The Ozaukee sports scene in 2016 was one marked by success on both the team and individual level.
It also included some coming change, as the North Shore Conference that includes all four schools in the Ozuakee coverage zone will get a substantial makeover, losing both Milwaukee Lutheran and Germantown and turning into a 10-team league next school year with the addition of Slinger, Hartford, and West Bend East and West.
It's all part of the realignment process that the WIAA has created for the southeast area of Wisconsin and which was finally approved this past spring.
The change will mark a dramatic shift for the 30-year old league no longer precisely "North Shore" in bearing. Whether it will have a new name or not remains to be seen. One thing is for certain: travel times and budgets will certainly go up.
Not a lot of people are happy with this configuration, which also includes big changes to the Woodland Conference and disbands the Wisconsin Little Ten.
Other high points for the year include the following:
1. HOMESTEAD GIRLS SOCCER
Player of the match and senior Keeper Kelli Ausman stopped defending champion Oregon's fifth and final penalty kick to secure the WIAA Division 2 state title for the Highlanders, 2-1, at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee in June.
"I finished my high school career the best I could, doing the thing I love the best," she said, "and I helped my team win a state title. That's all I could ask for."
With the title, the 13-player senior group was able to put to rest a sad ending to the 2015 season and fulfill a state title goal it set moments after that the tough 2015 WIAA sectional final loss to Menomonee Falls. It marked the fourth state title for the girls soccer team.
The Highlanders (18-5-1) had to do it the hard way, defeating powerful Waukesha West, 2-1, in the semifinals before beating Oregon in the final.
The championship was marked by strong will, said veteran coach Rich Dorn.
"We endured," he said. "The girls were absolutely determined and refused to lose. With the heart they displayed, they frankly deserved this."
2. HOMESTEAD GIRLS TENNIS
Homestead No. 1 singles player Katya Mikhailenko was the only senior on the talented and unbeaten team when it entered WIAA state team tournament in October, so it was fitting that she was the one who provided the decisive victory in the Highlanders' 4-3 state championship win over Neenah.
She downed Rocket sophomore Anna Beyer, 6-2, 6-4, and then moments later she burst into tears as her happy teammates surrounded her. Homestead won its sixth state title and its first since the last of five in a row in 2012.
"It was a good cry, a happy cry," she said with a laugh the next day. "I'll remember that match forever. Every point, the crowd would roar. It was insane. It was hard to play under that pressure. I understand now why I broke down, why I couldn't get the words out at the net. I had no idea it would mean so much. The team title is so much more important than any individual title.
"To see the team line up (with their state medals), then to see the trophy, you just can't put a price on that."
3. CEDARBURG, GRAFTON GIRLS SWIMMING
Both squads enjoyed plenty of success in the WIAA state swimming and diving meets in November, combining for six state championships.
The top performer was Autumn Haebig of Grafton, who won the 500-yard freestyle with a state-record 47.79 seconds and the 100 backstroke with 54.65 seconds, another state record.
In between those two, Haebig helped the 200 freestyle relay with Mallory Fox, Olivia Konzen and Emma O'Brien place second.
Making this even more remarkable is the fact that those three events came in succession.
Fox also won a state crown, taking the 100 freestyle in 50.46 seconds.
Cedarburg's Lillie Hosack won the 200 individual medley with 1:59.47, topping the state mark set by former teammate Katie Drabot.
Skylar Fore won the 100 freestyle with 50.77 and Hosack and Fore teamed with Erika Remington, and Maya Novack to capture the 200 medley relay with 1:43.44.
Grafton took third place in the meet despite having only four girls competing, and Cedarburg came in fourth.
4. CEDARBURG, GRAFTON BOYS SWIMMING
The Black Hawks claimed a pair of state crowns and the Bulldogs one in the WIAA Division 2 meet last winter.
Sean O'Connor won the 100-yard butterfly with 50.72 seconds and swam with Bailey Bodart, Jack Senczyszyn and Adam Schacht to claim the 200 medley relay with 1:35.42.
Jared Nickodem of Cedarburg prevailed in the 200 individual medley with 1:55.25.
Grafton came in fourth in the team standings with 213 points and Cedarburg was right behind in fifth with 209 points.
5. DREW BOSLEY
The son of Homestead Hall of Famer Andy Bosley (who also coaches him), the Homestead sophomore distance ace had a series of breakthrough moments for the Highlanders this year.
In June, at the end of his freshman year, he finished a remarkable fifth in the 3,200-meters in the WIAA state track meet in La Crosse and also anchored the 4x800 relay team of Evan Routhier, Doug Kellner, and Noah Cumisford to a second place finish.
He built on that success in the fall cross country season, as he won the individual title and led the Highlanders to a repeat North Shore Conference title and then followed that up with a remarkable last mile in the WIAA state meet that earned him a second-place individual finish as the Highlanders finished a strong fifth in the team standings. In the process, he broke almost all Homestead cross country records.
Bosley finished off his fall by qualifying for the NXN Nike Cross Country Nationals where he earned a respectable 43rd.
6. USM GIRLS HOCKEY
The Wildcats, with several players from the around the North Shore, couldn't quite repeat their 2015 state title, but still had a great season as they took second in the WIAA state tournament in March.
The squad finished an excellent 23-4-2 after falling to the Hayward co-op, 4-1, in the final. The Wildcats defeated the DC Everest co-op, 4-2, in the semifinals to advance.
USM had beaten Hayward in 2015 for the state title.
7. HOMESTEAD FOOTBALL
The Highlanders followed up their 2015 WIAA state-championship with another excellent season, one they could only ask "what if?" at the very end.
They continued their domination of the North Shore Conference, which they have won or shared very year since 2001, and then made a strong run in the WIAA state playoffs. In their victory over rival Whitefish Bay, quarterback Eric Zoeller, a dynamic run/pass threat and leader of the 2015 state champs, broke his collarbone in the first half.
The Highlanders eventually had halfback Bradley Woldt taking snaps out of a Wildcat formation and he led the Highlanders down the field, where he eventually scored the game-winning touchdown. It was easily one of the most amazing victories in Homestead football history.
That Homestead would eventually lose to Monona Grove in the state semifinals took but little luster off the win.
8. SAMANTHA NICKERSON
She came up just a little short of her goal of a state girls diving title in November, but Highlanders junior Samantha Nickerson was still a major success in 2016.
She scored 473.8 points as Neenah freshman Av Osero won with a 508.65 mark. Nickerson was third in 2015.
9. PORT WASHINGTON FOOTBALL
The Pirates posted a 4-3 record in the North Shore Conference to claim their first WIAA playoff berth since 2008.
Port, which finished 5-5 overall, was paced by senior runner Matt Ruppel, who collected 1,197 yards, and senior quarterback Tanner Orten, who passed for nearly 1,000 yards.
Both operated behind senior offensive lineman Tyler Beach, who won a series of post-season awards and is headed to the University of Wisconsin next fall.
10. CEDARBURG FOOTBALL
Midway through the 2016 season, the Bulldogs' chances to extend a remarkable string of WIAA playoff appearances looked to be in jeopardy.
They lost their first three games and four of their first five, but they rallied to win three straight and finish 4-3 in the North Shore for their 20th playoff ticket in 21 seasons.
They had the misfortune of facing eventual state champion Brookfield East in their playoff opener and lost, but coach Brian Leair appreciated what they had accomplished.
"I am as proud of this team as any I have coached," Leair said.