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7-on-7 passing league concludes Submitted: 07/17/2014

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RHINELANDER - High school football doesn't kick off for another few weeks, but you wouldn't have known it Thursday in Rhinelander.

Football players from Rhinelander, Lakeland, and Northland Pines High Schools came together for a 7-on-7 scrimmage at Rhinelander High School. It was the last of several games played over the last few weeks.

The passing league gives players a less intense way to prepare for the upcoming season.

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Pickleball's popularity is soaring in the Northwoods Submitted: 07/17/2014

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THREE LAKES - "I said what the heck is pickleball, and he said come on, I'll show you," exclaimed Melody West of the Eagle River Pickleball Association.

The sound of pickleball's connecting with paddles can be heard every day of the week in Three Lakes.

Gillian Hough and Candy Lamb of Summerfield, Florida explain, "It's kind of a combination of ping pong, and badminton or tennis."

Three Lakes pickleball promoter Chuck Radtke added, "The court is smaller than a tennis court. It's easy on the knees, easy on the ankles."

The sport has a huge following in Florida and Arizona, but people in the Northwoods are catching on quickly.

"In Three Lakes we play more pickleball than anywhere else in the state. Our courts are open 24/7 and it's free for all," said Radtke.

Three Lakes hosted 120 players in their first national tournament last weekend.

John Kobach of Three Lakes was pleased with the event. Kobach said, "Two healthy days of healthy exercise and having fun and being competitive with each other."

The game is most popular in retirement communities, but local schools are starting to get the younger generation involved.

"They are teaching it in the high school system in both Eagle River and Three Lakes as part of the racquet sport curriculum," explains Kobach.

Most importantly, it helps get people off the couch.

"They say move it or lose it. So we'll keep moving as long as we can," exclaimed Gillian and Candy.

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Northwoods Spotlight - Eagle River MMA - July 9 Submitted: 07/09/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - Last Saturday, the Northwoods Combat Challenge showcased a dozen Mixed Martial Arts bouts.

Seven bouts were a Border Battle series between competitors from Wisconsin and Michigan. The winning state, would earn a trophy.

"It just went phenomenal," Dave Sixel of Sixel's Fight Club said. "I'm happy to see Wisconsin win the trophy. We'll probably hold two MMA cards in Wisconsin, and two in Michigan."

For some of the competitors, the even was about more than this. One Sugar Camp fighter is raising money for her animal rescue.

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Caitlin Riley ready to join the Badgers Submitted: 07/07/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - Many high school graduates can take their time preparing for college life this summer. But some athletes will be reporting to camp soon at their respective colleges, including Eagle River's Caitlin Riley.

Caitlin signed a national letter of intent to go to Wisconsin and play soccer for the Badgers starting this fall.

She attended Northland Pines her freshman and sophomore years and then moved to Minnesota to play for Shattuck-St. Mary's School. Riley played foward throughout her high school career.

Shattuck-St. Mary's is one of the top prep soccer programs in the country and helped Caitlin get ready for this next step.

"It's really a home away from home. Everyone there is there for your best interests, they want what's best for you. They want to help you get where you want to be," Caitlin explains. "Academically, athletically, just becoming a better person is what they want to help you become."

Caitlin was looking at many different colleges, but Wisconsin always had a special place in her heart.

"When I was in 8th grade I went to one of their soccer camps and I remember texting my mom after I'd just been in the stadium and saying I'm going to play here one day," says Caitlin.

Riley has high hopes for her time on the team and is confident they can go far if they keep a positive attitude.

"One of our big things at Madison is that it's all in your mindset. If you think you're going to win, you want to win and have the will, then there's nothing holding you back."

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Schneider falls in MMA bout Submitted: 07/06/2014

EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River Derby Track held the Northwoods Combat Challenge Saturday night.

A dozen Mixed Martial Arts bouts were on the card.

Hundreds of fans enjoyed the action under the big tent.

In the Main Event - Stef Schneider of Sugar Camp faced Missy Pontbraind from Norway, MI.

The 3-round bout went to the scorecards.

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Former Hodags relive their glory days on the diamond Submitted: 07/05/2014

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RHINELANDER - Ever wish you could relive your glory days from high school? Well, baseball players who went to Rhinelander had the chance to do just that.

Recent graduates and some from as far back as the Class of 1980 laced up their cleats Saturday. This was the second annual alumni get together.

The game was sponsored by the Hodag Diamond Club and gave the former Hodags a chance to reconnect and brush up on their skills.

"Everyone after high school kind of goes their own way, so it's nice we all have this in common," explains Tyler Henkel. "To all come back and get on the field one more time with all your friends from high school is really fun."

Many of the players had the chance to get on the field with relatives for the first time and of course that led to some healthy competition.

"Playing with the nephew is great. I watched him growing up and watched him play all the time," says Todd Henkel. "I think I've still got it, so I get to show him how to do it today."

The even numbered graduating classes took home the win, 9-4.

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Hedges Jr. earns holiday feature Submitted: 07/04/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - Friday was a huge night of racing at Eagle River Speedway. 82 cars were competing - the most at the track in recent years. Some lucky kids got the chance to ride on the track during the National Anthem.

In a makeup feature - in the Pure Stocks, C.J. Hedges Junior of Tomahawk made a pass late in the race on the outside.

C.J. would go on to take the feature.

In another makeup feature in the Street Stocks... it was Jordan Curdey of Moose Crossing taking the checkered flag.

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MMA returns to Eagle River this weekend Submitted: 07/03/2014

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SUGAR CAMP - On Saturday, Eagle River derby Track will be hosting the Northwoods Combat Challenge.

Several mixed Martial Artists from Sixel's Fight Club out of Sugar Camp will be competing.

It will feature a Border Battle Competition between fighters from Wisconsin and Michigan. 9 fights in the series.

In the main event, Stef Schneider of Sugar Camp will face Missy Pontbriand of Michigan.

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Northwoods Spotlight - Pavelski golf event - July 2 Submitted: 07/02/2014

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STEVENS POINT - NHL star Joe Pavelski feels at home on the ice... but he also enjoys hitting the links. The combination of the two sports led to his annual charity event.

Marisa Silvas caught up with the former Badger in this week's Northwoods Spotlight.

Joe Pavelski returned home to many smiling faces. The Plover native reconnected with his roots for his 6th annual charity golf tournament.

"When I can come back to Plover and Stevens Point and see friends and everyone that traveled for the event it's always special," Pavelski explains.

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Local Drivers Finish Big at Crandon Submitted: 06/29/2014

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CRANDON - The legendary Crandon International Raceway provided drivers and fans with another spectacular weekend. The annual Brush Run wrapped up Sunday.

There were 137 races over the past two days. The biggest one pitted the Pro 4x4 Trucks against the Pro 2's in the Forest County Potawatomi Cup. It was Chad Hord of Felch, Michigan taking home the second cup of his career.

Earlier in the day, in the Pro 4x4 Trucks Johnny Greaves of Abrams, Wisconsin pushed out to an early lead and coasted in for the win.

Then in the Pro 2 wheel drive, Johnny's son C.J. Greaves sped out to the front. C.J. led from wire-to-wire, taking the checkered with more than a 3 second advantage.

The Pro Light race had 22 trucks on the track. Nick Baumgartner crashed on the first lap. Then on the restart there was a ton of dust in turn one and a huge pileup. Bryan Osborn ended up on his side. He'd climb out and be ok.

So third try was the charm. After running a tight race, Crandon's own Keegan Kincaid in the number 7 won in front of the home crowd.

All the drivers enjoyed putting on a show.

"We had to get ready three times because of the restarts but that's racing I guess, that happens, Kincaid explains. "Being in front of my home crowd, home track means more than anything to me. I'm just happy to be up here again. Winning never gets old."

Other local drivers put on quite a show at the Big House as well.

Rhinelander's Mark Steinhardt swept the weekend's races in the 1600 Buggy. Steiny has been racing at Crandon since 1985 but he says the thrill is still the same now, as the first time he took the track.

"On the starting line my stomach still has butterflies. Once you lose that I think you're losing your edge," says Steinhardt. "You've gotta be nervous. But the land rush start here is unbelievable. The fans are unbelievable, the officials do a great job. Of course being my home track, I always look forward to coming here cause I know a lot of people in the stands."

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