MERRILL - The Merrill Bluejays wrestling team will be very busy the next two weeks.
Seven members of the team have qualified for this week's state individual wrestling tournament.
The Bluejays have also qualified for next week's team wrestling championships.
Both are in Madison.
Wednesday afternoon, the Bluejays held their final practice before heading down to state. Competition begins Thursday.
Three sectional champions lead the Bluejays efforts. 170-pounder David Pophal, 220-pound defending state champ Tyler Schmidt, and Ben Hintze at 182.
Head coach Scott Arneson is a Rhinelander native. In fact he won a state championship for the Hodags in 1984.
Arneson and the Bluejays are ready to get started.
"The best thing is we do get wrestle next weekend," Arneson explains. "It's made our practices this week and hopefully our accomplishments this weekend a lot easier. There's less pressure because we know we get another opportunity to wrestle."
"Mr. Arneson is a very intense coach," Pophal adds. "That's how we like to wrestle. We like to be intense and totally in control."
"It's phenomenal," defending Division One 220 pound state champion Tyler Schmidt says. "Last year I was happy with four teammates heading down. This year, seven wrestlers are headed down. We're all such a tight knit group - like a family. It's awesome having seven going (to state)."
"It's nice to be representing the school and Merrill," Hintze - making his first trip to state - points out. "We have a great fan base. We've had that all year. Going down there is going to be awesome."
To check out the state brackets for all three divisions, click on the link below.
EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River's annual Paul Bunyan Fest brings out thousands of people. This year was no exception. Organizers say about 3,000 people filled the streets of downtown Eagle River on Wednesday.
The 37th annual Paul Bunyan Fest featured chainsaw carving demonstrations, more than 80 arts and craft booths, and music.
RHINELANDER - You probably wouldn't consider a dark, smelly alley an ideal place to sit and relax. Maggie Steffen agrees, which is why she's planning to transform an alley on Brown Street in Rhinelander.
Steffen plans to tackle the project in three phases. Phase one is lighting the alley, which sits between The Brick restaurant and Bath and Body Creations. Downtown Rhinelander, Inc. agreed to pay about $2,800 for five LED lights if the city would pay for the electricity.
RHINELANDER - DNR Furbearer Research Scientist Dr. Nathan Roberts calls bobcats "a conservation success story." Their population numbers are up across the United States.
The DNR doubled the harvest quota this year at 750 bobcats because of that healthy population size.
"While the population's grown, we've also increased our understanding of bobcats considerably. Working together with hunters and trappers across the state we've increased our understanding of bobcats and our ability to monitor bobcats," said Roberts.
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