Eagle River hosts another successful Vintage Snowmobiling DerbySubmitted: 01/15/2017
EAGLE RIVER - More than 700 racers entered in this year's Vintage Snowmobile Derby in Eagle River.

Just 10 got the chance to ride in the Vintage World Championship race.

One of them was Rhinelander's own Justin Ernst.

"It's taken a lot of people to get me here, and I don't know, it's kind of a surreal moment.," said Ernst.

Ernst was the only Northwoods racer in the top ten, and he said he could feel the local support throughout the weekend.

"Top for the WC, is a big deal, and for somebody local to have done it, is a big deal as well," said Ernst. "And a lot of people have come out of the woodwork to congratulate me."

Ernst only races in the vintage derby.

He says the newer sleds in the World Championship derby can be more expensive.

But his favorite part of the weekend isn't the racing. It's actually the atmosphere.

"All the guys, just look around. If anybody here has a problem, somebody is going to come help you. That's what it's all about, we're all friends here.," said Ernst.

On the track, the older sleds provide an extra challenge for racers.

Even though it's physically difficult to handle the rough track at full speed, Ernst says that's not the hardest part.

"A lot of it's mental," said Ernst. "If you're mentally scared, you're not going to go into it with the right head, if you're hesitant, you probably shouldn't be out there."

Ernst finished in second place Sunday in the Vintage World Championship race.

Friday marks day one of the World Championship Derby at the same track in Eagle River.

Story By: Mark Spillane

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ST. GERMAIN - You won't find a Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race up here in the Northwoods, but you don't really need those when you have the Arctic Warrior.

That's exactly what Little St. Germain Lake offered Saturday.

"We thought 'there aren't many obstacle courses in the winter, so let's do that'," said St. Germain Chamber Event Coordinator Judy Jurries.

The first ever Arctic Warrior hosted nearly 100 competitors for an 8K snowshoe race and an 8K obstacle course race.

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NORTHWOODS - Rhinelander defeated Merrill in boys basketball.

Northland Pines ran all over Tomahawk on the girls side while Lakeland stayed undefeated and topped Medford.

Northland Pines girls hockey also won as the Eagles defeated Waupaca 6-3.

Check out all the highlights and more on Friday Night Blitz!

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ANTIGO - One of the walls at Antigo's "Remington Pool" displays a school record board, where Colin Koss's name is shown not once, not twice, but eight times.

Colin didn't come back to Antigo's meet against Lakeland on Thursday to celebrate his records.
Instead he was there to celebrate his mom.

"I was glad I was wearing goggles, I was a little teary-eyed just because it was a special moment," said Koss.

Colin's mom Michelle was killed in a bicycle accident last March.

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LAMBEAU FIELD - The Packers franchise has thousands of dedicated fans. And when the temperatures drop, you see just how loyal they really are.

"It is actually pretty warm compared to every other game I've been to," said dedicated fan, Ashley Dean.

Fans visiting from different parts of the country got a rude awakening when they saw how cold it would be on Sunday.

"Seeing the numbers versus actually being here, no, we had no idea," said Robert Alford from Las Vegas.

Going to a game in the frozen tundra means you have to be prepared with a few layers.

"I have some under armor leggings and then some Nike cold gear running pants, and then these. And then on top, i have 4 layers underneath the coat," said Alford.

But some opt to leave those layers at home.

"You have more shirtless people for colder games, obviously," said Dean.

Regardless of your wardrobe, it was flat out cold in Green Bay for the Giants game. You have to get creative to stay comfortable.

"You have to be really loud, you have to be interacting with the crowd. You can't just sit there and be cold, you have to do things to make you warmer," said Dean.

No matter what they do to stay warm, fans still knew just how lucky they were to be at historic Lambeau Field for the playoffs.

"It's going to be indescribable; I'm completely excited for it," said Alford.

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RHINELANDER - Rhinelander boys basketball was back in action after having to take a break over the last few weeks due to the whooping cough school closure. The team hosted Medford Saturday afternoon.

The game was be a tight one and go into overtime. Medford won, 64-62.

Here's what Owen White had to say after the game on if that long break had anything to do with the loss.

"We don't want to use that as an excuse but I definitely think defensively we lost some of what we had with communication and we have to get that back. We can't really make the excuse of the break, I know it didn't help but we have to be ready to play defense better than that," said White.

The Hodags plays next Friday at Merrill at 7:15.

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RHINELANDER - More than a dozen ski teams with roughly 270 skiers are competing in the Hodag Challenge this weekend.

The Rhinelander event is hosted by the Northwoods Nordic Ski club.

On day one of the event, skiers competed by starting in 15-second intervals.

Kieran Mullen of Lakeland posted the fastest boys time of 11:35.

On the girls side, Isabel Saey of Peak Nordic had the top time of 13:19.

The teams will compete in pursuit-style races tomorrow in day two of the event.

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NORTHWOODS - Highlights in this week's edition of Friday Night Blitz:

Lakeland boys basketball hosted Mosinee.

Elcho boys and girls basketball traveled to Northland Pines for the non-conference matchup.

Tomahawk boys basketball took on Antigo.

Then check in with some area scores from across the Northwoods and Central Wisconsin.

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FLORENCE - A two hour bus ride to a game would not surprise a Northwoods student athlete.

Florence High School senior, Glenn Berry knows his team can travel up to 85 miles for a conference opponent all the way in White Lake. 

"95% of the time we have away games," said Berry.

With that long road trip, sometimes students have to leave school early to make the event. How do students deal with that missed time?

"We structure our days so there's a study hall at the end of the day and students don't miss as much instructional time," said Florence 7-12 Principal, Brandon Jerue.

Spring can be a more difficult sports season than winter.

"With track, baseball, softball, those students miss more so we try and sometimes structure our day to have those afternoon classes in the morning so they don't miss the same classes all the time," said Jerue.

Any missed classes or tests are up to the student to make up.

"I have to ask the teacher for the homework beforehand and then it's due the next day, there's no exceptions for a student athlete," said Berry.

The school doesn't see any athletes falling behind because of the missed classes.

"Generally student athletes stay on top of their responsibilities, academically and athletically," said Jerue.

The students athletes do sometimes fall behind on sleep though. Because of the long drives, Florence allows them to sleep in a little the next morning.

"Athletes have to be in by 10 o'clock no matter what, if they're to participate in practice or contest that evening," added Jerue.

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MINOCQUA - While the recent outbreak of whooping cough affected Rhinelander and Northland Pines the most, they were not the only schools to deal with the issue.

Last week Lakeland Union canceled a girls basketball tournament because one of the Thunderbirds players came down with the illness.

A few days later the school canceled a wrestling meet for precautionary reasons.

Activities director Don Scharbarth says the T-Birds seem to be in the clear, but they're being cautious just in case.

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DETROIT - Aaron Rodgers threw majority of his touchdown passes, three of his four in the second half, lifting the Green Bay Packers to an NFC North-winning 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday night.

Detroit's Matthew Stafford connected with Anquan Boldin for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left, but the Packers recovered the onside kick and Rodgers had only to kneel once to seal the victory.

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