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

Play Video
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

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

Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

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.

+ Read More

Play Video

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.

+ Read More

Play Video

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.

+ Read More

Play Video

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.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - More than 200,000 female high school students participate in cross country across the United States. Less than three-percent of those athletes go on to compete at a Division I level.

"It's been a dream of mine ever since 6th grade when I started cross country," said Rhinelander senior Alayna Franson.

Now, that dream is reality, as Franson will head to UW-Milwaukee to continue her impressive cross country career.

Different schools wanted her, [saying] 'hey we'd love to have Alayna come run [for us]' and some coaches were just relentless after her," said Rhinelander Cross Country Head Coach MJ Laggis.

+ Read More
Rhinelander golf gets creativeSubmitted: 04/11/2018

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Golfers typically want to stay away from the water.

"That's a sign you're not doing very well, you don't want to hit the water," said Rhinelander senior, Jacob Mahner.

But this week, the Rhinelander golf team embraced the pool.

"It's a good time. It's different, I don't think any other golf team does it because it's just our thing I guess," said Mahner.

At this point in the season, they team has only been able to do weight training and go over some rules.

"This is definitely the worst year that I've seen. For the amount of snow we've gotten and they're predicting more this weekend so that does not look positive," said head coach Adam Schmidt.

Schmidt has been with the Hodags for five years. This isn't the first time he's had the team chipping into the pool.

"You always want to pick a spot with whatever you're hitting. Whether it's a driver or a chip shot or a putt, you always want to pick a spot," said Schmidt.

Those spots were a canoe or a circular pool noodle. Even with the unique atmosphere, the golfers saw the benefits.

"It definitely helps with our short game, which is a really important aspect of golf," said Rhinelander sophomore Devon Gaber.

Whether they were hitting their putts or hitting their dives, at least they were hitting something. Because right now, the Northwood Golf Course is still a cross country ski course.

The Hodags had a meet scheduled for Thursday, but it was canceled. They'll try again next Tuesday at Marshfield, once again depending on the snow. 

+ Read More

Play Video

THREE LAKES - Most Northwoods teams would love to have just one all-state player in any given sport. Three Lakes softball boasts not one, but two of them.

"We've built our strength through the middle of the field," said Head Coach Tony Lorbetske.

That means an All-State pitcher in Anna Lorbetske, All-State shortstop Macy Sowinski and All-Conference catcher Karlie Volk.

"They're kids that I've been working with since they were youth [players.] The whole group has stayed together," said Tony Lorbetske.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander girls soccer team knows defending a championship can be difficult.

"Being defending conference champions, we have a target on our back," said Head Coach Dan Millot.

That target has been there since 2012, when the Hodags won their first of six titles in a row.

But so far this year, like many teams across the Northwoods, Rhinelander is battling the weather instead of opponents.

"Being in a parking lot, there's a lot of things you can't do properly with soccer," said Millot. "You're definitely not sliding on the ground and have to be careful with your coordination."

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Track and field offers athletes the chance to showcase their abilities in so many different ways. But when people think of the sport, they often think of the 100-meter dash.

For Northland Pines sprinter Gabby Herfindahl, a chance at breaking the conference 100-meter record could be within reach.

"I'm really hard on myself so being number one is my main priority," said Herfindahl.

That mindset has helped Herfindahl win a lot of races and set a lot of records.

"She's been scoring so many points and doing so well. She's a senior but she was doing the same thing as a freshman," said Northland Pines Assistant Coach Josh Fuller.

+ Read More

Play Video

PRENTICE - Getting together for a high school reunion happens every so often... But the Prentice and Phillips basketball programs now do it every year.

Saturday was the third annual Northwoods Alumni Roundball Classic basketball tournament at Prentice High School.

There were eight teams which is the most there's been so far.

The players enjoy seeing each other and keeping the rivalries alive even after graduation.

"The comradery of it all, seeing everybody from different schools, people I haven't seen in awhile and catching up and playing a little basketball, that never hurts either," said Nate Erickson, a 2012 Prentice graduate.

It's not just about the players though.

Erickson's mom is one of the fans that really enjoys the event.

"This is my absolute favorite weekend of the year. I love to watch my boys play together on the same team. And all of our years of basketball, we watched all of these boys play and it's just fabulous to watch them play together," said Kaye Erickson.

All of the money raised goes back to the Phillips and Prentice basketball programs.

+ Read More
+ More Local Sports

WJFW Sports Webpoll