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Four T-Birds sign National Letters of IntentSubmitted: 04/25/2018

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MINOCQUA - Few schools in the Northwoods can say they've matched Lakeland Union's athletic success in recent years.

On Wednesday four athletes that have played major roles in that success signed letters of intent to compete in college.

"It's nice to just know where I'm going," said Lakeland senior Grant Gibson.

Gibson, Jack Garcia, Kailey Godfrey, and Kav FitzPatrick officially signed letters of intent to compete in college.

Gibson owns two individual school swimming records and was a part of two relay records. He'll head to St. Norbert College where he'll be a part of the first season ever for the school's swim program.



"I get to be the start of a big program, and just try to tear up the record board, and I can break those while they're still young," said Gibson.

Fellow swimmer Jack Garcia also owns several Lakeland records, and tallied four podium finishes at state this year.

He's set to swim at UW-Milwaukee, where he'll compete against his brother Nick, who swims for UW-Green Bay.

"It's a lot of fun swimming with him [at Lakeland Union]. It will be a lot more competitive this time around," said Jack Garcia. "We'll definitely be texting each other back and forth before the meet, having a lot of fun."

The swimmers aren't the only ones moving on to the next level.

Coming off just two years of golf experience with the Lakeland boys team, Kailey Godfrey will play for the women's team at St. Cloud State University.

She says her trip to state with the T-Birds last year gave her a big advantage.

"Going to state definitely built my resume, so college coaches would look at me, and the experience of playing in those bigger tournaments will help me next year, in playing division-two golf," said Godfrey.

But Wednesday's gathering celebrated another accomplishment, as Kav FitzPatrick was recognized as a WIAA Scholar Athlete.

"After my siblings were both so close, it's another accomplishment I'm so proud of," said FitzPatrick.

FitzPatrick was chosen as one of just 16 male athletes across the state to receive the honor.

He's a multi-time state champion in cross-country and track that also excels in the classroom.

But like he often does, FitzPatrick deflected credit to his coaches, his teachers and his teammates.

"I wish it was something that I could celebrate with them as well, because they've helped me certainly on the athletic side, but [also] academically," said FitzPatrick.

FitzPatrick signed his letter of intent to run cross country and track for UW-Madison.

Story By: Mark Spillane

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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EAGLE RIVER - Gabby Herfindahl checked another item off her to-do list for the last few weeks of her senior year.

The Northland Pines senior made it official today that she will run track at St. Cloud State.

Herfindahl decided on St. Cloud State because of its campus and its coaching staff for the track team.

Last year she was selected as the runner of the year for the Great Northern Conference.

Herfindahl usually finishes up front for Northland Pines in her sprinting events. She'll plan on doing the same as a Husky next year.

"They don't have any pole vaulters right now so I'll be their first one, or only one as of right now and that's kind of cool. I have time marks I have to hit so that's a big thing I'm going to work on. But I'll definitely stick to sprinting and pole vaulting," said Herfindahl.

Herfindahl was also a great hockey player for the Eagles. She is planning on playing for the intramural team at St. Cloud State.

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RHINELANDER - Rhinelander toppled Newman Catholic on Tuesday 10-0 behind two goals each from Kenedy Van Zile, Anna Sturzl, Izzy Haverkampf and Alayna Franson.

Rhinelander baseball and softball both swept doubleheaders at the Wood Side Sports Complex in Mauston.

Rhinelander boys tennis defeated Lakeland Union 6-1.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander softball program knows how much it would benefit from a softball complex.

Last week, the Hodags moved closer to potentially getting one.

"The benefits of having two fields together [are] huge," said Rhinelander High School Softball Coach D.J. DeMeyer.

If DeMeyer gets his way, the Hodags will have two fields side-by-side.

"Both varsity and JV can practice and then we can try things and not have to go across town to get some other players to be able to work things out," said DeMeyer.

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STEVENS POINT - The indoor golf area at SentryWorld in Stevens Point is usually busy between November and March. But this year, it's been a little different.

"The month of April especially has been incredibly busy here in our indoor practice facility," said Director of Golf, Danny Rainbow.

SentryWorld doesn't just have a driving range and putting green. They also added a golf simulator about a year ago.

"It picks up my slice really well so I think it's pretty accurate actually," said golfer Ben Long. "I've got a long way to go before it actually helps my game, but any time you can get out and get some extra swings in before you hit the course, it's very helpful."

The simulator has about 20 courses to pick from. One of those picks is SentryWorld's actual course.

This year, a different group started coming in.

"We've had several area high school teams and university teams as well coming to practice on the indoor facilities," said Rainbow.

Luckily for some, it is just practice before the real deal out on the greens in a few weeks.

"Just to get out and hang out with family and friends, to spend time, whether it's indoor or outdoor, just to have that option is really nice," said Long.

SentryWorld is open to the public, there is no membership fee to use the facility.

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MINOCQUA - A group of wanna-be Brewers players sharpened their skills at a baseball camp.

Lakeland Union is doing its annual baseball camp each Sunday in the spring.

The camp today was just about hitting technique.

Some kids like 10-year-old Ethan Seeliger come to the camp every year.

"[The camp is] very good, very educational for kids. If you want to play baseball, you come here every Sunday and you learn baseball, it's really good for you," said Seeliger.

One of the things he's learning is his 'knocking knuckles'.

Lakeland junior Bryce Gilbertson is one of the high school players that helps teach the younger kids.

"It's good giving back to the community. I remember coming out and doing this when I was little and we got snowed in all the time and we'd come in and do this. It's cool being on the other side of it now," said Gilbertson.

The camp has been going on for over 10 years now. The money raised goes back to the high school baseball program.

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ROSHOLT - The warm weather and sunshine helped make it a perfect weekend for a group of lumber 'jacks' and 'jills' in Rosholt.

The UWSP Woodland Sports team, also known as lumberjacks, held the 66th annual competition with eight other teams from around the Midwest.

"It's a really good time because it's more about connecting with people than having a feud with them. So it's a lot of fun meeting new people," said freshman Brody Fischer.

One of the lumberjills says she thought you had to be a forestry major to join the team. But she was glad that wasn't the case.

"You don't have to know anything about trees. You don't have to have held an axe before and you can come and they'll coach you up. So most people here are in forestry or natural resources, but not all of us!

Some of the events this weekend were the underhand chop, the cross cut and the bolt throw.

UWSP took second last year, which is uncommon for them. But they were back to their winning ways this year and took first place.


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CRANDON - Keegan Kincaid spent his winter in an unforgettable way. He took the Crandon girls basketball team to the state tournament. But now, it's back to his main job as a professional off-road driver.

Kincaid is used to seeing the checkered flag.

"We don't often put third place [trophies] up. Not enough room in the trophy case," said Kincaid.

The driver was born and raised in Crandon and quickly became a race fan.

"I always dreamed of racing but I never imagined I'd be where I'm at today," said Kincaid.

And now he's building a new car for his seventh season as a professional driver.

Last year, he raced in a Pro-4 car in the Torc series, but this year he's going back to Pro-2 for the new Lucas-Oil Off-Road season.

"Two-wheel drive. About the same horsepower as the for-wheel drive. About 900 horsepower," said Kincaid.

That horsepower has carried him to finish line after finish line. And some of those titles have been at his home town track at the Crandon International Off-Road Raceway. 

That's where he'll start the 2018 season with the Brush Run.

"We're trying to get a head start on this truck and be ready to go so we can get some testing in so when we hit that first event so we're ready to go and race," said Kincaid.

Racing at home always makes him reflect back to his days as a fan.

"I was in those shoes at one time and sitting on the hill at Crandon and just imagine being here," said Kincaid.

And now that he's in the driver's seat and a home town favorite, he knows that support helps him as he's going 100 MPH.

"To have the majority of fans at that race on your side is really cool," said Kincaid.

The Crandon Brush Run will be the weekend of June 16-17 if you would like to see Kincaid in action.

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TOMAHAWK - Jon Long knows it's a little strange to say he has a favorite gas pump.

"A lot of times when I come to use this pump, I have to wait in line," said Long.

But when he uses pump eight at the Tomahawk BP, he knows where his money is going.

"Any time somebody uses that pump, no matter what grade, we give them two cents a gallon," said BP Manager Jim Charles.

The Tomahawk High School Booster Club gets the two cents a gallon to give back to the athletic department.

"[We got] a new wrestling mat this year. They've donated money for the shoot away that the basketball teams have wanted. They've also paid for new sweats and warm ups for the track team," said Athletic Director Ron Wilson.

The booster club has made $8,500 in a little over two years.

"You come to this pump instead of a different pump. Or this gas station instead of another one and it's a pretty minor way of making a big contribution," said Long.

Part of that big contribution goes to more than just warm ups or a wrestling mat.

"Tomahawk lost their athletic trainer for a couple years and the booster club was the first group to step up and say 'hey, this is something we need at the high school'," said Athletic Trainer Ryan Flynn.

Tomahawk High School is now able to have a full-time athletic trainer to help keep the athletes safe.

"It brings more money in for us to put back in to athletics without them having to do anything but pay their normal gas fees," said Flynn.

To the community these two cents are more than just a couple pennies.

"The Hatchet Pride pump, I think the word 'pride' says it all," said Long.

The Tomahawk BP is now a pilot gas station for other stations around the country to start a pride pump of their own.

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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.

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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.

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