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Merrill girls swimming attacks season with a new approachSubmitted: 08/25/2019
MERRILL - The girls swimming season gets started this week.

Most teams are aiming for state, and Merrill's no different.

The Jays qualified in seven events last season but will have to take a different approach to do it again.

Merrill starts the year with only 13 swimmers.

Many of the athletes are branching out and competing in new events.

Head coach Kristie Winter says her coaching philosophy will help keep swimmers in every event.

"I have a motto that you don't get to specialize in high school or middle school so every kids have to swim everything. So there is no worry, everyone is diverse, I can put them wherever I need them," Winter said.

Half of the Bluejay swimmers are upperclassmen.

They created the motto "make waves and turn heads."

This comes from the time they won their first-ever sectional final last fall.

"We are not a team that would drop everything to win, we are a team that wants to win but have fun while doing it so we want a healthy balance of both," said senior swimmer Trinity Kanitz.

One addition to the Bluejay team this year are brand new starting blocks.

The Merrill Swim Club and the school district raised the money to add eight new blocks and two more swimming lanes.

The Bluejays host Medford for its first dual meet on Tuesday.








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MERRILL - Headed to the courts, Merrill volleyball hosted its annual quad scrimmage Saturday morning. 

Rhinelander, Antigo and Rib Lake made the trip to get in some pre-season competitive matches.

The Bluejays are coming off a 33-11 season.

Mosinee ending their 2018 campaign in a nail-biting regional final.

But Merrill's new squad has transformed that loss into a game plan eyeing a conference title.

Scrimmages like this one will help achieve that goal before starting the regular season next week.

"It's a really good way to mix it up because we will be playing all sorts of different level teams throughout the season," said senior captain Ellie Hartson. "It's a good a way to keep our competitiveness up and really bring energy to the court. We are bringing everything this year and why not us, anybody can do it so why not be the underdogs and go all the way."

The Bluejays will face its season ending foe, Mosinee on the road on Tuesday.

Merrill will kick-off its conference play on September 12th against D.C. Everest.


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NORTHLAND PINES - Lochlan Siegmeier is used to lining up beside the Northland Pines soccer team; not across from them.

"Everyone gets out on the field and you just start right where you left off," Siegmeier said.

Siegmeier and other former Eagles traded their jerseys for pinnies to play in the annual Northland Pines alumni soccer match.

"Everyone knows everyone," Siegmeier said. "It's just a really fun event. It starts the season off well for these guys."

Every year, head coach Mark Pinski pits his current team against a squad of Pines graduates, giving them a chance to come back to the field where they had some of their best memories.

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RHINELANDER - The sunny weather made Saturday perfect for a run, swim or bike ride.

But why choose one when a single event offers all three?

That's exactly the mindset behind the Hodag Mini-Triathlon at Holiday Acres.

Health in Motion and other Rhinelander businesses put on the triathlon to raise money for youth leadership charities.

Event organizer Tim Thorsen wanted to make sure the race was challenging, but also accessible to people doing it for the first time.

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Friday Night Blitz: 8/23/19Submitted: 08/23/2019

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NORTHWOODS - BERLIN 49 MOSINEE 14
TRI-COUNTY 6 THREE LAKES/PHELPS 42
WAUSAU EAST 23 MERRILL 6
RHINELANDER 21 PRESCOTT 0
RICE LAKE 0 MEDFORD 14
LAKELAND UNION 35 CUDAHY 33
ANTIGO 6 AMHERST 46
NORTHLAND PINES 0 WITTENBERG-BIRNAMWOOD 34
ELCHO/WHITE LAKE 18 MARION/TIGERTON 32
ATHENS 47 RIB LAKE/PRENTICE 6
HORTONVILLE 34 WAUSAU WEST 17
DC EVEREST 14 APPLETON EAST 21

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THREE LAKES - Many teams in the Northwoods made the transition to eight-man football for the upcoming season.

Commonly two offensive tackles and a skill position player are removed on offense and one defensive back, one linebacker and one defensive lineman are removed on defense.

One of the biggest changes is that only five players have to be on the line of scrimmage at the snap instead of eight making any player pass eligible

Three Lakes is one of those teams making the transition. 

The Bluejays have a little advantage because this isn't the first time the jays have transitioned into eight man.

Three Lakes played a few seasons of eight man earlier in the decade before going back to eleven man for traveling purposes.

Head coach Tyler Maney say the transition from a wing-t to a faster paced offense has been interesting.

He loves the power run but including the pass game has been a necessity for the new offense.

He added that the formations might look different but the goals haven't changed.

"I would love to us win a playoff game. So I think our goals as far as that and maybe get a kid an all-region recognition or something like that. But our goals as team are just to play one game at a time, take it one step at a time and try to get back to the playoffs for two years in a row which hasn't happened here in a long long time," Maney said.

This season Three Lakes will not co-op with Phelps. 

There are only three seniors on the team but the players believe the drive is as high as ever. 

"We are easily adaptable, our team. It's always been that way. We just forget everything once you step on the field and once you leave the field you leave it all there and just do your best. That's all you can do," said senior linebacker Gus Holzbauer.

Three Lakes kicks of its season against Tri-County Friday at 7.


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ANTIGO - Antigo football's Facebook cover photo shows the team holding up their five goals for the 2019 season.

"We had them talk it over and make sure as a team they figured out what they want to accomplish," head coach Tom Schofield said.

The first of those goals is simple: take back the Great Northern Conference.

"I guess we always want to prove ourselves and last year wasn't a good run," senior fullback Noah Musolff said.

Antigo's particularly focused on Rhinelander, and winning the annual Bell Game for the 13th straight time is priority number two.

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WAUSAU - Nail a trick and a skater is safe for a round.

If a skater misses a trick, they're one step closer to elimination

"It's pretty rough," skater Anthony Olsen said. "Everyone is really good in this city here."

That's life at the skateboarding event in the Badger State Games.

"Some of these tricks, some of these people can never master," Central Board Shop owner Jon Kurth said. "Some of them have been skating for most of their lives."

Although the games sound important, they look and feel like a casual ride at the skate park.

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KENNAN - You don't need snow to sled.

In fact, dryland dog sledding races happen all around Wisconsin.

There's even a national dryland sled team, which includes a human dog duo from Price County.

Niina Baum has been dog sled racing for 19 years.  Her passion for the sport landed her a spot on Team USA for the Dryland World Championship race in Sweden this October.

"I've been planning this for about six years now with that goal in mind and then I got Molly three years ago so then we really started to put that goal into action and now it's happened," Baum said.

Niina and her racy Greyhound/Pointer cross Molly have been training for the championship all summer in her home town of Keenan, Wisconsin.

"I have been running myself a lot, getting myself in really good shape and getting myself as light as possible so she doesn't have much weight to pull," Baum said. "With her we have been doing lots of exercises and running, she even runs on the treadmill."

Niina said the second she got Molly she knew she found the perfect race partner and a best friend.

"We work great together. When we are running the communication is easy, she knows what to do. When I start to lean one way she knows we are going to turn that way," Baum said.

The duo will compete in the one-dog scooter class where Molly will pull Niina on a scooter with large tires where the human kicks constantly usually reaching 20 miles per hour.

"I really want to see how my dog and I can do on the international level. We know we are good over here in the U.S. but there is a lot of really tough competition in Europe," Baum said.

Team USA will be facing 22 other countries at the world championship. Niina said she can't wait to embrace the challenging opportunity.

"I want to do the best I can over there but I still want to have fun and show this just isn't competition, we love doing it," Baum said.

The championship race is in Nybro, Sweden on October 23-27.


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MINOCQUA - The dragon boat festival returned to Minocqua with a new sense of purpose: to try and complete a project started at last year's races.

The Howard Young Foundation uses the dragon boat festival to raise money for a new tick-borne illness center.

Minocqua's dragon boat races serve as one of the biggest fundraisers for Howard Young.

The 21 teams who signed up this year raised more than $10,000 in registration fees alone.

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TOMAHAWK - Friday night football will officially be underway a week from today.

Many teams have spent the off-season in the weight room and sharpening their play books.

But a few had to transition into new leadership, including Tomahawk.

"Feeling good, optimistic, looking new, new coach and new ideas," said senior quarterback Cody Jablonski.

The Hatchet football team welcomed a new head coach in the off-season.But Sam Hernandez wasn't interested in re-branding the program. 

"I view this as building on the traditions that coach Larson and his staff, a lot of which are still with us and building on that and just adding my own flare to it," Hernandez said. 

Hernandez is a strong believer in hard smash mouth football, which is a common run attack in the competitive Marawood conference. Senior quarterback Cody Jablonski says he's confident in those schemes.

"Our running backs, myself our receivers and our line, we are really picking up on it. There's a lot more motion moving back and forth and a lot more thinking," Jablonski said. 

Numbers aren't as high as Hernandez wants them to be but has put all his faith in his six seniors to help 
lead the team.

"You can tell that they are hungry they want to build on success. Last year they were right outside the edge of the playoffs and I think there's that hunger in their eyes," Hernandez said.

Hernandez is challenging his players to prove it, first.

"It's almost like proving myself and what I can do on the field and off the field and not proving it to everyone else by myself," said senior running back Cody Scholz. 

"Give it all, give everything, 100% and make sure all the guys are giving 110%. I will give them all I got and see if they give it all back to me," Jablonski said.

The players hope proving what matters most will turn into a playoff appearance.

"Nothing is given and if we can buy into that day in and day out we are going to have a good football season," Hernandez said.

This will be the last season Tomahawk will play in the Marawood conference. The Hatchets will make their way to Greenwood for their first game next Friday. 

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