A break from football: Colin Butler of the Middleton Cardinals helps defeat the Janesville Bluebirds.
By now, you may have recovered from witnessing arguably the most improbable NFC Championship victory in NFL history. But discussions of how the Green Bay Packers squandered a 16-0 halftime lead over the Seattle Seahawks and lost in overtime, 28-22, will continue long into the offseason.
If you're a Seahawks or New England Patriots fan, congratulations and good luck Feb. 1 in Super Bowl XLIX.
The rest of us have officially entered a dead period in sports -- one in which the Milwaukee Bucks are in the middle of an overly long NBA season, the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team is a lost cause (but the women are in second place!) and the UW men's and women's basketball teams are grinding out their Big Ten schedules on the way toward March Madness.
That makes now the perfect time for local sports fans to focus their energies on area high school teams that are in the midst of memorable seasons. Here are five starting points:
Middleton boys' hockey: The Cardinal skaters are 9-1 and atop the Big Eight Conference standings. Davis Bunz, Colin Butler and Wesley Rock each scored within one minute of each other against the Janesville Bluebirds last week in a convincing 5-1 win.
Mount Horeb gymnastics: The Division 2 Vikings were number one in the season's first Wisconsin High School Gymnastics Association rankings, with more points (141.75) than even the top Division 1 team. Sarah Duff leads all state gymnasts in the all-around category with 37.425 points.
DeForest girls' basketball: Senior Kayla Goth scored 25 points last Friday in a 71-26 thrashing of Sauk Prairie to become the Norskies' all-time leading scorer with 1,175 points. As of Monday, DeForest was 12-0 in the Badger North Conference.
Stoughton and Milton wrestling: Last week, Milton (ranked third among all Division 1 schools in the state by Wisconsin Wrestling Online) defeated Stoughton (ranked second) in a close Badger South Conference battle. That puts the Red Hawks in prime position to clinch their 22nd consecutive conference championship.
Madison Memorial and Monona Grove boys' swimming: Four-time Division 1 defending state champion Madison Memorial boasts more depth than ever and is leaving talented teams such as Madison West and Sun Prairie in its wake. Monona Grove, which finished third at last year's Division 2 state meet, also is deeper and stronger. Both schools have held the top ranking in their respective divisions in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association poll all season, and that's not likely to change.