Loading
Search
TOP STORY

Thunderbirds hoping to stay ahead of the packSubmitted: 03/24/2017

Play Video
MINOCQUA - Perhaps the most impressive run of high school athletic success in the Northwoods comes from Lakeland Union in Minocqua.

One look at the trophy case inside LUHS tells you everything you need to know.

Lakeland track and field wins… a lot.

"Kids come into the program knowing they can be a conference champion as a team, a conference champion as an individual. They can be a state champion. We've had five state champions in the last five years," said Lakeland Head Coach Kevin FitzPatrick.


The Thunderbirds have won seven straight Great Northern Conference spring titles in boys track and five out of six GNC crowns on the girls side.

"We do kind of have this aura about us, like, it's Lakeland, which is kind of cool, but as a coach I always need to be on game because there's always somebody gunning for us," said FitzPatrick.

Some of the Thunderbirds point to their coaches as the biggest reason for all that success.

"I think a lot of it comes back to our coaching staff, from the beginning of the season they have a plan for us, and we work to establish goals with them, and they make sure we're on a plan to reach our goals," said senior Stephanie Balas.

That aura got a boost last fall when the T-Birds won their first ever cross country state championship.

That win has raised the bar even higher for an already elevated program.

"People see the success we had in cross country, and they realize that's not impossible. We have athletes from freshmen to senior that all see that goal and know it's achievable now," said junior Kav FitzPatrick.

The team's sprinters are quick to point out that despite the success of the distance runners; they're not the only reasons for Lakeland's winning ways.

"You can't have the school being like 'oh, it's just those cross-boys, they hold the team up.' No, actually we score points for the team too," said senior Julia Malicki.

It's true that Lakeland has been a very balanced team the last few years.

After a few key sprinters graduated from last year's boys team, this year's boys sprinters will have plenty of work to do to prove themselves this spring.

"We lost two big guys, Sam Jaeger and Spencer Sutton last year, that carried a lot of points for the team as far as the sprinters go, so we need some other guys to step up," said senior Max Wohlleber.

The T-Birds' success has also produced five individual state champions in the last five seasons, including the 2015 boys 3200 meter relay.

After struggles at the state meet last year in that race, FitzPatrick is aiming for a bit of redemption.

"We want revenge this year. We were state champs two years ago, and obviously that's the ultimate goal so hopefully we make that happen," said FitzPatrick.

Kevin FitzPatrick says he's hopeful for both the boys and girls success this year.

He added that other strong GNC teams could make this one of the toughest seasons they've had yet.

Story By: Mark Spillane

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story

Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com

 LOCAL SPORTS

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - The Decker family goes hand in hand with snowmobile racing in Eagle River.

"I was around it all the time and even though it wasn't car racing, it's still the same thing," said 19-year-old Natalie Decker.

Stock car racing is what Natalie Decker is mastering now and Venturini Motorsports has noticed. The North Carolina-based company recently signed her to a three race deal.

"I was in shock. I was like 'oh my god, this is actually happening!' It didn't hit me for a while until things started rolling along," said Decker. 

The first step was making sure Decker had a sponsor. An investment company called N-29 in Madison stepped up.

"N-29 is based out of Wisconsin and I'm from Wisconsin so it's a good fit. They invest in start-up companies and I'm pretty much a start-up company," said Decker.

The three races that Decker signed on board for will start in Toledo, Ohio. Then it's on to Elko Speedway just south of Minneapolis.

"We've been with there with the super late so that's probably the track that I'll be most confident in and I'm really excited for that one," said Decker.

Then the last race will be the biggest. It will be at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.

"Pocono will definitely be the biggest race track I've ever gone on," said Decker.

The goal of Venturini Motorsports is to prep their drivers for the next level. For 19-year-old Natalie Decker, that's her goal as well.

"They've prepped a lot of drivers and put them into Kyle Bush Motorsports and then it just keeps getting bigger after that. My next step, I definitely want to be in trucks, Kyle Bush would be awesome to race for, and they're both backed by Toyota," said Decker.

No matter where this new deal takes her, Decker always wants to be a role model for younger girls.

"We got 30 races this summer with our super late program and three with Venturini and someday I hope to pave the way for other girls too," said Decker.

Decker will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to get fitted for her new gear and have a few practice rounds before her first race on May 21, 2017 in Toledo.

+ Read More

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - You can bet there were smiles all across Wisconsin when the Badgers finished their upset win over Villanova on Saturday night.

But excited Bucky fans aren't the only ones enjoying the ride to the Sweet 16.

Some Northwoods businesses are loving it too.

+ Read More

Play Video

STEVENS POINT - Sports superstitions don't always have a well-known origin. That's true of the hockey playoff beards you see every season.

"I don't really know why it's a thing," said UW-Stevens Point senior forward Kyle Sharkey.

But that hasn't stopped hockey players from rolling with it.

"Back when I was playing juniors, it was a lot longer playoff season and things got pretty hairy," said Sharkey.

The UW-Stevens Point hockey team won the Division III national title last year, and they're out to defend their title over the next few weeks.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - December 4 was a night that junior Tyler Carroll will never forget. It was the night nearly half of his body was badly burned in a bonfire accident. Most of the burns were on his legs.

"For me to barely even walk, that was really hard for me," said Carroll.

Tyler was a star football, hockey, and track athlete for Lakeland Union High School. The accident ended his hockey season.

"I got two games in, scored two goals, having fun, and then that came to a halt, which was frustrating," said Carroll.

But Tyler's favorite sport is football. He's the quarterback and running back for Lakeland Union and plans to play in college as well.

"My first question was 'Can I play football again?' because that's my main focus. And when they said that I could play again, that's what kept me going," said Carroll.

+ Read More

Play Video

MADISON - Many young hockey fans in the Northwoods grow up watching Wisconsin play each week. Rarely do those fans get to actually sit on the Badgers bench and hang out in the locker room.

But Connor Cox has a cool job that allows him to do just that.

+ Read More

Play Video

WAUSAU - Hockey in northcentral Wisconsin typically means just high school and college teams. But there could be a new North American Hockey League team moving to Wausau.

+ Read More

Play Video

MARSHFIELD HIGH SCHOOL - Stevens Point boys basketball upset No. 1 Oshkosh North 76-61.

SPASH will play Madison Memorial next Friday night at 6:35 p.m. The winner of that game will compete on Saturday for the state title at the Kohl Center in Madison.

+ Read More
+ More Local Sports



 REGIONAL SPORTS

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.

+ Read More

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.

+ Read More

MADISON - MADISON, Wis. (AP) â€" 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.

+ Read More

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.


+ Read More

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.

+ Read More

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.

+ Read More

IOWA CITY, IA - With a possible trip to the Big Ten championship game at stake, Nebraska fell flat.

+ Read More
+ More Regional Sports
Search: