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Rhinelander football keeps Mike Webster's memory alive with 'Iron Mike'Submitted: 05/20/2018
RHINELANDER - Rhinelander football honors former Hodag and NFL player, Mike Webster multiple times throughout the year. The field is named after him and this weekend, the team trained like he did by having its annual Iron Mike run.

Mike Webster played for the Hodags and then went on to play for the Pittsburgh steelers. His nickname was Iron Mike and the Rhinelander football team honors him by literally training with iron.

"It weighs on you after a while, carrying 45 pounds for a ways," said senior Reuben Guzik.

Webster would train with 45 pound plates, so now Rhinelander does too. Teams of four run a 3k while carrying a 45 pound plate

"The biggest challenge is pushing yourself with your teammates. You don't want to pass a plate onto a teammate for too long, you don't want to tire them out, you want to carry your load for as much as possible," said Guzik.

Junior wide receiver Josh Francisco ran the Iron Mike for the first time this year.

"It was a little easier than I thought I'd be," said Francisco.

The rules are that someone on the four-person team has to carry the plate the entire way. But then when you cross the finish line, you have to all be holding the plate so you finish as a team. The strategy side of things was almost as hard as the physical challenge.

"We'd help him out or just take the plate from him and let him rest and then take turns from there," said Francisco.

Guzik and his team are all done with their high school football careers but they wanted to keep running in the Iron Mike to make it more fun for everyone involved.

"The seniors when we were younger, they did it and it just gets some friendly competition and see who can do it faster," said Guzik.

Guzik's team finished first in the alumni division and Francisco's team finished first for the current players.

Mike Webster is now known as the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with CTE after numerous concussions. The money raised from the run goes to new helmets and other safety equipment to prevent injuries like CTE.




Story By: Katie Leszcynski

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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ANTIGO -

The Rhinelander Hodags boys tennis team clinched the Great Northern Conference on Friday before the meet even started.

The seedings and points tallied during the season made it so Rhinelander won the tournament before they even hit a ball. 

"Some years we've done it easier than others. Freshman year was not easy at all, but every time we've done it, I think the time and effort put in definitely pays off. It's proof to the testament of Coach Heideman and our program, how much work we put in," said senior Markus Johnson.

The Hodags have now won the title seven out of the last eight years.

That means the senior class has won conference all four years.

This season was Head Coach Bob Heideman's 31st year with the team.

Heideman says the countless titles during his time are all because of the commitment of his team.

"The first thing is that I try to scare them as far as how good the competition is going to be; that if they don't work hard, it's not going to come," said Heideman.


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NORTHWOODS - Three Lakes/Phelps topped Laona-Wabeno 6-3 to win the Northern Lakes Conference softball title.

Crandon split a doubleheader with Elcho in baseball, giving the Cardinals their second NLC loss of the season.

Rhinelander upset Tomahawk in Game 1 of a softball doubleheader, but the Hatchets won Game 2 12-2.

Check below for other area scores from Thursday night.

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WOODRUFF -
In some ways, Lakeland Union's trip to the state golf tournament last year came as a surprise.

"Last year, the team came out of nowhere and went to state. Nobody was really watching us as much," said Lakeland sophomore Ansen Nomm.

It was a team with no seniors that didn't even win its own conference.

But in 2018, the T-Birds are the center of attention.

"This year, everyone is looking at us, they're gunning for us, they want to beat us," said Nomm.

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WAUSAU - Wausau East sophomore Cinneidi Comfort feels at home in the net for the Wausau Wolfpack lacrosse team.

"My lowest save percentage was 60%. I think that's a little bit above the average save percentage in the state for girls goalie," said Comfort.

Comfort had up to a 90% save percentage this season. Comfort is the top goalie in the state with 89 saves in only eight games.

"It feels really good because I've worked so hard for it, but it's any other day," said Comfort.

She isn't the only player on the Wolfpack that's playing with a top spot in mind.

Junior Natalia Robinson is second in the state for goals, with 36 goals in eight games. The top scorer has 40 goals in 12 games, so Robinson's on track to become number one.

Robinson started playing lacrosse in sixth grade when she lived in Rhode Island.

"It's so popular down on the east coast, I just fell in love with it. My coaches there were really great and they're great now too," said Robinson.

She moved to Tomahawk a few years later and was happy to see that there was a team for her, even if that meant a 45 minute drive to play.

"It's 100% worth it. Lacrosse is my sport, it's my passion," said Robinson.

Just like Comfort saying it's a regular day, Robinson also wants to downplay the spotlight and get the focus back to her teammates.

"This year, I've been trying to at least keep my goals per game average up to four to five goals per game. Usually after I score four goals in a game, then I try to settle down and get other girls with an assist," said Robinson.

That team-oriented mindset is paying off. The Wolfpack is 7-1 so far and the girls now play their home games at Thom Field for the first time ever.

"We're playing in the stadium, we're getting announced, we're being recognized by the schools, so that feels really good," said Comfort.

The sport of lacrosse is growing fast in Wausau and both Comfort and Robinson hope to see that continue.

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NORTHWOODS -
Three Lakes/Phelps overcame a four run deficit in the 7th inning in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader to defeat Elcho. The Blue Jays won Game 2 and are now tied with Crandon for first place in the Northern Lakes Conference.

Antigo swept Rhinelander in a baseball doubleheader to stay unbeaten in the Great Northern Conference at 11-0.

Rhinelander soccer lost just it's second GNC game in six years with a 1-0 home loss to Ashland.

Check out those highlights and our area scores below.

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IRONWOOD, MI - The Copper Peak Sky Flying Hill in Ironwood transformed into a different kind of hill this weekend. Copper Peak hosted its first ever Red Bull 400 on Saturday. 

The rules were simple, all you had to do was run to the top.

"I don't know, it just sounded like fun," said Tanner Hermes from Duluth, Minnesota.

Fun wasn't the word anyone used after the race.

"Hard. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be," said Hermes.

450 runners took the challenge, all based off the description they found online.

"We got here and we saw the size of the hill and we said, 'oh wow, that's a lot bigger than the pictures'," said Stephanie Knutson from Ontario, Canada.

Knutson and her partner Roger Boyer Jr. made a drastic life change within the last year. 

"I was 396 pounds and I woke up that morning and looked at the sun and thought, 'today's the day I'm going to change or I'm going to die'," said Boyer Jr.

He's lost 150 pounds in 11 months and they wanted a big way to celebrate that accomplishment.

"Here we are! We did it," said Knutson.

The Red Bull event was the big challenge the runners were hoping for. The steepest 400 meter race in the world tested more than their quads and lungs, it tested gravity.

"If you leaned back too far, you felt like you were going to fall over backwards," said Hermes.

This was the first event that's been on the hill since 1994. Copper Peak is trying to change that and get ski jumping back in Ironwood. They're hoping that with the help of the Red Bull 400, it can happen in the next few years.

"I hope that more people are aware of this and it brings more tourism to the area," said Hermes.

Just like the runners, Copper Peak is hoping to take that challenge one step at a time.

"This is a good metaphor for life. You're sitting at the bottom looking at something that seems so impossible to accomplish. But if you take one step at a time and keep moving forward and listen to all the positive things around you, you're going to make it," said Knutson.

22-year-old Ian Torchia from Marquette, MI won the men's race with a time of 4:47.5.

25-year-old Anna Mooi from Ironwood, MI won the women's race with a time of 7:15.3.

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MINOCQUA - Check in with the T-Bird Invite results, as well as other scores from around the Northwoods.

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THREE LAKES -
The saying goes that baseball is a thinking man's game, and secret signs are a big part of a team's strategy.

But for Three Lakes/Phelps, those secret signs are more like secret codes.

"It's one through about 600 and there are colors and different variations," Co-Head Coach Tyler Lorenz.

Blue Jays coaches call out a color or number using wristbands similar to a quarterback's play sheet.

"All they have to do is look down and say 'okay that's my job for this upcoming pitch'," said Lorenz.

It's something Lorenz brought to the program three years ago.

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NORTHWOODS - Check out the highlights from around the area on Thursday night.

BASEBALL
Medford: 0
Antigo: 10
Medford: 0 Antigo: 12
Rhinelander: 1 Mosinee: 3
Rhinelander: 2 Mosinee: 6
Northland Pines: 5 Tomahawk: 1
Northland Pines: 5 Tomahawk: 1
Amherst: 7 Witt-Birn: 5
Amherst: 7 Witt-Birn: 6

SOFTBALL
Mosinee: 8 Rhinelander: 1
Mosinee: 10 Rhinelander: 2
Lakeland: 4 Crandon: 7
Chequamegon: 11 Prentice: 0
Athens: 13 Rib Lake: 7
Auburndale: 8 Stratford: 14

GIRLS SOCCER
Mosinee: 0 Rhinelander: 9
Lakeland: 0 Ashland: 3

BOYS TENNIS
Lakeland: 3 Medford: 4
Antigo: 0 Rhinelander: 7


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EAGLE RIVER -
If there's one word that comes to mind when you walk through the Eagle River Ice Arena, it's history.

"I look up at all the banners that show the decades of hockey teams that have gone to state at all levels," said Lynne Nimmer.

Nimmer's family has been a part of those decades of history. More than 25 years ago, Lynne and her husband Ken helped her parents start a trust fund that gave the Eagle River Recreation Association $90,000.

"My mother grew up here, and my mother was a teacher here," said Nimmer.

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