MADISON, Wis. (WAOW) -- With a 66-54 victory over McDonell Central in the WIAA Division 5 state championship game, the Newman Catholic Cardinals have realized a nine-year dream.
For their seven seniors, many of them teammates since they were in third grade, and first-year head coach Jeff Waldvogel had a smile on his face recalling the moment.
"One of the reasons were here is because of the guys around me. [Conner Krach and Mason Prey] and the other five seniors on the team, they were terrific this whole season and I couldn't be more proud."
Some of those seniors were on the football field in November, winning their second 8-player championship, and now they'll have to make some more room in their trophy case.
"You know, it's a great feeling because it's a different band of brothers. Mason [Prey] and Isaac [Seidel] don't necessarily play football, so I didn't get that experience with them, and I've been playing with them since third grade. It's a different feeling, but those football ones prepared me for this moment," said Conner Krach, who was the quarterback of that football team and scored 21 points in Saturday's win.
This championship also marks the realization of a four-year buildup for the basketball program. In 2020, the Cardinals' leading scorers were Prey and Seidel as freshmen, and they won just five games all season.
In 2023, the Cardinals' top two scorers were also Prey and Seidel as seniors, and they lost only four games all season.
"One of my trainers told me after the game [Friday] that they only remember you for the next one and that hit me because if we lost [Saturday], no one would realize we made it to state. So to be in the record book, and be a D-5 state champ, it's just an incredible feeling," Prey said, who scored 18 points in their victory Saturday.
As those seniors leave the program, members of the current group say they're confident they've led by a good example to sustain success into the future.
"We think with Coach's help and our help this year, we'll be able to prepare them for future years, whether that's on the court or off the court, in life overall, we're just trying to get them better," Prey said.
This championship marks the first by a high school boys basketball program based out of the city of Wausau since 1960, when Wausau defeated Menomonie 74-65.