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Lakeland Union, Elcho pick up wins to advance to regional finalsSubmitted: 02/25/2017

NORTHWOODS - Second seeded Lakeland Union defeated the Mosinee Indians at home to advance to a regional final in the Division Two playoffs.

Meanwhile the Elcho Hornets moved on to a Division Five regional final with a win over Gresham.

Check out the highlights and some area scores!




Story By: Mark Spillane

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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HAYWARD - The Birkebeiner unfortunately could not hold its traditional race Saturday morning. It was a tough decision, but because of the unseasonably warm temperatures, it left the race officials no choice but to cancel the event. 

"We had to cancel the event because we did not have enough snow to have a safe event," said trail manager, Chris Campbell.

That cancelation was a little bit of a letdown for first time skier Aniya Langjahr.

"I was a ski racer in college and took a break and had three kids and so this is my come back year. It was really bittersweet to have it canceled," said Langjahr.

That didn't mean the skiers disagree with the decision.

The famous Birkie course is a 50k race. It was cut down to a 5k un-timed course on Saturday.

"We skied about half the course and you have beautiful sections and there were some where we had to take our skis off and walk," said Langjahr.

The Birkie trail managers and directors made the decision less than 24 hours before the race was set to start.

"We were holding out hope for the snow storm to catch us, which it did not and the decision was made early Friday morning," said Campbell.

There were still thousands of skiers out enjoying the shorter course.

"It's great to be out here in the Birkie spirit and be skiing around with massive amounts of people, that's what it's all about," said skier Rachel Elvester.

Next year will be the 45th year and The Birkie plans on being back and better than ever.

"I do not think it will help or hurt because these people love this event and they will keep coming back," said Campbell.

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WISCONSIN - See how Northwoods wrestling is doing at the state meet.

Then check in with Medford boys basketball head coach Ryan Brown.

That's followed by Bucks and Badger hockey highlights.

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NORTHWOODS - The Medford Raiders finished the regular season 17-4 overall and 9-2 in the Great Northern Conference.

They won the first GNC title in school history and earned a two-seed in the Division Two playoff bracket.

Check out the full interview for all that and more!

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PHILLIPS - Most Wisconsinites recognize J.J. Watt for his incredible skills on the football field. But for the Phillips middle school wrestling team, they now recognize him as a giver.

"We were wrestling on a 17-year-old mat that hardened over the years and it wasn't really safe anymore," said head coach Jack Hoogland.

But thanks to Wisconsin alum, J.J. Watt and his foundation, they received a brand new wrestling mat this season.

"It's a lot more soft and it doesn't hurt as much to get taken down or thrown or anything," said 8th grade wrestler, EJ Bogdan.

The nearly $10,000 gift came as a surprise to most of the community.

"Parents and students and everybody's just kind of amazed because this isn't usually something we hear about here, of something like this foundation giving this kind of money to one of our athletic programs," said Hoogland.

The middle school students are mainly who use the new mat. That's the age group that Watt's foundation focuses on.

"High school gets a lot and middle school is left out so they cater towards middle school," said Hoogland.

Watt played at Wisconsin a little over 7 years ago now. That means most of the kids using the mat don't remember even watching him play at Camp Randall.

"Even though he's in Houston now and they don't remember when he played for the Badgers, everybody knows him because he's such a recognizable person, both for his athletic abilities and his giving back to communities," said Hoogland.

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RHINELANDER - Four Rhinelander wrestlers will represent the Northwoods down at the state meet in Madison Thursday afternoon. It is the biggest group of Rhinelander wrestlers going to state since the early 1990s.

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NORTHWOODS - Rhinelander defeated Antigo to advance in the Division Two playoffs.

Meanwhile Elcho continued it's impressive run with a win to advance in the Division Five playoffs.

Check out the highlights plus some area scores!

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EAGLE RIVER - With Northland Pines' win over Clintonville on Tuesday night, Lexi Smith's incredible high school basketball career will continue for at least one more game.

That means at least one more practice, where you can always find her moving at full speed, and pushing her teammates along the way.

"I think it's the most fun part about practice. I love playing defense against her, I love bumping up against her," said Northland Pines junior Cassie Gauthier.

Such determination has been a big part of her athletic success, but it's the huge amount of success that's truly impressive.

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 REGIONAL SPORTS

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

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THREE LAKES - Wisconsin Badger basketball fans know their team plays old-school, fundamental hoops.

It's something of a lost art, but high school coaches hope to bring it back.

So Monday former Badger basketball standout Brian Butch offered to help, teaching kids in Three Lakes the skills he focused on as a kid.

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GREEN BAY - The Packers completed their second week of organized team activities this past week.

Green Bay is using some new drills too.

That's because the wide receiving squad has a new coach.

Luke Getsy is using bricks, Nerf balls, and juggling as tools for drills.

The Packers wide receiving core struggled last year.

Randall Cobb thinks the new mentality will help.

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