drew and Nick Leszczynsky played on the same team together.

Nick was thrilled with playing with his brother for the first time last season.

"I think it's awesome," he said. "We played baseball or we played pick up games on the basketball court outside. We've always been competitive. That's how our relationship has grown a lot. Football, being able to play with him - this is the highest level we've ever got to play together - so it's really cool to see him do well and help our team out a lot because I know what kind of athlete he is and he's always been."

When Drew was asked what he likes best about playing quarterback, some of that confidence came through.

"I like being in control," he said quickly.

When asked what parts of being a quarterback he liked, he covered all the bases.

"I like passing. I like running too. I like both," he said. "I like football because you can really show off all your skills. You have to pass, you have to run, you have to be smart."

When asked what was it like winning the conference his first year, Drew responded.

"I didn’t know what to expect honestly," he said. "So it was awesome that we could win the conference."

We’ve always been competitive. That’s how our relationship has grown a lot. Football, being able to play with him – this is the highest level we’ve ever got to play together – so it’s really cool to see him do well and help our team out a lot because I know what kind of athlete he is and he’s always been.”

--- Nick Leszczynski on playing on the same team as younger brother Drew

Brookfield Central's head man, Jed Kennedy, who was GMC co-coach of the Year last season and Coach of the Year in 2015, watched Drew play in the Jr. Lancers program.

"I saw him as an 8th grader and he was a heck of an athlete," he said. "Looking down the road I could see he was the next guy who was going to be really, really good."

Did his play last season surprise Kennedy at all.

"He didn't surprise me," he said of Drew. "He was doing it long enough. Bottom line is this - some kids get it and some don’t. He's a kid that gets it.

"The big thing is he throws unbelievably hard. He throws a baseball 90 mph. His athleticism is great. It was hard as a sophomore, but now that he's starting to understand the reads. The sky's the limit for him."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC - Drew was named first-team All-Greater Metro Conference as a sophomore at quarterback.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC - Nick (9) is looking to earn All-Greater Metro Conferences for the third year in a row.

Big brother Nick, who also wrestles, plays baseball and Lacrosse, has been a key part of the Lancers on the other side of the ball since his sophomore year.

He will be shooting to make All-Greater Metro Conference for the third year in a row, earning honorable mention as a sophomore and first team last season. More importantly, he will be shooting to win his third straight conference championship.

"It was awesome my sophomore year, playing that first complete game was just a change of pace from what I was used to," he said. "I like being tested and being put to a challenge. Playing in the GMC there are a lot of good players, a lot of solid teams. Winning two years in a row was sweet for me."

Nick had 52 tackles, 16 solo tackles, 7 tackles for losses and an interception as a sophomore at inside linebacker. Last year he had 60 total tackles, 14 solo tackles, 9 tackles for losses, 2 fumbles recovered, 3 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions.

"When I saw him as a freshman the first time, he was a physically old school player," Kennedy said. "He would play downhill, run through the runner. He is an unbelievable clean and tackle linebacker, who is smart and gets the game."

Nick mirrors his coaches thought on his play when asked about what he likes about playing linebacker.

"You have the chance to make every single tackle," he said. "You have a chance to change the game every single play. You have a chance to lead the team. You call plays (Nick gets the defensive call from the defensive coach). You know what the cornerbacks are doing and you know what the D-linemen are doing. It puts me in a position where I can help everybody out."

So it was no surprise when he was asked about his strengths.

"Football IQ," he said. "I'm always leading, knowing what to do and where to be."

Being a senior, Kennedy talked about what kind of leader Nick is.

"He's a vocal leader, high energy, one of our captains," he said. "Guys are looking to him to lead. The past two years he has been huge; one of our best players."

Nick enjoys leadership, but he credited all the seniors with being good leaders.

"It's always something I like to do, but it's knowing when to lead and how to lead," he said. "We have a lot of leaders on the team, so I would never put myself above any of them. It has to come out in a good way when you're saying something to somebody, not putting them down, knowing what to say. "It's very important to me. I can't do my job if I can't make sure everyone is doing their job. But there is not one leader out there, there's nine of us."

Having a year under his belt and playing perhaps the key position, Drew also has picked up his role as a leader.

"It's important. Last year was the first year I really started to become a leader because I set the stuff up for the team basically," he said. "This year I help them too - even more. I think they look up to me."

Nick chipped in and talked about his younger brother's leadership skills.

"You won't see him saying things in the locker room, you won't see him saying things in the film sessions. It's basically a lot of 'in the moment' type of stuff where he knows he has to be confident for the team and help the team out. He knew when to speak as a sophomore."

So the Leszczynski boys will have one more year of playing with each other. They are both looking forward to it.

When Drew was asked what was it like lining up against his brother in practice, he laughed.

"He'll talk 'trash' to me from across the line," he said, and he didn't use the word 'trash.'

Just like a big brother would.


HANGING WITH NICK LESZCZYNSKI

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Cold Sub
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Alternative, Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Shawshank Redemption'
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Jerry Spring
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Cabo, Mexico
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Bonfire with the boys
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Winning GMC Championship two years in a row
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend college, study business and play football.

HANGING WITH DREW LESZCZYNSKI

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Wings
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Alternative, Country Music, Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Comedies, Action
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Lost
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  History
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Cabo, Mexico
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch TV
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Winning GMC as a sophomore quarterback
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend college and play football

















For Brookfield’s Mierows, It’s a Family Affair

FOR BROOKFIELD'S MIEROWS

IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR




Over the years, I have covered athletes who have sports backgrounds -- parents and kids. But Brookfield's Mierow family has something special going for them.

Jeff and Cathy Mierow met while attending the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater. All three of their children - Cara, Mike and Kate - have had successful athletic careers for the Warhawks.

But Mike, who was a catcher on the baseball team, and Kate, a current member of the gymnastics team, did something that was unique - both were members of National Championship teams.

"It's an awesome feeling," Kate said of the brother-sister accomplishment. "I absolutely loved it."

Of course, she was also excited about winning the national title as a team.

"It was the coolest feeling ever," she said. "All the practice all season; we have fun because we love it. It was really cool."

The next day she earned second-team All-American honors by tying for seventh on the uneven parallel bars at the individual finals.

"It took a lot of hard work to get there," she said. "A lot of hours of practice. To show it off on Friday and Saturday was really cool."

Mike was especially happy for his sister's success, not only winning the national team title but also making second-team All-American.

"It was definitely special, especially because of all the injuries she battled through. I was a proud brother."

Submitted Photo - University of Wisconsin - Whitewater --- Kate Mierow's Warhawk gymnastics team won National Title in March and she was second-team All-American.

Cathy, Kate's mom, was a gymnast in high school and didn't miss a high school meet.

She got Kate started in gymnastics when she was 2-3 years old. She was a member of the Salto Gymnastics Club in high school, but did diving for the swimming team at Brookfield Central and made it to state several times.

Her favorite events in gymnastics were the bars and floor, especially enjoying the latter.

"You got to pick your own music, use your favorite songs. It was your own event," Kate explained.

Kate was the WIAC balance beam champion and a national qualifier in the beam as a freshman during Mike's final year at UW-Whitewater.

Did her freshman success surprise her?

"Yes, at the beginning of season I broke one rib on the bars and missed a month and a half," she said. "I participated at conference and finished first in the balance beam."

So how much did it help her confidence going into her sophomore year?

"It boosted my confidence a lot because of the injuries," she recalled. It did help and my teammates were also supportive."

Her sophomore year she tied for 15th in the balance beam in WIAC Championships while competing in the uneven bars, her favorite event, as well. She also earned her second straight WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll recognition and Scholastic All-American recognition for the first time.

This season as a junior she earned two All-WIAC honors for her fourth place finish on uneven parallel bars (9.575) and a tie for third (9.75) for her floor exercise routine at WIAC Championships on March 17.

Then she won the floor exercise in the team portion of the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Team Championship on March 31 with a 9.7 score to contribute to the gymnastics team's first national title since 2014.

She earned second-team All-American honors by tying for seventh on the uneven parallel bars (9.575) at NGCA Individual finals the next day.

If you had a bad game, you always had a sister, who had a bad game or had a bad competition who you could talk to.”

--- Mike Mierow

Big brother Mike, who graduated in 2015, won a national baseball title in 2014.

In that championship season, Mike hit .346 with 32 RBIs and 15 SBs, as he started started 43 games behind the plate. He started a 7-0 win over Emory University in World Series final in Appleton.

Jeff said that 2014 was an amazing year, as his former Brookfield Central team won the 2014 WIAA State Championship. His father, Jeff, was an assistant coach, and it was Kate's senior year in high school.

Mike earned first-team WIAC nominations two straight years, second-team D3baseball.com All-Midwest Region in 2014 and third team All-Midwest Region in 2015.

"(2014) was an awesome as the year before we had a tough loss in 2013," Mike recalled. "We lost a ton of guys, so we needed guys stepping up and it was a cool process to go through."

Photo by David Haberkorn --- Mike Mierow's Warhawk baseball team won the National Title in 2014.

Mike said that he was a better catcher than a hitter when he came to UW-Whitewater so he was gray-shirted gray-shirted (sat out a year).

"We had 100 kids, 15 freshman, and we all worked out in the fall, winter and spring. Two guys made the team. So the rest of us all hung around and worked together. That ended up being the core group in 2014.

"My freshman year I started 75% of the games in right field, probably caught less than 5 games. My sophomore year I caught most of the games, but the team average was about .340 and I hit about .200. You have one bad game and it turns into a bad week. It turned into more of a mental game. I never struggled hitting like that in my entire life. But the team was awesome, so that made it a little bit easier."

The next year Mike changed his mental approach.

"I knew I would have games were I go 0-for-4, but I couldn't make it turn into a 1-for-16. But it's all about winning. Whether I hit .200 or .600, winning is what's important."

Both Mike, Kate and Cara had a great support group, not only among themselves, but from their parents.

"We always tried to watch each others sports," Mike said about growing up. "Believe it or not, Cara was the best baseball player in the family. She gave it up when she was 11 or 12 and started participating in dancing.

"If you had a bad game, you always had a sister, who had a bad game or had a bad competition who you could talk to."

Cara, 2 1/2 years older than Mike, 25, was a senior when Mike was a sophomore. She was a member of the Lancerettes Dance Team and is currently an assistant coach there. She was also a member of the Warhawks Dance Team and performed at halftime of the football team's 4 National Championship games.

Cara is getting married in the fall to a University of Maryland lacrosse player, who she met at Next Level, where she works part-time.

"She's only 5-foot, 2 inches, but she was doing some power lifting stuff," Mike said, the proud brother showing through.

When asked about his relationship with Kate, Mike told a story about when he was 16 years old and he was told to pick up his sister at gymnastics practice. The coach called and said she got hurt on the balance beam and he needed to take her to the hospital.

"She broke her shin bone, fractured it half way across and all the way down," Mike said. "I gained a lot of respect for her that day."

But then respect is something that is not unusual for the Mierow family.


QUESTIONS FOR KATE MIEROW

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Spaghetti
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  'Florida Georgia Line,' Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Bridesmaids,' Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Breaking Bad
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Anatomy
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Florida Keys
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Go outdoors (hiking, fishing, boating)
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  University of Wisconsin - Lacrosse
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Winning National Gymnastics Championship in March
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Earn undergrad degree (Communication Disorders. Grad degree (Speech Pathology)

QUESTIONS FOR MIKE MIEROW

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Quesadillas
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Waylon Jennings, Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Jeremiah Johnson,' Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Game of Thrones
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Real Estate Development
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Cooperstown, NY
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Bow hunt
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Winning National Baseball Championship in 2014
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Outside medical sales representative on the East Coast

















BREWERS’ STEARNS STUCK TO HIS GUNS

It was with mixed emotions I watched the trading deadline come to an end with the Milwaukee Brewers basically standing pat and not improving their sinking ship.

The addition of Anthony Swarzak and Jeremy Jeffress can’t hurt an overworked and not too talented bullpen (Jacob Barnes, Oliver Drake, Jared Hughes, Carlos Torres).  Paolo Espino and Wei-Chung Wang haven’t pitched enough to be considered yet.

That leaves you with Corey Knebel and Josh Hader as the closest to ‘sure things.’

Jimmy Nelson and two starting pitchers who don’t look like they’re old enough to shave (Zach Davies, Brent Suter) will hopefully be joined by Chase Anderson and Matt Garza off the disabled list soon. They won’t get you to the playoffs, but they will get you through the season.

Hopefully as they fall out of it, some of the minor league hurlers (Brandon Woodruff) will get an opportunity because Stearns is obviously looking to the future.

How good is the Brewers farm system? Obviously very good because many of the trades that didn’t happen were because other teams wanted their top prospects. Hopefully Stearns’ patience will pay off.

MR. NEGATIVE

I have been called negative because I have said all along that this team was not good enough to win the Central Division. Who cares if they are in first place June 1 or at the All-Star break, it’s where they’re at Oct. 1 that counts.

Sonny Gray was not going to get this team to the World Series and you have to be pretty stupid to think so. I think Stearns and his people have done a fine job since the Brewers are probably one and a half to two years ahead of schedule.

But the bottom line has more to do with the Chicago Cubs, the defending World Champions, than with the Brewers.

The Cubs weren’t playing up to their potential – they proved what they can do last year – and when they did they passed the Brewers. They simply have more talent.

But the other thing was the Cubs are playing to win the World Series – not the division – so they could afford to give up top talent and they did and got Jose Quintana and Justin Wilson, two players the Brewers probably coveted.

WHAT’S NEXT?

You can dream about catching the Cubs but that’s not going to happen. The Brewers need to worry more about St. Louis and Pittsburgh than they do the Cubs.

The Brewers need to get back to playing good baseball, finish second and win over 81 games. Now that would be a good – no make it a great – season.