RHINELANDER - You don't have to be in college to be part of March Madness. Young teams from Northland Pines and Rhinelander received invites to their version of the Big Dance.
"Our team has done very well, considering we weren't as good last year," Alex Fortier of Rhinelander's 5th Grade Team explains. "We've changed a lot and now we're going to state."
"All the kids are looking up to the March Madness people, the college players," Northland Pines 6th grade player Ryan Peterson adds. "But now we get to have our own tournament that's this big too."
More than 700 boys and girls teams from 5th through 8th grade will play in the Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament.
"The jitters of the bigger gymnasiums, the big crowds- it's exciting," Northland Pines head coach Jim Swenson said.
This will be the Eagles second time at state. Several of them got a taste of the high level of competition last year.
"I was kind of happy, kind of nervous because last year we didn't do very good," Northland Pines player Joe Misina admits.
The boys had a scrimmage Monday night. Both squads saw it as an chance to improve.
It's becoming more and more important for young athletes to have opportunities like this. They need experiences on a big stage to prepare them for high school competition.
"The only way we're going to prepare these kids is to start them out now," Rhinelander head coach Todd McEldowney explains. "And not to play against poor competition but to play against the best kids we can. Because that's how they're going to improve."
Other teams taking part include Antigo and Merrill's 5th grade girls teams, Medford and D.C. Everest in 8th grade girls, and Rhinelander and Wittenberg-Birnamwood's 8th grade boys teams.
It runs March 29th through April 13th throughout the state. Appleton, Stevens Point, and Wausau are among several cities hosting the tournament.
CHETEK, WI - A preliminary report from federal aviation investigators says witnesses described hearing an engine backfire before a small plane crashed in Wisconsin last month, killing the teenage pilot and seriously injuring a passenger.
The Leader-Telegram reports that the National Transportation Safety Board interviewed several witnesses who were fishing in a pond near the Red Cedar River at the time of crash on May 24.
FOREST COUNTY - Bringing your pet along to watch fireworks might seem like a fun way to spend the Fourth of July, but you could be doing more harm than good.
July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for most animal shelters.
That's because fearful pets try to escape the bangs and flashes from fireworks and end up lost.
Forest County Humane Society president Jay Schaefer says don't let yourself add to your pet's stress.
Play it down, and make the fireworks a good thing with positive talk and treats.
"They're reading cues from us constantly. So be careful of your body language and the cues you're giving them. If you act like fireworks are a big scary thing they're gonna be like, 'oh my god fireworks are scary,'" says Schaefer.
Exercise can be another way to calm your pet before the big light show.
Burning off the energy earlier in the day may help your pet go to sleep early.
"Take them for a jog on the Fourth of July. I know it's hectic, but do something so they're not all amped up at night when the fireworks go off," says Schaefer.
Like many humans, pets like the smell of lavender.
You can try diffusing the scent around the house to put your pet at ease.
Make sure you have a well-fitting collar and identification tag on your pet.
If flashes are too bright, you might want to close the curtains.
HAZELHURST - A week and a half ago, the Marathon County Dive Team pulled the body of 41-year-old Dominic Flaminio from the Wisconsin River. He drowned while trying to save his girlfriend's eight-year-old son, who was struggling in the current.
When Greg Bohn saw the story at his home in Hazelhurst, he felt like his heart was ripped out.
"This was so preventable," he remembers thinking.
It also motivated him to keep working on a water safety goal he's been chasing for years.
EAGLE RIVER - When your entire theater production fits in the back of your SUV, you need to know how to do -- and be -- just about everything.
"You kind of have to be the jack of all trades," actor Chris Cummings said.
Cummings is a stagehand, a set designer, and this summer a bug. He and fellow actor Jennifer Schreiner travel the Midwest out of their Chicago-area homes for the Traveling Lantern Theatre Company, which is based in Portland, Oregon.
WAUSAU - Every year, firefighters around the country ask their communities to fill up boots with money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Wausau Fire Department kicked off its "Fill the Boot" campaign Tuesday morning.
The fire department will be at local events throughout the summer to collect donations.
The fundraiser helps with research and treatment for neuromuscular diseases for kids and adults.
"It's kind of a rewarding part of the job. Most of what we do is off camera, you don't really get to see all aspects of the fire department. It is a great chance for us to get out there and see all the programs we are involved in to help,"says firefighter Matt Tormohlen.
WISCONSIN RAPIDS - More than three months passed since family and friends have seen a Plover woman.
Krista Sypher, 44, has been missing since March 13.
Since then Plover police have been investigating.
Wednesday that investigation led them to a landfill in Wisconsin Rapids
Plover Police Chief Dan Ault said they've been searching the Cranberry Creek Landfill since Monday. He wouldn't say what they have or have not found. He also couldn't say how or why the investigation led them to this landfill.
Chief Ault said it's possible they might be back to continue the search on Thursday.
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