Hodag tennis stays undefeated with conference meet on the horizon Submitted: 09/19/2019

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Hodag tennis knocked off Lakeland Thursday evening to move to 6-0 in G-N-C duals, just a head of the conference meet next week. 

Rhinelander won all seven matches against the T-Birds. 

The Hodags have now won 40 total conference matches. 

Head coach Bob Heidemen said this is the exact spot he wants his team to be in as the regular season wraps up.

"We really emphasize that every night we go out everyone has to play well," Heidemen said. It's not just that you know if we win enough matches to win the match is good enough, if you're shooting for a conference crown you need every flight playing well."

Rhinelander will squeeze one more dual against Newman Catholic on Friday.

The Hodags are eyeing their ninth GNC title in 10 years.

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- MINOCQUA--Bart Starr and 24 other Green Bay Packers hold places in the NFL Hall of Fame.

But Starr's quarterbacking skills didn't totally define him as a man.

He built his legacy as a beloved sports hero, a good Samaritan and family man.

Starr remains the only quarterback ever to lead his team to five NFL titles in a single decade.

But for Randy Gilson, Starr is the one Green Bay Packer who took advice from a seven-year-old statistician in 1963.

"Life was simpler but it was fun being a Green Bay Packer fan," Gilson said.
Randy grew up in Algoma, Wisconsin just outside of Green Bay. His dad worked for the Packers during a few training camps. That's when the love of the green and gold grew in young Randy.

"I studied everything I could, if there was a book or a magazine, I would pick it up," Gilson said.

On a Sunday afternoon in the 1963 season, Randy asked his parents to take him to the airport to welcome home a winning Green Bay Packer team.

It was another chance for him to share the latest stats, starting with Bart Starr.

"I said well congratulations with the 17 passes you threw without an interception you now hold the all-time Packer record," Gilson said.

Randy said Starr acknowledged the stat and then asked him who is favorite player was.

"I said mister Starr can you remind how many offensive starters we have. He said eleven so I said eleven offensive starters, defensive starters, a kicker and a punter. So I said you are somewhere around my 20th or 21st favorite player and he said how can that possibly be," Gilson said.

Randy's response takes us all back to the 1962 Thanksgiving Day Massacre between the unbeaten Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

"That was our only loss and I said and back in the old days you called them quarterback tackles not sacks so I said you got tackled ten times in that game and you also threw two interceptions. If you are going to be in this league, you got to get rid of the ball quicker," Gilson said.

Randy is convinced the small but strong piece advice stuck with Bart Starr his entire career.

"After I gave him the advice he went on to throw 113 more touchdown passes, over 17,000 yards in passing yards, he won four more NFL championships, including four Super Bowl titles and was MVP the Super Bowl twice," Gilson said.

Looking back on the conversation, Randy realized he might have been too harsh but his seven-year-old self just wanted the Packers to win.

"It was a person that I saw on television, he was a celebrity and so I'm going tell the truth. I'm going tell him how I feel and if I could help him if I could help you somehow help the Packers I wanted to help them," Gilson said.

Now one of Randy's most prized possessions' is a signed photograph of Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr and Zeke Bratkowski from the Ice Bowl in 1967.

"I'm to the point to where if I don't care about the Packers anymore, I won't be alive," Gilson said.

Bart Starr passed away on May 26 at the age of 85. The Packers dedicated the 2019 season to honor Bart Starr and his legacy.

"He was a great teammate, just an all pro. He did it the right way and he was a winner, he was a winner in life. He was a leader without trying to be a leader and so I think that's a cool thing," Gilson said.

Randy Gilman is a Packers season ticket holder and has been to more than 150 games in his lifetime.

Next Sunday look real close at the Packers uniforms. You will see a No. 15 decal on their helmets to honor his life and legacy. 

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- GREEN BAY--Aaron Kraemer has been named the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week.

Kraemer is in his first year as head coach of the Hodags. 

He's led the team to four straight wins to start the season.

The Hodag football program will receive a two thousand dollar donation from the green and gold..

It's the first time they've started 4 and 0 since 1974.

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RHINELANDER - Schools often encourage kids to show up and support their sports teams.

That can sometimes be a financial burden on students.

Rhinelander High School introduced a new initiative to make that less of a problem.

The next time Rhinelander's crowd storms the field, you should expect a lot more people, thanks to the school board's decision to eliminate all student admission fees for Hodag games.

"Our teams are having really good success this year and I think this just adds to the excitement of our community a little bit," basketball coach Ryan Clark said.

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MEDFORD - Ted Wilson does what one might expect a dad to do: help his son Ean study for a big test.

"It's very difficult to turn off the coaching when you're at home watching film," Ted said.

Of course, the Medford football team is joining the study session.

"What he expects out of me, he also expects out of everybody else," Ean said of his father.

Ean has been one of Medford's varsity running backs for the last three seasons, which means he's been coached by his father Ted for just as long.

"I'm pretty sure I am like him," Ean said. "I'm pretty loud myself and I get excited when we do well."

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MERRILL - Ten volleyball teams met in Merrill's gymnasium Saturday. They came for the annual Merrill Invite.

It's an early chance to size up some teams from the Northwoods. Three area teams took center stage.

The Tomahawk Hatchets are trying to notch their first winning season since 2015.

Tomahawk made it to the semi-final game before losing to Merrill in straight sets. Medford is the other 2-0 GNC team at the moment.

The Raiders finished second in the conference last year. They're led by senior Kamry Albrecht, who hit .382 during conference play in the 2018 season.

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Friday Night Blitz 9.13.19Submitted: 09/13/2019

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NORTHWOODS - Wausau East 13 Rhinelander 31
Medford 49 Lakeland Union 7
Mosinee 41 Merrill 7
Peshtigo 8 Crandon 0
Auburndale 56 Tomahawk 6
Three Lakes/Phelps 24 Phillips 46
Sturgeon Bay 8 Chequamegon 38
Stratford 46 Columbus 0
Dover/Eyota 8 Edgar 42
Rib Lake/Prentice 0 Marathon 54
DC Everest 7 Fond du Lac 55
Kimberly 41 SPASH 7
Kaukauna 35 Marshfield 7
Wausau West 7 Oshkosh West 17
Appleton West 12 Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln 28

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MEDFORD - Rain or shine, the Medford cross country teams never skip a beat.

From winning the division two state cross country title, to running through the rainy trails of Taylor county. Medford's goals remain the same.

"We are determined to win."

The Raiders returned five girls from their championship team.

"Coaches told us we have to put it behind us, it was awesome and stuff but we just want to go for it again and with that in our heads I think we will do good," said senior runner Franny Seidel. 

"It's different than last year because I feel like we have a target on us and we actually feel the pressure," said junior Alicia Kawa.

That pressure has transformed into two meet titles and accomplishing something many other teams can't.

"Running against faster kids is what makes you faster," said Medford head coach Kevin Wellman.

In the first three meets of the season, Medford's top runners have all placed in the top 20. 

"Top seven is varsity. The seven fastest are on varsity, so you want that spot you have to earn it." Wellman said.

But accomplishing those results doesn't happen overnight.

"At practice it's really like a race because we are constantly competing against each other," Kawa said. 

So what really makes a championship team successful?

"Doing the right thing is doing it even when no one is watching. We send kids on a run and think they might cut corners. We aren't worried about it with these guys," Wellman said. 

The state title is in the rear-view mirror, but Medford pride lives on forever.

"Our running program is really good and I am happy to be a part of that," Seidel said.

"I wouldn't want to be on any other team," Kawa said.

The Medford boys team is making waves too, its won two meets and placed fourth in Marshfield on Tuesday. 

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Local Sports Report: 9/10/19Submitted: 09/10/2019

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NORTHWOODS - Wausau West boys soccer moves to 3-0 in conference, topping D.C. Everest 3-0.

Marshfield soccer beat Merrill, 3-2.

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MIAMI - MIAMI (AP) - Milwaukee Brewers star Christian Yelich broke his right kneecap on a foul ball Tuesday night and will miss the rest of the regular season.

The Brewers didn't say whether the reigning NL MVP might be able to return for the playoffs that begin Oct. 1 if they make it that far. Milwaukee began the day two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild-card spot.

Yelich fouled a ball off his right leg in the first inning against Miami. He was down on the ground for several minutes before limping off the field.

Yelich hit .329 with 44 home runs and 97 RBIs along with 30 stolen bases this season. The outfielder was leading the majors in slugging percentage and OPS when he was hurt.

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RHINELANDER - Above Rhinelander's pool hangs a record board with the name Francis plastered all over it.

"I mean, I want my name up there too," Malia Francis said.

Francis sees it every day and hopes to join her siblings.

"I think it helps to have my older siblings swim because I've been around them for so long and I've seen them going through everything," Francis said.

Malia is the younger sister of Kiah and Nolan Francis, who delivered some of the best swims in Hodag history before going on to compete at division one colleges.

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