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Blaine Stephenson wins 55th World Championship Snowmobile DerbySubmitted: 01/21/2018
EAGLE RIVER - Blaine Stephenson captured the top spot at the 55th World Championship Snowmobile Derby Sunday night in Eagle River.

Tomahawk native Nick Van Strydonk was one of the favorites after winning the last two titles.

Cardell Potter led for the first part of the race before wrecking on the front stretch.

And with two laps to go, a multi-sled crash happened in turn two, which put Stephenson in first place to take the checkered flag.

Stephenson is 21 years old and from Hutchinson, Minnesota.

He wasn't able to race last year after an accident left him with skull fractures and brain damage.

"Winning Eagle River and the way that it all happened, I'm still processing it to be honest. It's been a great weekend and we can't thank those who are behind us enough," said Stephenson.

Van Strydonk came close to completing the three-peat by finishing in second place.




Story By: Katie Leszcynski

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 LOCAL SPORTS

EAGLE RIVER - If you follow Northwoods racing you probably know about Natalie Decker.

We talked with Natalie on Sunday at the track about how her racing career is going in the ARCA series.

She just tested at Daytona International Speedway last weekend.

"The first day I got home, everyone was stopping me and saying 'tell me about Daytona!' and everyone wants to know and it's really cool that everyone's interested and supporting me, I love being here," said Decker.

It was her first time driving at Daytona. It was also her first time drafting at such a big track.

"We're all going 185 mph but when you're passing someone, it's like slow motion," said Decker.

Decker will be back racing at Daytona in a few weeks as a part of her full time contract with Venturini Motor Sports.

That race will be on Saturday, February 10th and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

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Friday Night Blitz: 1/19/18Submitted: 01/19/2018

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NORTHWOODS - Rhinelander boys basketball stayed undefeated with a win over Mosinee.

The Hodags also earned a girls basketball win with a win over the Indians.

Plus Crandon girls basketball cruised to a win over Laona-Wabeno.

Finally, Merrill girls basketball plays well in a loss to Wisconsin Valley lead D.C. Everest.

Check out those highlights and more!

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NORTHWOODS - Check out the girls basketball highlights from around the Northwoods.

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CRANDON - Senior Max Palmer plays on the Crandon boys basketball team. 

But just a few years ago, he was playing on the Mongolian National Team. 

When he moved to the United States, he had to learn English and a new way of life, but he always had basketball. 

Palmer lived in the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar which has over a million people. So to move to Crandon Wisconsin which has less than 2,000 people, was a bit of an adjustment.

"I like it, it's quiet, not many people here," said Palmer.

It's taken Palmer some time to learn the English language, but he's got the basics down for now.

"I love basketball," said Palmer.

Basketball is why he moved to the United States in 2015. 

"People just thought he was here to visit, but then he started coming to school and we got to know him," said teammate Blake Weber.

Palmer lived with his aunt briefly in Cleveland, Chicago and Washington D.C. But then they decided to move to Crandon.

"It's pretty good basketball. My teammates, like Blake Weber, he's really good," said Palmer.

And Blake think's Max is pretty good, too.

"Coming from the Mongolian National Team, to me it means he's really good but then he comes here and shows us how good he is and it makes me work harder," said Weber.

They're all working a little harder this year and it's paying off. That's helped Max come up with a good goal for his senior year.

"This is my last year and I really want to be conference champs this year," said Palmer.

His goal is on the right track so far. Crandon is on top of the Northern Lakes Conference with a few weeks left to go in the season.

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LAKELAND - Lakeland swimming picked up where it left off last season. The T-Birds are undefeated in the Great Northern Conference. Just last week they broke not one, but two school records including the 200 free relay.

"We've been trying to break that one for years. I think it's been about five years we've had a relay team say we're taking that record down finally. And to have that mid-season is just amazing," said senior Grant Gibson.

That 200 free record stood since 1997. Senior Jack Garcia says the recent success has given his squad a confidence boost.

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RHINELANDER - If you follow Northwoods basketball, you know the name. Rhinelander senior Owen White has accomplished a lot in his high school career, but he recently added another achievement to the list.

"It's my first 1,000 point scorer so it was kind of unique so for him to be able to do that on our home floor, I think made it extra special," said Rhinelander Head Coach Derek Lemmens.

White crossed the milestone on January 5 with 22 points against Tomahawk. He says he was happy, proud and relieved.

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EAGLE RIVER - Competitors traveled from all around the world for the vintage snowmobile world championships this weekend. When the final race ended in Eagle River, the champion was just a short drive from home. Rhinelander native, Justin Ernst, crossed the line in first place to capture the championship. After the race, Ernst tried to describe his excitement.

"This is the biggest deal in vintage, this is the biggest race, the biggest prize, there's 49 entries and I got the top spot. How can you replace that? It's so awesome," said Ernst.

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NORTHWOODS - Check out the highlights from both the boys and girls Northland Pines hockey games on Saturday!

And see local scores from around the area.

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Friday Night Blitz: 1/12/18Submitted: 01/12/2018

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NORTHWOODS - Rhinelander tops Antigo in a fast-paced GNC boys basketball game.
The Hodags also took the win on the girls side.
Crandon claims the top spot in the NLC with a win over Phelps.
Plus Lakeland cruises past Mosinee in a girls basketball game.
And Phillips boys basketball downs Abbotsford to take a two game lead in the Marawood North.

Check out those highlights plus all the scores from around the area.

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EAGLE RIVER - Austin Ramesh came back to Eagle River this week to get in a few more workouts before heading to southern California for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

He knows fullbacks don't often get invited. But he plans on making as big of an impact as possible, before the draft.

"First or second grade, you say what you want to do in your life and that's what I said. A lot of people say you can't do it or they say to set a realistic goal and for me, it was," said Ramesh.

That goal lead him to a standout career at Northland Pines, then a jump to Madison to play for the Badgers.

"My best memory was the first time I ran out of the tunnel with my family, that was a pretty emotional game," said Ramesh.

Ramesh started four years for Wisconsin while the Badger won four bowl games, including beating Miami a few weeks ago. But he doesn't want his career to end here.

"I decided right now with my life that I want to try and play in the NFL," said Ramesh.

Getting there could be boosted thanks to an invitation to the collegiate bowl later this month.

"Hopefully they'll use a fullback, if not, I'll try and get on the field maybe as a halfback, a tight end, or something, play a lot of special teams, just try and stand out in practice and in the game," said Ramesh.

Ramesh says it was always his dream to play at Wisconsin. But he has one more dream he wants to check off his list - playing in Green Bay.

Reaching that destination will take even more drive, something a man who spent years running over tacklers has plenty more to spare.

"That would be a dream come true, obviously. I've been watching the Packers my whole life, just like Wisconsin," said Ramesh.

Two things that Austin added was that he feels the best he's ever felt physically right now. And he loves coming home to Land O' Lakes to see everyone.

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is Saturday, January 20th at 3:00 P.M. and will be on Fox Sports 1. 

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