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Prentice 5th grader selected to throw out first pitch at Brewers gameSubmitted: 04/29/2017
PRENTICE - Plenty of Northwoods kids go to see the Brewers play down in Milwaukee.

But not many get the chance that Prentice 5th grader Stacey Gustafson got on Saturday.

Gustafson was selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch through the Brewers DARE day program.

Prentice D.A.R.E. officer and Price County Sheriff's Deputy Laurie Zondlo has worked with the school for twenty years.

She says Stacey is the first Prentice student to ever be selected for the first pitch honor.


"Out of say 2,000 kids, Stacey got picked to throw out the first pitch Saturday. So it was pretty exciting for the Northwoods and the Prentice school district to have one of our kids get that honor," said Zondlo.

Stacey says she just wanted to make her family proud.

They were definitely just as excited as she was.

"My dad almost cried, but my step mom is just like 'cool,'" said Gustafson with a smile.

Stacey threw some practice pitches on Friday in preparation for her big moment.

She stepped a few feet in front of the mound on Saturday and fired the ball to the catcher while drawing applause from the thousands in attendance.

Story By: Mark Spillane

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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RHINELANDER - When Rhinelander's Activities Director, Brian Paulson woke up at looked out his window this morning, he knew softball and baseball games were on the line.

"This morning, everyone's talking about canceling the game, obviously with snow on the outfield. You look at the radar and it looked like at about noon, it's supposed to get about 45 degrees with some sun," said Paulson.

And that sun made a huge difference.

"The sun did just enough for us to get this game in tonight," said Paulson.

The Hodag softball team plays at Pioneer Park. Because the Park is owned by the city, it's not just up to the high school to get the fields game ready. The Parks Department helps too.

"We were able to get this field ready and that's a plus for the school district and for the parks," said Parks Director, Jeremy Biolo.

That determination by the grounds crew comes after a season full of wet, puddle-filled fields.

"Has been a little bit of a nightmare but that's our jobs and that's what we signed up for," said Paulson.

That nightmare of cancelations and re-scheduling multiple games also entails lots of phone calls and decision making by Paulson. 

"Really supportive of a call at the last minute. 'Are we going to or are we not going to get it in?' People appreciate the hard work everyone's putting in out here for the kids," said Paulson.

All the shoveling and re-chalking the field is back breaking work, but it's worth it to the crews.

"I'm just glad to be able to do it. We get these games in and keep everybody happy. Let the kids play, that's what we're here for," said Biolo.

The Parks Department will continue to check the fields throughout the weekend to make sure they're playable for the little league teams.

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ANTIGO - Mosinee and Antigo battled each other for conference supremacy last baseball season.

The Red Robins eventually pulled away to win the Great Northern Conference crown.

That trend continued as Antigo scored early and often against Mosinee on Tuesday, and never looked back on the way to an 11-6 win.

"It gives our pitcher the right state of mind, we're up and he can pitch with a lead, and I think it helps him out a lot," said Antigo senior Hunter Kirsch.

Hunter's brother, Junior AJ Kirsch, pitched three scoreless innings to start the game for the Red Robins.
Despite some control issues and a few hits later in the game, he still impressed his teammates, especially his brother.

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RHINELANDER - The football world has been rocked by recent discoveries into the lasting effects of concussions.
Rhinelander head coach, Chris Ferge is trying to prevent those injuries to his players.

"That is something that we are very sensitive towards. I would never want that on my conscience, our program, our coaches, don't want to have that either," said Ferge.

And it hits even closer to home with alumni, Mike Webster. He was diagnosed with brain injuries after his time with the Steelers.

"We're proud of him for being from Rhinelander and we do definitely have the benefit every year, "The Iron Mike" with our kids and we do talk about it," said Ferge.

The program even teaches a safer way of tackling.

"The only thing that's going to be safe for a football player is if they do not use their head during tackling."
That lesson comes from USA Football's "Heads Up" approach.

"It's to teach kids to understand they use their shoulders, they use their arms, they use their body, they do not use their heads to make a tackle," said Ferge.

But you can't always prevent concussions. The Rhinelander program has to buy new helmets every year to a make sure they're strong enough for impact.

"It's one of the biggest expenses for our football program," said Ferge.

This year they're trying to raise about $20,000 for those new helmets, according to the Hodag Gridiron Club's Go Fund Me page.

The better tackling, combined with good helmets means kids are safer.

"We just want to make sure all of our kids have great helmets and they feel confident going to play football, that they're safe," said Ferge.

If you would like to help the team raise money for the new helmets, follow the link to the Gridiron Club's Go Fund Me page below.

If you would like to register for the fundraiser, "The Iron Mike", that link is below as well.

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ARBOR VITAE - In December Lakeland Union student-athlete Tyler Carroll suffered severe burns on nearly half his body.

That was the result of a bonfire accident, and left the three-sport athlete looking at a long road to recovery.

Since then, the community has supported Carroll and his family every step of the way.

The same happened on Saturday as friends and family members gathered for a benefit.

Carroll says it's just another example of what the Lakeland community is all about.

"Our community sticks together, and we help each other. It's one of the benefits of a small town, especially this small town," said Carroll. "We come together and we help each other and it's amazing."

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MADISON - Welcome to the 2017 Badger football season. Fans were able to get their first glimpse into the new year under the lights at Camp Randall during the spring game. Head Coach Paul Chryst thought the spring season was a good one for the team.

"This team started to find itself, whether it be leadership, new roles that guys have played a lot to take on, so overall I think it was a good second phase," said Chryst.

Chris James was one of those players who started to find himself during the off-season. After having to redshirt last season because of transfer rules, the Pittsburgh transfer enjoyed his spring season. 

"I had the same approach every day, just try to get one percent better. I think I did that and I really tried to focus on the mental side of the game, rather than the physical side," said James.

Alex Hornibrook was named the starting quarterback on March 13th. The redshirt sophomore knew he'd have to step up in his new role.

"A big thing for me was just kind of applying what I was working on in the off season. Be it the offense, the reads, pocket movements, and I saw some improvements there. I felt a lot different on the field so I think it was a success for spring," said Hornibrook.

Right behind Hornibrook are Jack Coan and Kare Lyles. Coan is an early enrollee from New York who originally was going to play lacrosse in college. But now he's excited to be a Badger.

"It was definitely a good experience for me to get under the lights at Camp Randall. It was obviously amazing and I made a lot of mistakes but it's a good learning experience so I'm really happy with the outcome," said Coan.

But Hornibrook wasn't giving away any hints as to who will be his backup.

"I think they both did some good things in the spring. I think they're both competing. I couldn't tell you who was doing better but they were both improving every day," said Hornibrook.

Both Coan and Lyles got playing time Friday night. Coan made a mistake when he threw an interception during the scrimmage.

"With Jack, if you're going to throw the ball away, you have to make sure it gets all the way out of bounds. That one bothered him which means I think he's going to learn from that and so I thought both, it was really good for them," said Chryst.

Chryst was right. Coan recognized his mistake and knows there's still plenty of skills to work on.

"Everything. I think I could improve on every aspect of my game. My foot works, my reads, getting to know the play book better," said Coan.

Next up for the Badgers is a little break before summer workouts start right after Memorial Day.

The Badgers will open their season at home against Utah State on September 1st.

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RIB LAKE - People in Rib Lake would quickly tell you it's a baseball town.

The school of less than 130 students has produced back-to-back trips to state on the baseball diamond.
And the Redmen aren't ruling out the chance for three in a row.

"Rib Lake's slogan is 'we don't rebuild, we reload,'" said sophomore Zane Mencheski.

After losing six seniors off last year's state runner-up team, the Redmen are banking on that slogan to mean more than just words.

And it all starts with their coach.

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GREEN BAY - The Packers have released their 2017 preseason and the regular season schedule.

PRESEASON:

Thursday, August 10 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Saturday, August 19 @ Washington Redskins

Saturday, August 26 @ Denver Broncos

Thursday, August 31 vs. Los Angeles Rams

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 REGIONAL SPORTS

GREEN BAY - The Packers 2017 preseason opponents were announced Monday.

The Pack will face the Eagles, Redskins, Broncos, and Rams.

Green Bay will host the Eagles to start the preseason before traveling to play Washington and Denver on the road.

Then the Pack will conclude the preaseason with another home game against the Rams.

Exact dates and times will be announced in the near future.

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BUFFALO, NY - Top-seeded Villanova was bounced from the NCAA Tournament by eighth-seeded Wisconsin, which overcame foul trouble for two of its stars in the second half Saturday to upset the defending champions 65-62 in the East region.

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MADISON - MADISON, Wis. (AP) Senior guard Bronson Koenig scored 17 points in his final home game, combining with D'Mitrik Trice to give No. 22 Wisconsin's offense a second-half boost in a 66-49 victory over Minnesota on Sunday.

The Badgers (23-8, 12-6 Big Ten) secured the second seed in the conference tournament and got a sorely needed confidence boost to end the regular season after having lost five of their previous six games.

Nate Mason had 17 points for Minnesota (23-8, 11-7). The Golden Gophers had won eight straight.

Koenig hit five 3s in the second half, including baskets on three straight possessions with less than 3 minutes left. Trice had a four-point play after getting fouled on a 3-pointer with 12:24 left, before hitting a layup about 20 seconds later.

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MADISON - MADISON, Wis. (AP) " Nigel Hayes scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half, Ethan Happ had 20 points and No. 11 Wisconsin beat No. 23 Maryland 71-60 in a choppy, foul-filled game on Sunday.

The Badgers (22-5, 11-3) overcame 27 points from Terrapins guard Melo Trimble to snap a two-game losing streak and stay in a tie atop the Big Ten with Purdue.

Bronson Koenig scored all nine of his points in the second half, giving the Badgers a lift with his jump shot after the senior missed a game with a left calf injury. Wisconsin shot 51 percent in the second half.

Wisconsin pulled away slowly, turning a six-point halftime deficit into a 12-point edge with 3 minutes to go in a game that lacked flow because of frequent whistles.

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MADISON - Bryant McIntosh scored 25 points, and defensive-minded Northwestern beat No. 7 Wisconsin 66-59 on Sunday, securing an important win for the school's bid to make its first-ever NCAA Tournament.

Dererk Pardon added 11 for the Wildcats (19-6, 8-4), who confounded the Big Ten-leading Badgers by doubling dominant big man Ethan Happ.

Nigel Hayes scored nine of his 13 points in the second half for the Badgers (21-4, 10-2), who had their eight-game winning streak snapped.

The Badgers didn't let up despite falling behind by 10 with 1 minute left, closing to 60-55 with less than 15 seconds after Zak Showalter hit two foul shots.

But McIntosh followed with two free throws with 42 seconds left, and Wisconsin ran out of time.


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ATLANTA, GA - The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch and run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

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GREEN BAY - Receiver Jordy Nelson will miss the Green Bay Packers' divisional round playoff game on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys because of injured ribs.

Coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday that Nelson would not be medically cleared to take part in the team's final practice on Saturday, and that the medical staff determined that Nelson would not be ready for the game.

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