Rhinelander softball was able to play Friday night thanks to big efforts from the grounds crewSubmitted: 04/28/2017

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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.

Story By: Katie Leszcynski

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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.


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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EAGLE RIVER - Northland Pines' Amanda Sergent will go on to play collegiate hockey this fall.

Wednesday afternoon she made the plans official by signing with UW-Superior.

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RHINELANDER - Mosinee softball battled Rhinelander and the elements on the way to another win Tuesday.

"Doesn't matter what the situation, what inning, doesn't matter. They have a confidence and a belief that they're going to be successful," said Mosinee head coach Todd Felch.

Mosinee used that belief in the Great Northern Conference victory over Rhinelander.

Every time the Hodags cut into the lead or generated baserunners, the Indians answered.

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NORTHWOODS - Rib Lake overcame an early deficit to defeat Prentice 19-14. The Bucs jumped out to an early lead, and Taylor Brayton held the Redmen down in the early innings, but eventually the Redmen broke out for their first Marawood win of the season.

Rhinelander soccer picked up another win, this time in a non-conference tilt against Wausau East. The Hodags nearly doubled the Jacks in shots, and Abby Oettinger  picked up her first shutout of the year in the 4-0 win.

Rhinelander softball pitchers Ali Schickert and Stephanie Kuester threw a combined no-hitter on Monday in a 4-0 win over Lakeland Union.

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STEVENS POINT - The warm temperatures lately means golfers are teeing off for the season. There will be a new course down in Stevens Point this summer. Stevens Point Country Club is revamping all 18 holes and is looking forward to the opportunities those changes will bring.

"This has really been an exciting time to see everything come together," said Stevens Point Country Club's JT Thompson.

Thompson has been at the fore front of constructing a brand new golf course.

"All the bunkering has been redone, and we're also expanding our driving range. We'll have new target greens. We're expanding the teeing area by 25%," said Thompson.

A chemical used by the club for weed control killed about 2,000 trees nearly three years ago. These new changes were made possible after the club received settlement money from the incident.

The $3 million renovations aren't just changing the look of the course.

"We took probably our weakest golf hole out and we've created two new holes using that corridor," said Thompson.

The Stevens Point Country Club is just one of a few major golf projects in the area.

"Oddly enough, central Wisconsin has been a little bit of a hot bed of golf course renovations and construction work over the last couple years," said THompson.

SentryWorld in Stevens Point had its revamp a few years ago. And golfers can't get enough of the new Sand Valley Resort in Nekoosa that will be complete later this year. That will bring even more golfers to the area, which in turn, will help Stevens Point Country Club.

"It's really great that there's a little golf boom here. It's bringing people in from, specifically to Stevens Point, a lot of Chicago and Milwaukee [people] that are traveling through," said Thompson.

The club hopes those members will remember the renovations for years to come.

"It's something they'll talk about 10 or 15 years from now. 'Remember back when the course opened in 2017?'" said Thompson.

The 18 hole golf course is expected to be completed in about another month. In the meantime, there are about 9-12 holes open right now.

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