Sports Spotlight: Peterson brings year-round intensity to Pines basketballSubmitted: 11/18/2019

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EAGLE RIVER - You can hear the first day of practice all the way across the Northland Pines gym.

"Everybody's out there trying to earn a scholarship and trying to get a look from different schools," senior guard Ryan Peterson said.

That especially applies to Peterson, who has one last chance to prove himself as a leader.

"I expect a high level from my teammates because I know they expect a high level from me," Peterson said.

Head coach Terry Klemett has known Peterson since middle school.

"Ryan Peterson is one of those kids that just does everything right," Klemett said. "He's competitive. He's just done a great job of trying to be that leader and building other leaders as well."

With the Eagles losing nine seniors from last season's team, Peterson will need to be that leader more than ever.

"He's strong," senior Joe Misina said. "He'll bully you in there, he can shoot, he can do just about anything."

Peterson learned a lot of these skills playing summer basketball with the prestigious NY2LA team, which has him competing against some of the best talent in Wisconsin.

"I'm not saying the competition in our conference is low, but you're not playing with four or five or six guys or 10 guys every single night that are trying to get to that college level," Klemett said.

Playing against those guys has taught Peterson a valuable lesson.

"There are no friends on the court," Peterson said. "You can be cool with people outside of the game, but as soon as you get into competing, you have to go out and kill and do what you have to do to survive."

Now he's trying to bring that lesson to everyone else.

Peterson and his Pines teammates will play their first game next Tuesday at home against Three Lakes.

Story By: Andrew Goldstein

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MILWAUKEE - There's snow on the ground in Milwaukee, but it doesn't stop Carley Hintz or Stephanie Mauzer from running.

"You're kind of at the bottom and you have to earn your spot," Hintz said.

The two former Lakeland Union T-Birds are on the same team again at Marquette University, where everything is just a little bit bigger.

"I think it's a little different," Hintz said. "You get to see a lot of different cultures in Milwaukee as opposed to Minocqua, but I like it. I like the exposure."

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MADISON - Rhinelander ended up the big winners in yesterday's D2 state swim meet.

The Hodags took home a pair of state titles, but those gold medals aren't the only hardware headed north.

Tomahawk's Kylie Theiler finished on the podium in both of her events.

Theiler took fifth in the 100-yard freestyle and third in the 200-yard freestyle.

She ended up racing against a lot of her friends from the club circuit.

The experience was a little bittersweet.

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EAGLE RIVER - High school hockey teams finally hit the ice for the first time this week. 

The reigning GNC champs wasted no time getting to work.

Northland Pines girls hockey will suit up 14 skaters this season. 

Assistant coach Darren Rubo says the team is working on getting back into shape.

He added that this year's mission is no different than years past. 

"Our goal is just to continue the tradition of Pines hockey and make sure we can play as one team," Rubo said. We are trying to stay away from the co-op situations like most every other team in the state has gone with. We want to be competitive."

Pines scored 42 conference goals and only allowed 12 last season. 

The Eagles will face Medford a week from Monday in their first game of the season. 

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MADISON - Call it destiny. Call it a happy accident. Call it whatever you want.

But when head coach Jenny Heck placed a gold medal around the neck of sophomore Malia Francis, she earned the right to be called a state champion.

"Malia had high goals coming in here and we knew it was a possibility, but she had to swim fast because we knew a lot of the events were going to be really close," Heck said.

Francis won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 56.23, beating the second place finisher by more than a second.

"I was hoping to just be able to pull off one state title … so that was pretty cool," Francis said.

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RHINELANDER - The swimming Hodags received quite the send off before heading to the state meet in Madison. 

RHS students lined the halls to wish the team good luck.

The conference and sectional champs hope to build off the remarkable season they've had in six different events at state. 

Head coach Jenny Heck says she can't wait to see how her girls compete in the state atmosphere. 

"I think it gets so loud in the Natatorium and there is so much excitement there. That alone will get them swimming faster. Their bodies are ready, their minds are ready. I think all of the energy at the Natatorium will help them improve today," Heck said.

Results from the meet will be posted Friday night.

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The Northwoods will be overwhelmingly represented at the state swim meet in Madison on Friday. 

For the first time since 2015, the Lakeland girls' swim team will be sending more than one swimmer to the UW-Natatorium

The Thunderbirds qualified in three individual events and two relays. 

Sophomore Rylee Ahlborn will compete in four different events.

That's a school record for Lakeland. 

"It feels really good, I didn't expect that. I was shooting more for the relays and then they told me on the way home from sectionals that I made it and I was just really excited," Ahlborn said.

The Thunderbirds also broke a school and conference record in the 200-yard freestyle relay this season. 

The record dates back to 2003, the year the majority of the girls were born. 

Now they have the chance to break it again Friday.

"I am so proud of these girls and I couldn't expect more and to be able to represent Lakeland as a team, I am so very grateful and I am honored."

The Division Two meet starts Friday at 2:30. 

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WABENO - Athletes across the country put pen to paper Wednesday to celebrate the chance to get play sports on the collegiate level.

National Signing Day brings smiles, laughs, tears and most importantly a sense of pride.

For Wabeno Senior Sydney Rabe, it's a day she's been dreaming of for years. The six-foot-one middle-hitter signed to play division one volleyball at UW-Green Bay.

"They are so nice, it's great volleyball program and great academics," Rabe said.

Rabe is the first Wabeno athlete to commit to a D1 university.

She holds the school's record with 835 career kills, 533 posted her senior year.

"There's always something to improve on," Rabe said. "There's some great people out there and great teammates make great journeys."

The most special moment in her career was taking her team to the sectional finals this year.

"Life changing really, this season has been different from every other season I've been a part of and I will never forget it," Rabe said.

Now it's on to the next adventure.

"Just the next chapter in my life, something I never thought I would be doing in a millions years and it's going to be a reality soon," Rabe said.

Sydney plans on majoring in Psychology. 

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MERRILL - The familiar sound of bowling balls fills Lincoln Lanes, but this season is anything but normal for the youth bowlers of Merrill.

For the first time in 37 years, former head coach Dan Adamec will no longer be there to watch the kids. Adamec died of cancer in December.

"All the kids looked up to him," head coach Scott Smith said. "I mean, he was more like a parent to some of these kids than a new coach."

In Dan's place is a new coach, one that has no plans to ever filling his shoes.

"Me to try to replace Dan? It would never happen," Smith said. "I'm just trying to be my own coach."

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MERRILL - Everyone in Merrill knew Amber Winter had potential.

"In the pool, she goes hard," senior Trinity Kanitz said.

But not even Amber's mom thought she had this much potential.

"Did we think she'd go where she is right now?," said Kristie Winter, Amber's head coach. "We had high hopes, but we definitely didn't have any assumptions."

Amber broke Merrill's 100-yard breaststroke record, helped break a 200-yard medley record and made state, all as one of the newest swimmers in the Jays' formidable lineup.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - The best swimmers in north central Wisconsin took their talents to sectionals at Wisconsin Rapids Saturday afternoon.

Many athletes broke personal records across the board, but the Rhinelander Hodags stole the show.

The Hodags won the Division Two Swim Sectional title by just one point. 

"I am so excited; we knew we had to have a close to perfect meet for this to happen and it really was that, to win by one point is so exciting and the kids did great, everyone did great and it was just beyond words," said Rhinelander swim coach Jenny Heck. 

Rhinelander posted five first place finishes, automatically qualifying for state. 

"They swam even faster than I thought they would," Heck said. "They just kept getting more excited. They knew they could swim fast. It just got everyone excited knowing we could do it."

Junior Makenna Winnicki and sophomore Malia Francis took the gold in four different events. 

"It was a really amazing feelings, I've never been more proud of this team before," Winnicki said. "I am really happy with what the team has accomplished this season and it's just really good to see all of the hard work we've put in this season finally come to a dream come true.

The wins and the first places finishes mean a little big more to Winnicki. 

Her mom is the assistant coach and has been her her side for every single stroke. 

"It shows how fortunate I am to be on this journey and show how much I've improved and for her to see my success makes me really happy," Winnicki said.

Rhinelander wasn't the only Northwoods team to shine. 

The Lakeland Thunderbirds qualified in three individual events and two relays. 

"We were just telling them, place does not matter, time is what matters," said Lakeland head coach Christine Garcia. "So they were really just focused on what they had to do in their lane and get their best time."

Merrill, the reining sectional champs finished fifth. 

The Bluejays will send two relays and three individual swimmers to state. 

"Every one of them had a personal best swim today they swam their hearts and I am just beaming with joy, I am so proud of them," said Merrill swim coach Kristie Winter. 

A few other notable performances to point out, Kylee Theiler from Tomahawk qualified in the 100 and 200 yard freestyle.

The Medford Raiders will send their 200 yard medley relay to Madison, alongside Erin Bergman in the 100 yard backstroke.

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