Hodag trap shooters continue to enjoy a successful first year for the programSubmitted: 05/21/2017

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RHINELANDER - The thought of spring sports at Rhinelander high school usually brings to mind baseball, soccer, or maybe tennis. All those teams know what it takes to be successful. But there's been a new �" and loud�" team around the school this year. For the first time in three decades, the Hodags have a trap team.

"I've heard talk about it, but I didn't know if it was going to be 100% sure. When I heard this happened, I was amazed and super happy," said junior Tyler Olson.

Coaches knew there would be some interest in the team when they first met in March, but expectations turned out to be a bit low.

"Actually, when I started this, I was thinking if we got 10 kids, I was going to be doing good," said Head Coach Phil Kriesel. "But we have 29 kids that came out."

Of those 29, not everyone started as an experienced shooter.

"I hadn't really shot a shotgun before, so first coming here I needed a lot of help from the coaches," said junior Erin Drescher.

But Drescher says she's enjoyed the process of getting better.

"It's been fun to see my score improve every week," said Drescher.

Not only is Drescher a new shooter, she's also one of just two girls on the team. That's something she doesn't seem to mind.

"This is seen as such a men's sports, but it's kind of fun, there's no special treatment," said Drescher.

Other shooters, like Olson have been shooting since they were young. He says the team offers a unique opportunity.

"It's good to get used to something different, out of your comfort zone maybe," said Olson.

Like many sports, there are lessons to be learned at the range.

"If you miss a bird, you've got to move on. It's just like when you run into life problems, tough things come to you, but you have to move on from them," said Olson.

As for the future, those low expectations are now a distant memory with bigger numbers on the horizon.

"Early numbers show we could have 20 kids come out of the junior high next year," said Kriesel.

Only five shooters will graduate this spring, which means the Hodags team could grow by 50 percent. The team is fully funded through its own fundraisers and fees. Coaches say they're always looking for business donations. Shooters that average a score of 20 or better will earn a varsity letter. Seniors will also earn a varsity letter this year because it is the inaugural year.

Story By: Mark Spillane

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Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


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BOULDER JUNCTION - The White Deer triathlon in Boulder Junction is offers nearly 20 miles of running, biking, and canoeing. That all sounds challenging enough for the average person. Just imagine if you couldn't see the course in front of you.

"You can't say could've, would've, should've, because bam, it's too late," said visually impaired runner Todd Roepke.

That mindset pushed Roepke to compete in Saturday's triathlon. Finishing a race like that isn't easy for Todd. The 59-year-old Janesville native was born blind. That's where his trainer Brenda Casamento comes in.

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THREE LAKES - The Three Lakes baseball jerseys still say Blue Jays on them. But with the help of some Knights, Three Lakes has found new success in 2017.

"It's worked out really well, we're all getting along, and obviously our record is showing that we're doing good things on the field too," said Phelps senior Sawyer Rosner.

Just last year, Three Lakes won eight conference games, but still only finished in fourth. Phelps on the other hand went winless at 0-14. Now in year one of their co-op, the TLP Blue Jays have a winning formula.

"The rest of my life I can say I was part of a team that won conference, in 2017. It's exciting to think about," said Three Lakes junior Brad Sowinski.

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PRENTICE - Prentice brothers Taylor and Trace Brayton love playing baseball together. They also love to joke with each other, but a few years ago, there wasn't much joking on the Prentice baseball team. The Bucs barely had enough players to field a team, but things have changed since then.

"Our numbers have gone up. I think we had nine [players] my freshman year, and now we're up to 15 and increasing," said Taylor Brayton.

This season the Bucs have won six conference games. That's four more than a year ago and six more than a winless 2015 season. The Brayton brothers are two big reasons for that steady increase.

"They're both just great kids, great leaders. They're quiet leaders. They just let their actions show," said Head Coach Joe Parisi.

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PRENTICE - Edgar outlasted the rain and Prentice on the baseball diamond to earn a win on Monday evening.

Check out the highlights plus a look at the current Marawood Conference standings!

Photo Courtesy: Central Wisconsin Sports

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RHINELANDER - The spring sports season will come to a close here in a few weeks. But for the Rhinelander boys tennis team, they're still finding success late in the season.

The Hodags hosted the Great Northern Conference meet this afternoon. Rhinelander tennis is usually known for its winning ways. That's partly because of their coach, Bob Heideman. He's been with the team for over 30 years.

"He's just so willing to work with players. He goes out of his way to help anyone he can. From the bottom to the top, he's always there working with people and making them an all-around good player," said senior, Logan Wild.

Wild is just one of Rhinelander's three seniors. He was a four-year varsity letterman for the Hodags and is going to miss the team a lot.
"The fact that it's going to be ending is bittersweet. It's nice to end it on our home court and finish out the season strong and hopefully come out with a conference victory," said Wild.

The Great Northern Conference title did in fact go to Rhinelander. Antigo came in second and Medford came in third.

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When starting a marathon, you're thinking about if you've prepared enough, about your muscles and hydration.

The water station at mile seven has been sponsored by Trig's ever since the marathon first started.

"21 years, very proudly to say," said volunteer Terry Tryggeseth.

Handing people water, Gatorade and other hydration only lasts a matter of seconds. But since they've done it for so long, the group sees some familiar faces.

"And they recognize us so that's kind of neat. And be able to cheer them on and say 'Hey, I remember you from last year or the year before!'" said Tryggeseth.

The group wears costumes every year to keep the runners going.

"Mile 7, a piece of heaven," said Tryggeseth.

And that seventh mile catches runners at the perfect time.

"I think at mile seven, they're still in a pretty good mood," said Tryggeseth.

There was one couple that really stuck with Tryggeseth.

"Years ago, there was a gentleman, him and his wife used to run. She was blind and he would run [with her] and they ran the entire marathon," said Tryggeseth.

Bottom line, the group of cheerleaders enjoy the simple, yet necessary, act of handing out water.

"We're just here having fun and we're proud to cheer on our community," said Tryggeseth.

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NORTHWOODS - According to the DNR's winter index, last winter was the sixth mildest in the last 60 years. That could mean a rise in the deer population as a whole. To see what the overall deer population might look like, the DNR will collar and study fawns in southwestern Wisconsin in the coming weeks.

DNR Deer and Elk Research Scientist Dan Storm says the study is similar to the one used in Sawyer County just a few years ago.

"Fawn survival, it varied depending on how severe the preceding winter was. That was a big factor. Out of all those predators we could identify, the number one predator there was black bears," said Storm.

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NORTHWOODS - On Wednesday Newswatch 12 told the story of 32-year old Annie Weiss and her attempt to run the entire Ice Age Trail in less than three weeks. Just ten days into the quest, Weiss has decided to stop.

She posted on her Instagram page late Wednesday that pain and swelling in her lower legs made it nearly impossible to walk.

A physical therapist told her she was likely facing stress reactions in both legs.

Weiss completed more than 400 miles of the 1,200 mile trail.

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"It's not all about the kill, it's about the hunt, it's about the experience, it's about being in Mother Nature," said Brost.

Brost has hunted, fished, and trapped his entire life. He's hunted all across the country too, and competes in hunting competitions. For the last decade he's passed along those passions to Kyle, a senior at Lakeland Union High School.

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WISCONSIN - Hard hits and accidents in the sports world are sometimes unavoidable. Rib Lake junior and lineman, Zach Makovsky, know how true that is.

"I was laying on the ground and everything was fuzzy and sounds were very distant," said Makovsky.

He suffered a concussion last season. That led to tests and medical care.

"It started with a CAT scan and then they went into an MRI to make sure everything was okay. And those two things are extremely expensive," said Makovsky.

Cases like his are why the WIAA decided to cover every student athlete across the state with concussion insurance.

"It provides a safety net for every student athlete at a WIAA member school," said WIAA Executive Director, Dave Anderson.

That means about 80,000 students in middle and high school, no matter what sport they play, will have full coverage.

"If there is no coverage or in the case of, say a high deductible, this insurance will come in and cover up to $25,000," said Anderson.

Makovsky thinks this could even convince some new students to try out for sports.

"Because I know parents are like 'If you get hurt, we can't afford this, we can't afford that'. But if they feel like there's a safety net for them, they'll say 'Yeah, sure, I'd like for you to play sports'," said Makovsky.

The plan isn't a cheap one for the WIAA but Anderson takes pride in knowing that Wisconsin is the fourth state to cover their student athletes.

"Absolutely good, absolutely right. It'll help our member schools and I think it'll help identify this association overall as doing all that they can to look after the wellbeing of young student athletes," said Anderson.

"It feels like we're being taken care of, not just the big schools. Because we get hurt too," said Markovsky.

The insurance plan will begin on August 1st when the official WIAA season starts.

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