WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Packers re-sign Quarelss
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers will keep tight end Andrew Quarless. The team announced today that it's re-signing the four-year veteran, and will get him off the free-agent market. Terms were not immediately disclosed.
Quarless became the Packers' starting tight end last October, after Jermichael Finley went down with a major neck injury. Quarless caught 32 passes for 312 yards -- and both his touchdowns were key scoring plays in the Packers' come-from-behind victories over Atlanta and Dallas last December. He was a fifth-round draft pick by Green Bay in 2010. Media reports said former University of Wisconsin' tight end Owen Daniels paid a free-agent visit to Green Bay yesterday -- and he did not agree to a contract. He was reportedly going to Washington next, after the Houston Texans cut Daniels this week to save on their salary cap.
Milwaukee Brewers' right-hander Yovani Gallardo will make his team-record fifth straight Opening Day start on March 31st at Miller Park against Atlanta. That's what manager Ron Roenicke said this afternoon. He noted that Gallardo has a winning background -- and he was only the major Opening Day candidate to come from the Brewers' farm system. Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse, whom the Brewers signed as free agents the past two seasons, were also considered for the Opening Day start. Roenicke said Lohse would start Game-Two against the Braves -- and the skipper will wait to announce the order of his other starters. Ben Sheets has started six Milwaukee openers, the most in team history -- but Sheets only started four in a row, a streak Gallardo tied a year ago.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks are both looking for a win in the worst way, as they face each other tonight in Georgia's capital city. The Bucks have dropped five straight to the Hawks, and they're just 5-25 on the road after an eleven-point loss at Minnesota on Tuesday night. The Bucks lost despite shooting 53-percent in that game. It dropped them to an NBA-worst 13-51 on the season. Milwaukee has not won back-to-back games for almost a year, but the Hawks have not been successful in that department either. Atlanta has not won two straight since February first, but the Hawks can achieve that goal tonight after a two-point victory at Utah on Monday. Atlanta had dropped six straight before that, and they have a record of 27-35. Kyle Korver had 26 points against the Jazz. Brandon Knight scored 21 for the Bucks in their loss to the Timberwolves.
If Gary Neal had an attitude problem with the Milwaukee Bucks, it must not have gotten any better since he was traded to Charlotte. Bobcats' coach Steve Clifford benched Neal during last night's 13-point win over Washington. He told reporters that he quote, "made a mistake," but he wouldn't say what it was. He said he talked about it with coach Clifford, and they'll move forward. Neal has an NBA championship ring from San Antonio, and the Bucks were hoping to use his experience when they acquired him last summer. Instead, he got mired in the Bucks' losing season. He got into a shouting match with teammate Larry Sanders after a game on January fourth, and he dropped out of the Bucks' rotation after that. After he was traded in mid-February, Neal said he couldn't figure out Milwaukee's general direction. Neal did score 19 points for Charlotte in its previous game over Denver on Monday night. He's been playing off the bench for the Bobcats.
Brandon Gries of Saint Norbert College in De Pere is the first Wisconsin player to be named to this year's NCAA Division III All-Star Game. Gries and Dan Kornbaum of Augsburg College were chosen in a fan vote on D3hoops.com. More than 27, 000 votes were cast. They'll join a total of 16 other players who will be named after this weekend's Division-Three sectional tournament games. They'll all dress for the All-Star contest to be played a week from Saturday at the site of D-Three Final Four in Salem Virginia. Gries, a senior guard, was named earlier as the Midwest Conference Player of the Year, and Saint Norbert's first three-time all-conference first-team selection. Gries averaged 16-point-three points a game, leading the Green Knights to a second-round appearance in their national tournament.
For the second year in a row, Arike Ogunbowale of Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels has been named the Gatorade girls' state high school player of the year. The junior guard led her team to a 20-4 record, while averaging 22 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and three steals per game. She leads a Divine Savior Holy Angels team that will face Brookfield Central tonight in a sectional semifinal.
The University of Wisconsin will be well-represented at the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament next weekend in Oklahoma City. Senior Jackson Hein received an at-large bid, after sitting two months of the regular season due to injuries. He still went 12-and-6 with a national ranking as high as eleventh. Wisconsin had eight automatic qualifiers based on previous performances. They are Ryan Taylor at 125 pounds, Tyler Graff at 133, Rylan Lubeck at 149, Issac Jordan at 157, Scott Leigel at 174, Timmy McCall at 197, and Connor Medbery at heavyweight. The national tournament begins a week from today, and runs through March 22nd.
UW-Oshkosh wrestler Nazar Kulchytskyy (cul-chit-skee) will go for his third national championship, when the NCAA Division III meet begins tomorrow in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He's a native of the Ukraine, where he has a brother, cousins, and uncles who have seen the recent violence there. Kulchytskyy says he tries to learn as much as possible -- but he knows the news he's getting from Russia is not always the truth. He says he keeps working harder every day both on his wrestling craft, and his efforts to become a U.S. citizen -- which he plans to complete in April. For now, Kulchytskyy hopes to dominate the 157-pound weight class at the national meet. He's the top seed in his group, and will take on Kristopher Krawchuk of Wilkes tomorrow morning. Kulchytskyy is one of 18 Wisconsin wrestlers at the Division III tournament, which runs through Saturday night. Oshkosh teammate Dan Schiferl is also competing along with six grapplers from UW-Whitewater -- Anthony Edgren, Shane Seifert, Elroy Perkins, Cedric Gibson, Matt Adcock, and Jimmy Nehls. Concordia-Mequon has three competitors -- Jake Reuteler, Marcus Lubner, and Sean Ambrocio. UW-La Crosse also has three at the nationals -- Eric Twohey, Dustin Weinmann, and Jacob Minske. Also competing are Ryan Seidler and Nathaniel Behnke of UW-Eau Claire, Cole Ferguson of UW-Platteville, and Peter Kootstra of the Milwaukee School of Engineering.
The Big Ten Conference men's basketball tournament began today in Indianapolis. Wisconsin has the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye until tomorrow's quarterfinals. The Badgers will find out this evening who their opponent will be. It'll either be No. 7 seed Minnesota, or 10th-seeded Penn State. Those teams will face each other in the third-of-four opening round contests today. Wisconsin junior guard Josh Gasser says he and his teammates will play to win the conference tournament, saying they want the ring that goes with the title. A year ago, the Badgers played three games in the conference until through Sunday's final -- and they came out flat in their first NCAA Tournament game five days later, shooting just 25-percent in an 11-point loss to Ole Miss. Badgers' guard Ben Brust said he doesn't buy the idea that the Badgers had a hangover after their conference tournament. He said his team just played poorly that day. Wisconsin is fifth in the RPI's, with a chance for a Number-or-Two NCAA seed on Selection Sunday.
Sectional play begins tonight in the Wisconsin girls' high school basketball playoffs. Sixteen schools remain alive in each of the five divisions. At least two new state champions will be crowned, after Milwaukee Riverside and Kewaunee were eliminated in last week's regionals. Three defending champs remain -- Green Bay Notre Dame in Division 2, Algoma in Division 4 and Wisconsin Rapids Assumption in D-5. All five AP No. 1 teams are still in contention -- Kimberly, Notre Dame, Neillsville, Racine Prairie, and Barneveld. Sectional finals will be played on Saturday, before the girls' state tournament opens a week from today at Green Bay's Resch Center.
UW-Stevens Point is the pre-season favorite to win the WIAC regular season baseball title. The Pointers have 23 letter-winners back from a team that made the national Division III finals a year ago. Stevens Point junior J.P. Feyereisen is back, after he was named the league's pitcher-of-the-year last season. Senior Cam Seidl also returned, after he was honored WIAC hurler in 2012. UW-Whitewater, last year's regular season champ, is picked to finish second this time around. La Crosse is projected to take third, following Oshkosh, Stout, Platteville, and Superior.
Both of Wisconsin's PGA golf regulars are competing at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor Florida. Pewaukee native Mark Wilson was at one-over-par through eight holes of his opening round this morning. Jerry Kelly of Madison was at plus-three through 11. Michael Putnam was the early mid-morning leader at three-under. On the PGA Champions' Tour, Rhinelander native Dan Forsman is part of the field for the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, California. The 54-hole tournament begins tomorrow.