Menomonee Falls and Germantown had many highs in the athletic year

Jeskewitz passing also noted

Menomonee Falls' Simone Lee (14) was in attack mode all this fall in leading the Indian girls volleyball team to its first-ever state title.

Menomonee Falls' Simone Lee (14) was in attack mode all this fall in leading the Indian girls volleyball team to its first-ever state title. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Dec. 27, 2013

The highs in the Menomonee Falls/Germantown sports world this past year were Everest-like in their height and the single, crushing low was so deep that the Mariana Trench looked like a puddle in the street in comparison.

But the WIAA state team titles of both the Germantown boys basketball team in March and the Menomonee Falls girls volleyball team in November were emblematic things of programs long-known for excellence.

Both crowns were highly symbolic. The Warhawks' hoops title was a repeat crown, needed to validate the great effort of the 2012 state championship group. Behind 7-0 Gatorade State Player of the Year and Indiana recruit Luke Fischer, Germantown cruised magnificently through a challenging schedule including victories over state Division 4 champion Dominican, state finalist Wisconsin Lutheran and state qualifier East Troy.

There were only two single-digit margins of victory all season and only one one-possession final (a Fischer hoop at the buzzer beat Brookfield Central in December 2012). The state tournament was a coronation of sorts with easy romps over Oshkosh North and Mukwonago.

The Warhawks are carrying that success over into the new season, having set a new state boys all-time win streak record. They carried a 10-0 record into press time, as their streak reached 66 games.

Who will stop these Warhawks? No one really knows.

Weight of expectations

As for the Falls volleyball team, the expectations were even greater. All this new century, this program was known for its great teams that always seemed to fall into the category of "always a bridesmaid never a bride" status. Further, Falls hadn't won a state team title in any sport since 1982

But that ended this year, as behind the singular talent of outside hitter Simone Lee, the veteran Indians lifted their game to new heights. They were ranked first in state D1 polls almost all season and roared through the WIAA series rarely challenged. They cruised to a 9-1 set record in three state tournament matches including a three-set sweep of longtime state rival Westosha Central in the final.

Coach J.C. Bruns hugged the title trophy like one his children during the awards ceremonies in Green Bay afterward and he was still doing it when the state championship banner was unveiled at the school in a December basketball game.

Lee finished her storybook career as the Gatorade State Player of the Year, an All-American, a national champion Penn State recruit, a US national team member and a Sports Illustrated "Faces in the Crowd" honoree.

Not bad at all.

The same goes for Falls track and basketball star Mikayla Robertson who moved from the "very good" class to that of excellent as well. She not only earned just the second WIAA individual crown in the history of the girls track program but she also broke a 26-year-old state record in the process with a leap of 40 feet 4 inches in the triple jump.

Earlier this year, Robertson earned her second NOW All-Suburban basketball team honor and is now a US Air Force Academy cadet, where she will be part of the track team. A high flier indeed.

Huge loss for community

But those lovely, hard-earned achievements were misted over by the singular loss in November. Retired Menomonee Falls football coach Jim Jeskewitz was a great public citizen, an all-around good guy and a mentor and a friend to thousands when he passed away from a swift-acting cancer in mid-November at the far too-young age of 74.

His disease became public in October when he was honored at a Falls football game where he stood up and accepted a long standing ovation from the same fans who he had entertained for more than 27 successful seasons working at Falls East and later Falls High Schools.

His final tribute was fitting of a state funeral. A wake was held at the high school with a line of people hours long, numbering in the thousands, patiently waiting to take their turn and honor this man who had so well-served his community. The 1976 Falls East state football championship banner was hung behind his casket.

He will be missed sorely by many, very many.

As his longtime friend and coaching colleague Bob Hessler said after the funeral: "It was a hard day."

But Jeskewitz, ever the advocate of the positive, would want us to accentuate the good and so we will continue.

Other items of note included the retirement of longtime Falls/Germantown gymnastics coach Tracy Howard, who was honored frequently and deservedly so this past winter for her 20-plus years of class, dignity and excellence in making the Indians a competitive force in the area.

Then there were the Germantown and Menomonee Falls girls softball teams, which both won their respective conferences (the North Shore and Greater Metro, respectively); and also qualified for the WIAA State Tournament.

Falls earned its state berth behind interim coach Nick Heiting, who filled in for the happy, maternity leave-bound Wendy Kirt and led the young Indians to a berth in the WIAA state semifinals. For his efforts, Heiting earned NOW All-Suburban Coach of the Year honors.

For Germantown, the Warhawks earned a repeat berth at state on Felicia Kons' dramatic bottom of the sixth home run while teammate and friend Amanda Witzlib pitched the shutout, in a 1-0 WIAA sectional final victory over Brookfield Central.

Also, in a breakthrough of sorts last fall, Menomonee Falls golfer Morgan Scrobel became the first girls golfer in the history of the still-young Falls program to earn first-team All-Greater Metro Conference honors as well as leading the team to a best-ever second-place league finish.

And most recently, in another breakthrough, veteran Falls girls' basketball coach and all-around good guy Craig Amundson recently won his 200th career game with a victory earned by his very young and still learning team.

It would have been the kind of group with which Jeskewitz would have loved to have worked.

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