Five Hodags headline Northwoods wrestlers advancing to the state tournamentSubmitted: 02/17/2018

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WAUSAU - Last week five Rhinelander wrestlers captured regional championships. On Saturday, all five of those Hodags punched their tickets to the state tournament. Tyler Olson, Jacob DeMeyer and Alec Kurtz won each won their respective weight classes at the Division 1 Wausau West sectional.

Reuben Guzik and Colton Krueger also advanced to state. Olson and Krueger will make their first appearances in Madison. Olson says he's excited to finish his wrestling career with the teammates it started with.

"That's just the greatest experience that I think anybody could ever ask for, knowing that I grew up with these guys. I've wrestled with [Jacob] DeMeyer and [Alec] Kurtz ever since I was pee-wee size, you know kindergarten. This is my 13th year and this is their 13th year," said Olson.

Krueger advanced to the state tournament after a close loss in the sectional final. He says he's not satisfied with just getting there.

"I think all of us have podium potential. Last year I probably would've been more in the mindset of 'I made it, I'm done.' But now that it's my senior year, I'm really gonna give it all I have and make a run at the podium," said Krueger.

In addition to the five Hodags, several other schools will send wrestlers to the state tournament. Brandon Lucht and Korbin Krueger advanced for Antigo in D1.

Lakeland Union's Dejay Nordum, Tate Olson and Jack Scandin all advanced in Division 2.

Story By: Mark Spillane

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - The Rhinelander gymnastics team also won big on Saturday. The team took the Great Northern Conference small school's title in Wisconsin Rapids.

They beat out Mosinee, Medford, Chequamegon and Lakeland Union.

Junior Raven Sturtevant took first team all conference after winning the beam competition. And senior Stephanie Keuster also took first team all conference with her floor exercise.

Keuster wasn't able to compete in conference last year because of an injury, but was happy to be back on top.

"It feels good to be back this year. I'm doing a lot better in my routines this year and I'm having more fun this year than I did last year or sophomore year. We did win conference sophomore year, so it's kind of like a repeat from sophomore year to senior year and it feels really good," said Keuster.

Mosinee's Lydia Ruthe took first place in the all around in the small schools division.

And then Antigo's Emma Jansen did the same thing in the big schools division.

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Friday Night Blitz: 2/16/18Submitted: 02/17/2018

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NORTHWOODS - On this week's Friday Night Blitz we have updates from the state swim meet, playoff hockey and crucial basketball games around the area.

Rhinelander: 56 Antigo: 36
Tomahawk: 60 Crandon: 64
Northland Pines: 49 Medford: 76
Chequamegon: 43 Athens: 65
Stratford: 56 Marathon: 62
Rib Lake: 71 Phillips: 59
Abbotsford: 55 Prentice: 57
Wisconsin Rapids: 70 DC Everest: 51
SPASH: 72 Wausau East: 45
Marshfield: 62 Wausau West: 37

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MADISON - The Lakeland Union swimmers took home a fourth place team finish.

Take a look at the recap.

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#3 Antigo defeats #6 De Pere 6-3
#2 Northland Pines takes down #7 Rhinelander 10-0

Rhinelander boys swim team will compete at the state meet Friday night. Hear how they're feeling before the big night.

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CRANDON - Crandon's new football coach is a longtime assistant of former coach Jim Moore, who stepped down after last season.

The Crandon School Board approved the hire of Blaine Obey as the new coach of the Cardinals on Monday night.

Obey served as an assistant to Moore during Moore's three years at Crandon. He also was an assistant on Moore's staff in Rhinelander.

Crandon is coming off an undefeated conference championship run.

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IRON MOUNTAIN, MI - The Olympic dream came true for thousands of athletes competing in PyeongChang right now. 

But for many others who didn't make the cut, they are still competing and trying to make it to the next Olympic Games. 

Some of those athletes were in Iron Mountain, Michigan last weekend at the Giant Pine Mountain Ski Jumping competition.

"It's all about the flying. The feeling in the air, that's the reason why you start ski jumping," said Pashke.

Pius Pashke is a professional ski jumper from Germany. He was one of the dozens of jumpers that competed at the Pine Mountain Continental Cup event last weekend.

The hill in the U.P. is one of his favorites.

"It's more like a flying hill. You're not so high, but you're flying on the hill and on other hills, they're much higher and you're falling down. This is more fun," said Pashke.

There were two Americans competing against some of the hardest competition.

"As long as you feel fast and you're more like a plane.. going out, instead of up, that's generally when you'll have the best jumps," said Nick Mattoon, a professional ski jumper from Eau Claire.

Mattoon started jumping at the age of five.

"It's like competing at home. It feels so good to be back in the US and competing in front of our crowd," said Mattoon.

He now lives in Slovenia and trains all across Europe.

"I'm blessed beyond measure. I've been able to travel to 28 different countries in my life and I'm 22 so that's pretty cool," said Mattoon.

That training has paid off, but not as well as Mattoon would've hoped.

"Myself and A.J., the two people competing for the U.S. today, missed a spot for the Olympics by one person. So we were close, but not close enough." said Mattoon.

But he's not stopping there.

"I'm still dreaming for the Olympics, that's my goal. So we'll see," said Mattoon.

He already has his sights set for Beijing in 2022.

Ski jumping is more popular in Europe. Pius Pashke said the German team has a lot of young people trying out because their team has been so successful over the past few years.

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NORTHWOODS - Tomahawk struck first and poured it on late to top Pacelli 7-3 at home.

Rhinelander overcame a two-goal deficit in the 3rd period to defeat Mosinee in overtime.

Check out those highlights and all your scores in our Tuesday sports recap!

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MINOCQUA - One of the Northwoods most accomplished high school athletes will stay right here in Wisconsin during his college career.

Lakeland Union senior Kav FitzPatrick has committed to run cross country and track for the Wisconsin Badgers.

FitzPatrick is the current WIAA Division 2 cross country state champion.

As a junior he helped the T-Brids win the team cross country championship. He says he's excited to compete for the school he's always rooted for.

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MINOCQUA - "It seems like it was a few weeks ago that I was a freshman on this team swimming with my brother," said Lakeland Union senior swimmer Jack Garcia.

Three years have passed since Garcia was a freshman for the Thunderbirds. Now, as a senior, he leads the T-Birds, not with his brother, but instead with a friend.

"Second grade he told me 'Hey you should go to swim practice' and I was just like 'alright.' I just wanted to hang out with Jack," said Lakeland Union senior swimmer Grant Gibson.

Since then Gibson has gotten to hang out with Jack a lot.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - Rhinelander wrestling head coach Paul Ellenbecker leads the Hodags team with a quiet confidence.
"We respect everyone but we don't fear anyone either," said Ellenbecker.

That confidence helped the Hodags capture not one, not two, but five individual regional titles in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday.

"To get five champs at a tournament like this with the [Wisconsin] Valley [teams] and how we won it too. We dominated the matches, it wasn't really close. We had pins," said Ellenbecker.

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