Sometimes, it’s just the right move to say goodbye. Willie Mays never should have suited up for the New York Mets. Joe Namath never should have made the cross country trek to become a Los Angeles Ram (speaking of saying goodbye, I guess it’s fitting to mention football in L.A.). But, in all seriousness, goodbyes are a necessary occurrence in life. And, I bet no one could see this segue coming from a mile away, this is my chance to say goodbye in my final column as sports editor at The Badger Herald.In the spirit of avoiding to create too much of a sentimental pang in all of your hearts, I’ll sum up any of the sappy stuff quickly. It has been a good ride, from the road trips and the bright lights of Camp Randall to the late nights and the sunny afternoons at McClimon Soccer Complex. Without any doubt, it’s left a huge imprint on me — and for that I have to quickly thank the man who gave me a start and has helped me at every step along the way, my brother Joe.But, to keep the cheesiness at a minimum, here is a small sampling of some of the things I will never forget from a year covering a spectrum of Wisconsin athletics.-Covering the 2005 UW football season: Traveling to Penn State to see Beaver Stadium packed to the brim was amazing enough. Ditto for witnessing Jonathan Casillas’ punt block in the Metrodome. But being on the field when John Stocco scampered into the end zone to beat Michigan and for Barry Alvarez’s farewell address against Iowa was absolutely unreal. Just seeing a team that entered the college football season as a wildcard turn into a contender for the conference title was interesting enough … but to take in some of the greatest finishes and moments in the history of the program all in one year was even more unexpected heading into the year.-Watching Aaron Hohlbein win header after header after header … Yeah, you get the idea. Hohlbein, a junior on the UW men’s soccer team, is simply one of the premier defenders in the Big Ten, let alone the nation. Too bad you could probably count the number of students who have seen him play on a single hand. The most obvious bit of talent that makes Hohlbein so good is his ability in the air; ironically, I can probably count the number of headers I’ve seen him lose on that same hand. Nick Van Sicklen became the first UW player to earn a spot in Major League Soccer under Badger head coach Jeff Rohrman; he won’t be the last though — Hohlbein’s got all the talent and smarts to play at the next level. Maybe seeing a future pro would be a good move next fall, eh students?-Talking to Adam Burish: If there ever was such thing as a walking quote, it’s Burish. And they’re not ridiculous, Chad Johnson-esque quotes; Burish tells it like it is, and he tells it in ways that look really good in print. He might not be the most skilled player, but he’ll work hard on the ice and in the media room. And in my book, that’s a pretty solid skill to have. He’s an ideal captain for the UW hockey team and an ideal interview.-Tim Krumrie is fighting people? Last, but certainly not least, this is one of the most vivid images from the Wisconsin football team’s 2005 Pro Day. Krumrie, a former Badger defensive tackle and current Buffalo Bills defensive line coach, attended the workout day to get a good look at UW’s bumper crop of linemen, a group that of course included first round pick Erasmus James. But Krumrie got more than just a good look … he proceeded to engage in a stand-up wrestling type exercise with James and the rest of the Badger linemen — a drill that resembled some sort of bizarre mix of shoot fighting and bear combat. But here’s the best part — he did it all while rocking tight denim jeans and brown cowboy boots. Absolutely splendid; I can still remember trying to explain the occurrence to the rest of the sports staff. And if that wasn’t the perfect memory to end with, I don’t know what is. Thanks for reading.
The Wisconsin women’s tennis team went into the weekend with the chance to match, if not exceed, its 3-9 conference record from a year ago, but matches against two top-50 teams proved to be the end of that goal.Riding a five-game losing streak going into the weekend, Wisconsin (7-12, 2-9 Big Ten) fell to No. 12 Northwestern (16-6, 10-1) and No. 43 Illinois (13-9, 6-5) to finish its regular season on a 7-game skid.Sunday marked the Badgers’ regular season finale at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison where UW looked to avenge a 5-2 loss to the Illini last season. Wisconsin has not beaten Illinois since 2011.Illinois struck first, taking the doubles point in two close matches by a combined 3 games. The No. 3 doubles pairing of Becca Bailey and Sydney Rider fell 8-7. The No. 1 pairing of Lauren Chypyha and Lauren Burich followed with an 8-6 loss leaving the No. 2 doubles match unfinished as the Fighting Illini clinched the point.Illinois jumped to a 2-0 lead when Jerricka Boone beat Bailey 6-3, 6-0 in the No. 6 singles matchup.Wisconsin picked up its first point of the match when Chypyha took down Allison Falkin 6-0, 6-4 in the No. 1 singles match, bringing the Badgers within one point of the Illini. With the win, Chyphyha improves to 25-9 overall in singles matches.Illinois and Wisconsin would trade points as the Illini would take the No. 4 singles point and the Badgers would pick up the No. 2 singles point bringing the match to 3-2 mark.The No. 3 singles match proved to be the decisive one as Melissa Kopinski would take down Burich 6-3, 6-1 to give Illinois a 4-2 lead and secure the win over Wisconsin.The Illini would take the No. 4 singles point to bring the final to 5-2, handing the Badgers their seventh-straight loss.In its first match of the weekend, Wisconsin faced a No. 12 Northwestern team that it has taken only two points from in regular season matches since 2004.The Wildcats came to Madison with the No. 34, Veronica Corning, and No. 40, Belinda Niu, ranked singles players and No. 29th –ranked doubles team.Northwestern quickly took the doubles point with 8-3 and 8-2 wins in the No. 1 and No. 3 matchups respectively to take an early 1-0 lead.The Wildcats took the No. 6 singles point first as Nida Hamilton took care of Bailey 6-1, 6-2.Northwestern took the No. 4 singles point next and followed up with a win in the No. 3 matchup to clinch the victory for the away squad.In the No. 1 singles match, Wisconsin’s Chypyha put an early scare into No. 34-ranked Corning taking the first set 4-6. Corning would respond, though, taking the next two sets both by a score of 6-3.Wisconsin would fail to take a match from Northwestern, giving the Wildcats a 7-0 win over the Badgers for the second year in a row.With the regular season slate over, Wisconsin will travel to Evanston, Ill., for the Big Ten Tournament where it will take on No. 6 Minnesota. The Golden Gophers lost a three-way tiebreaker with Illinois and Indiana to take the sixth seed.In the only meeting between the two teams, Minnesota came away with a 4-3 win on its home court. The Golden Gophers come into the conference tournament on a two-game losing skid.Wisconsin will face off with Minnesota Thursday at 2 p.m. The winner will take on No. 3 seed Ohio State. The Badgers fell to the Buckeyes 6-1 in the regular season.