Scholarship provides new cleats for Hodag runnersSubmitted: 04/20/2019
RHINELANDER - Rhinelander's track and field team values leadership above all else.

For two Hodag runners, those leadership qualities paid off with new track shoes, of all things.

The scholarship was established in the name of Ira Rebella, a track and field referee from Merrill who passed away in November.

The scholarship had enough money for two Rhinelander kids to buy running spikes.

Hodag head coach Aaron Kraemer said Rebella was a decent man who had a profound influence on his program.

"[He was] somebody that was a staple of this area for our track meets," Rebella said. "We always saw him here. A very kind gentleman, a leader in his field, somebody that made me as a first year coach five years ago feel at home during a track meet."

Adam Bloom and Morgan Johnson won the scholarship.

In order to qualify, applicants had to write essays about how they've displayed leadership.

Bloom says the contest gave him a clearer idea of what it means to be a leader.

"You need to be able to stand up," Bloom said. "You need to be able to show what people have to do in a calm and inspiring manner. Just because you're the leader doesn't mean you need to have lack of respect for who you're leading."

Rhinelander's next track and field meet comes on Tuesday at Lakeland Union High School against five other programs, including GNC stalwarts like Tomahawk, Northland Pines and Lakeland Union.

Story By: Andrew Goldstein

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NORTHWOODS - The Great Northern Conference will no longer exist for high school girls hockey.

The W-I-A-A approved the merger between Rhinelander, Lakeland, Antigo, Tomahawk and Three Lakes.

The team will keep the name Northern Edge which formerly included just Rhinelander and Antigo.

Rhinelander will be the host town but practices will be in all four towns.

Tom Roeser will remain the head coach. 

He says the merger has been a long time coming and is excited for roster numbers to be strong again.

"I enjoy the completion in practices. The girls will compete for spots and I think this will make them step up and play at a different level," Roeser said.

Northern Edge will have to travel farther to play now.

Roeser hopes they can find some J-V games and stay overnight to play games on both Fridays and Saturdays.

Northland Pines considered joining the Edge but will try and increase their numbers next season. 

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PHILLIPS - Baseball season will finally start in the Northwoods with all the snow melted off the fields.

But in order to play baseball at any level, teams need money.

The youth softball and baseball teams in Phillips want peoples' old shoes to raise money for renovations to their baseball complex. 

They're hoping to collect 100 bags of shoes.

Those shoes go to a company called Funds2Orgs in Florida, which pays 40 cents per pound.

If they get to their goal, it will raise roughly $1,000.

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MINOCQUA - The Lakeland Union baseball team traveled south for most of its games.

Because of that, it has managed to avoid a lot of the cancellations that have hit the rest of the Northwoods.

The T-Birds have played seven games, which is more than most of the other area schools.

All of those games have been played over an hour and a half away from Minocqua.

They were all the way down in Mauston Thursday for a doubleheader with Northland Pines.

Coping with that travel has been a fact of life for teams in the Northwoods.

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PHILLIPS - The softball season started months ago, but most teams can count the number of times they have played outside on one hand.

"It's just kind of becoming old hat," said Lakeland head softball coach Jason Morris.

Now teams are traveling at least two hours to play a conference game.

"We are pretty used to it," said Northland Pines head softball coach Jacob Schueller. "You know we travel to Medford, Mosinee and Antigo is just as far so that's not a huge deal, an hour is a short trip for us."

Northland Pines and Lakeland played a conference game in Phillips Thursday afternoon.

The Loggers have actually hosted a number of games over the past few weeks.

"A lot of people in our community really pitch in and help," said Phillips head softball coach Blake Edwards. "The city plowed early and then the parents pitched in, a lot of community members, the staff and our athletic director are always helping. We've had some success in past years and it's amazing how many people come and help when that happens."

The biggest concerns now are the rain and cold temperatures. 

"The girls will adapt, they are young and they understand that this what you have to do to play ball in the Northwoods," Morris said.

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Harlem Wizards come to TomahawkSubmitted: 04/17/2019

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TOMAHAWK - Kids in Tomahawk might not suddenly know how to spin a basketball on one finger or slam an alley oop.

But they learned some pretty valuable life skills from a bunch of guys who can.

"Never ever give up, you got to keep pushing man. You are going to fail; you are going to fall. You have to get back up, it's not about how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up," said longtime Wizard, Swoop.

That is just one of the messages the Harlem Wizards shared with the kids in Tomahawk on Wednesday.

Kinship of Tomahawk invited the Wizards to raise money and show the kids something special.

"Our kids don't get to see entertainment like this," said Kinship of Tomahawk Executive Director Patti Hilgendorf.

They even taught them a few lessons before the show even started.
"Education is important, listening is important, find positive role models and have fun," Hilgendorf said. "We just want the kids to have a chance to be kids."

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EAGLE RIVER - Northland Pines senior Lochlan Siegmeier competes in so many events that he sometimes has trouble picking a favorite.

"I like the [200-meter sprint] because it gives me enough time to catch up if I'm behind, if I have a bad start," Siegmeier said.

Siegmeier is a runner, hurdler and jumper. He went to state last year in the 300-meter hurdles and might get to state in a lot more than that this year.

"He really does have the skills," Northland Pines track coach Josh Rhode said. "He's been pole-vaulting. He's got the hurdles down. He can high jump, long jump and sprint obviously."

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THREE LAKES - Three Lakes lost more than a part of history when the Oneida Village Inn burned down over a month ago.

It also lost the home of the town's 45th annual women's pool tournament.

That fire destroyed most of the organizing materials for the tournament, including rosters, brackets and contact information.

Organizers Jackie Walker and Connie Lang had to piece the tournament back together by sending out Facebook messages to everyone who already signed up.

Despite that, two dozen teams played, which is nearly everybody that signed up the first time.

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ANTIGO - The 2019 Packer Tailgate tour made its final stop in Antigo Saturday

Six former players and C-E-O Mark Murphy helped raise money to benefit the Habitat for Humanity of Langlade County.

"We've been getting in some laughs, shared some hugs and shed some tears," said former Packers linebacker Nick Barnett.

Barnett says it was one of the best weeks of his life.

"I would do this every single year if I was able to," Barnett said.

From meetings fans, to signing autographs and turning on the charm for the 2019 Green Bay Packers tailgate tour.

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RHINELANDER - Track and field teams don't usually go all-out in practice; instead, it's more like a steady 70 or 80 percent effort.

The Rhinelander Hodags subscribe to a different theory: either give it your all or nothing at all.

"The way I teach it is this: we're going to run and we're going to sprint at full speed every day in practice," head coach Aaron Kraemer said. "We don't do sub-max."

Most teams will have runners conserve their energy in training sessions. Head coach Aaron Kraemer doesn't see the point.

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TOMAHAWK - At this time last year, the Tomahawk softball team hadn't played a single game.

Well they've hit the diamond three times this year but without the five seniors from last season's state bound team.

Pitching has always been Tomahawk's strong suit - but this year they have a different approach.

"A different year, a different team but the goals stay the same," said Tomahawk head softball coach John Larson.

Tomahawk softball broke a 35-year state drought last season But this year they want to bring home a golden ball. 

"There's definitely things that we can focus on this year to get us to that point again, but come out on top," said senior catcher Katy Volz.

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