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Crandon hopes the use of wood ashes will help clear fields more quicklySubmitted: 04/18/2018

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CRANDON - Northwoods sports teams hope the latest snowstorm will be the last one from the winter that won't seem to end.

Until all that snow melts, some schools are taking proactive measures to find games for their athletes.

"We're over a month into the season and we still haven't had a practice outside," said Crandon Activities Director Josh Jaeger.

Like most schools, Crandon's sports practices have been confined to hallways and gyms, while games have been cancelled or postponed.


"Getting an opportunity to actually tell them game situation stuff, and tell them, and help them through it and coach them through it, I'm looking forward to that," said Crandon Softball Coach Shannon Howerton.

Next Tuesday the Cardinals baseball and softball teams will get that chance when they travel to the Wisconsin Dells to play Rhinelander, Crivitz and Peshtigo on the turf at the Woodside Sports Complex.

"I'm not excited for the travel, I can say that, but being able to finally go and play other teams is going to be amazing," said Crandon senior Alexis Quade.

Crandon is one of several Northwoods schools to travel for games.

While skipping a full day of school is not ideal, school administrators know students have missed less time than originally planned.

"It's like a trade-off. We've missed about six or eight games already, so they would've missed six or eight class times potentially, so it's one whole day for the four or five afternoons that they previously didn't miss," said Jaeger.

In an attempt to miss fewer games in the future, the Cardinals are taking a unique approach to clearing their fields.

"We decided to do it to our baseball field last week, and it worked really well," said Jaeger. "We had it to dirt and then Mother Nature provided us with another blessing of snow."

Crandon's teams spent Wednesday afternoon spreading wood ashes, donated by Nicolet Hardwood in Laona, across the snow-covered baseball and softball fields.

Potassium salts in the ashes help melt the snow, while also attracting the sun with the dark color.

"It works really well, because I do it in my yard and the grass will turn green much faster than it normally does," said Jaeger.

Now the Cardinals hope it will work just as well on their fields, so they can start playing games a little closer to home.

Story By: Mark Spillane

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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MINOCQUA - At this point in the season, the Lakeland Union track team is happy to drive more than 10 hours, if that means they can run outside.

"I feel we are ready, although we've kind of had a disadvantage having to run inside. But we've had an advantage running through the harsher weather," said Lakeland sophomore, Aubrey Anderson.

The team is about seven weeks into the season and still has not been able to run on an outdoor track. But that will change this weekend as seven of the distance runners will compete in the Kansas Relays at the University of Kansas.

"It's not just a high school meet, it's a college meet that they've invited high school athletes to," said head coach Kevin FitzPatrick.

Those seven were chosen because they were all state qualifiers last year. This will be Anderson's first time making the trip.

"I'm looking forward to running against hard competition and outside, for sure on an outdoor track," said Anderson.

The harder competition is mainly why the team likes to go. But top runner Kav FitzPatrick he has his eye on one specific event.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to steeplechase there," said Kav FitzPatrick.

The steeple chase is not a WIAA event, which makes that opportunity few and far between. But in true Kav FitzPatrick fashion, that's not the only event he wants to do well in. He'll also run the 800.

"I'm in the fast section so hopefully getting out there and running a fast time," said FitzPatrick.

The Great Northern Conference meet is only a month away. Being able to compete outside, no matter where, is a big advantage.

"We're using this as a jumping off point for the outdoor season and then hopefully to get them on the podium at the state track meet this June," said Kevin FitzPatrick.

Most of those seven runners chose to make the trip, even though it meant missing prom this weekend.

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RHINELANDER - The added snow the Northwoods got on Sunday means baseball, softball, girls soccer, outdoor track won't happen any time soon, unfortunately.

Over at Pioneer Park where Rhinelander softball plays, the parks department has tried to do all they can by plowing the snow off the field, but they can't do much more.

"We've just done it once this year, but we may have to skim the top layer. The grass is soft now because it has thawed a little bit, so we have to be really careful about the outfield," said Rhinelander Parks Director Jeremy Biolo.

So the grass is a factor at Pioneer Park. Over at Hodag Park where the baseball team plays, they have a whole other obstacle.

"Baseball wanted to get on down at Hodag Park also and because of the irrigation systems, we can't afford to blow off those diamonds. There's too much money invested in those sprinkler heads," said Biolo.

Biolo added that with this new snowfall, he'll probably talk to Rhinelander Athletic Director Brian Paulson about once a week. They'll try and figure out a way to get the teams outside as soon as possible.

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RHINELANDER - The snow keeps canceling all the outdoor sports like baseball and softball.

But at the YMCA of the Northwoods in Rhinelander, kids are sticking to the indoor sports.

This spring, they have youth volleyball on Saturday's.

The program is for third through sixth graders.

And kids like 7-year-old Abigail Nelson are building on the confidence side of the game.

"It just feels good when you get it up and over. And then when you hit it and it gets up and then the other team on the other side can get it, it makes you feel good because you can actually score a point," said Nelson.

One of the instructors, Matt Steingrabber has talked with the Rhinelander high school coaches.

They said to start teaching an overhand serve at that young age to get them ready for the middle and high school levels.

"Even though a lot of them aren't strong enough to get it over consistently, we move them up forward, we purchased some lighter, bigger volleyballs that are great with kids this age to teach them those skills," said Steingraber.

If your child is interested in joining the volleyball class, you can find the YMCA of the Northwoods' contact information below.


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MERCER - Training without a track and having limited space makes life tough for a track team. Those are some of the challenges that the Mercer Tigers face each year.

Overcoming them can be difficult at times. But for one family, it's just part of who they are.

Bob Schenk has coached track and field for nearly four decades.

"I can't give up, I still think I have something I can offer the kids," said Schenk.

For 39 years, Schenk has offered guidance and wisdom to hundreds of athletes.

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 REGIONAL SPORTS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Nick Foles went back-and-forth with Tom Brady and the defense came through with a turnover when they needed a stop.

The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions for the first time in franchise history thanks to a backup quarterback who had another spectacular game and a strip-sack by Brandon Graham after the defense let Brady have his way for most of Sunday night.

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MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Green Bay Packers are promoting director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst to be the team's next general manager, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The person requested anonymity because the team has made no formal announcement. Gutekunst would replace Ted Thompson, who is transitioning to a senior advisory role in the front office.

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GREEN BAY - Aaron Rodgers is done for the season.

The Green Bay Packers put their star quarterback on injured reserve Tuesday, a day after they were eliminated from playoff contention.

Rodgers missed seven games after breaking his right collarbone Oct. 15 against Minnesota. He returned on Sunday, but the Packers lost 31-24 at Carolina. Atlanta's win against Tampa Bay on Monday night ended Green Bay's eight-year run of consecutive postseason berths.

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GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers is getting ready to play against the Carolina Panthers this weekend.

Rodgers was medically cleared to return from a collarbone injury on Tuesday night.

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