Merrill slides two point win over Rhinelander in season openerSubmitted: 11/16/2018

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Story By: Mazie Vincent

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Thursday Night Sports Report Submitted: 11/15/2018

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CRANDON - It's pretty rare that a state bound team returns every single girl on the roster the next season.

The Cardinals have all their talent back and have their eye on something even bigger. 

"It definitely feels good to be back out here with the girls. I've been looking forward to it all year," Neilitz said.

It's been 8 months since first team all-conference player Alexa Neilitz and the Crandon Cardinals competed 
at the state basketball tournament for the first time ever.

This season, the team has the same goals but with a different mindset.

"We definitely want to work on staying positive all season and picking each other up," Neilitz said.

The players say they are focusing on keeping their expectations in check.

"I know that we can never look past a team. We still have to work hard, harder than last season. I think that if we stick together, we will make it just as far," Neilitz said.

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MERRILL - Lincoln Lanes had never been so busy, with dozens of bowlers occupying almost every open lane and hundreds more jamming into the event space.

All anyone could think about was the one person who wasn't there: former Merrill bowling coach Dan Adamec.

"We love him," Adamec's niece Staci Olson said. "That's why everyone is here."

Adamec wanted to support his youth team in person, but his stage four bladder cancer didn't give him the chance.

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EAGLE RIVER - The current generation of the Ramesh family first competed for the Northland Pines High School team in 2009.

While most people in the Northwoods have seen highlights of former Pines running back Austin Ramesh, you may not know his sister Cameron is getting ready for her biggest hockey season yet.

"I think I have the ability to lead the team and carry the offense this year," Ramesh said.

She also carried the offense last season with 12 goals.

"She was our leading goal-scorer last year and she knows that's going to be expected of her this year," head coach Patrick Schmidt said.

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GREEN BAY - After the game, Packers fans found themselves asking which Aaron is more important for the second half of the season--Aaron Rodgers or Aaron Jones?

The star of the show Sunday night was second-year running back Aaron Jones.

He ran for a career high of 145 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offense.

Not only did Jones bust out his best moves to push the Packers back to .500, he played his heart out for his family.

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MADISON - A dozen Northwoods swimmers competed for the last time this season.

Rhinelander, Medford, Merrill and Tomahawk all had swimmers at the state meet in Madison

The talent at the state meet was insane.

Tomahawk started the day a little rocky, their bus broke down on the way to the Natatorium, but that didn't 
keep them from reaching the podium multiple times Friday.

All three hatchet relays made it onto the podium, another one of its school record broken.

Tomahawk senior Kaylie Svacina and junior Kylie Thieler podiumed in all four of their events.

The Hatchets placed third overall, a moment they have been waiting for a long time.

"Considering we swam our absolute best, we are happy with that," said Tomahawk senior Katy Volz. "With it being my senior year I just wanted to enjoy every moment with teammates and get to be able to share that with them is super special."

Merrill added to their season's success too.

Freshman Grace Shultz reached the podium in the 100-yard backstroke.

The team had three other top 10 finishes too.

Head coach Kristie Winter said the best word to describe the Bluejay season is iconic.

"It's just been a great season. It's been a Cinderella story," Winters said. "We started off winning our first meet in 20 years back in August and since then we just kept going on and on and on and winning."

Medford's Erin Bergman also podiumed in the 100-yard backstroke.

Rhinelander's Makenna Winnicki placed 7th in the 500-yard freestyle.

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MINOCQUA - Lakeland's Nordic ski team shared their passion with the rest of Minocqua Saturday through an event that brought in thousands of dollars.

The team hosted its 32nd annual winter gear swap at the high school fieldhouse.

Vendors and neighbors sold skis, snowboarding gear and winter jackets, with 20 percent of all sales going toward Lakeland's nordic skiing team.

Since Nordic skiing isn't a WIAA sponsored sport, Lakeland has to raise money for travel and supplies themselves.

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MINOCQUA - People in Minocqua gathered at the Minocqua Brewing Company Thursday to support a local member of the U.S Ski team.

Lakeland grad Kevin Bolger had the best debut for an American at the Nordic Skiing World Cup in the spring.

He's back in town fundraising and preparing for the winter season.

The fundraiser included a dinner, a raffle and some live music.

The money raised will go directly towards travel and equipment.

Bolger wanted the chance to update his hometown on his plans for the upcoming season and thank them for all of the support.

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RHINELANDER - Northwoods schools will be represented in every single event at the state swim meet on Friday.

In the past few days we've mentioned the success from Tomahawk, Medford and Merrill.

Now Rhinelander wishes they were sending more than just one swimmer to Madison, but sophomore 
Makenna Winnicki will represent the Hodags on Friday.

"It's really rewarding seeing that all my hard work has had a good outcome," Winnicki said.

For Winnicki, a good outcome means qualifying for the state swim meet for the second year in a row.

"It's exciting knowing that I am going back and that I am qualified in two events also," Winnicki said.

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MERRILL - Claire and Grace Schultz shared a home in Merrill all throughout their childhood.

Now the sisters share a lane at the pool, something they didn't always think would happen.

"We were both a bit skeptical about joining," Grace Schultz said. "We weren't sure how that would play out with club going on at the same time."

The Schultz sisters will race in two individual events and two relays at the state meet in Madison this weekend.

And they enjoyed every minute of getting there.

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