State arm wrestling tournament celebrates anniversarySubmitted: 02/16/2019

STEVENS POINT - Blink and you just might miss a whole match.

Wisconsin's state arm wrestling tournament defies almost everything you know about the sport.

"It's not the regular bar atmosphere, to arm wrestle," event organizer Steve Southworth said. "This is an organized sport."

The first thing you need to know is that arm wrestling isn't just for kids, although that tends to be how most of them get their start, including champion arm wrestler Malique Garcia.

"I started out in grade school," Garcia said. "I was arm wrestling at lunchtime and arm wrestling just about any time I could. I was always drawn to it."

The next thing you need to know? It's not just about brute strength. 

Arm wrestling is a full body sport. It is not isolated to one muscle group.

Garcia's team of Wisconsin arm wrestlers needed all their muscle groups when standing across the peg table from a team of Illinois strongmen.

After a match, wrestlers are quick to shake hands a little less aggressively.

"You get up there with any guy on the table and you might be enemies at the time but as soon as you get off the table, you guys are family," Garcia said.

The last thing you need to know about arm wrestling?

The friendships last much longer than the matches do.

"I can go to Georgia and call a guy and see if he wants to practice that day," Southworth said. "The arm wrestling community throughout the whole United States is just awesome."

Almost 100 arm wrestlers of all different ages signed up for the state championship.

The tournament celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

Story By: Andrew Goldstein

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Friday Night Blitz 2.15.19Submitted: 02/15/2019

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NORTHWOODS - Medford-59 Pines-46
Crandon-45 Tomahawk-47
Mosinee-66 Lakeland-57
Antigo 60 Rhinelander 74
Laona/Wabeno-43 Phelps-64
Newman Catholic-42 Assumption-53
Phillips-43 Rib Lake-64
Marathon-52 Stratford-65
Athens-35 Chequamegon-43
WI Rapids-62 Wausau East-66
SPASH-53 Wausau West-43

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Wednesday Night Sports ReportSubmitted: 02/13/2019

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EAGLE RIVER - Northland Pines hockey measures itself by two standards: the opponents on the ice and the pictures on the walls.

"There's a lot of weight in each game you play here in Eagle River," Pines head coach Dave Cox said.

Cox knows what it's like to carry that weight as part of the 1984 Pines state championship team.

"We still talk about it and have fond memories," Cox said. "There's 10 or 12 of us that still live around town here so we still see each other."

Now the sons of those state champions hope to live up to their fathers' accomplishments.

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EAGLE RIVER - Playing hockey on a lake at the USA Pond Hockey Championships might be different for some, but Attila Barabas has played at a much higher level than this.

"The hockey was pretty intense," Barabas said.

Barabas played professional hockey in Romania when it was occupied by the Soviet Union and left it all behind for a chance at a better life.

"First of all, I escaped the communism, which was not pretty," Barabas said. "I always wanted to come to the United States, and I ended up here."

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CRANDON - Wrestlers from six different schools hit the mat in Crandon Saturday with a trip to sectionals on the line in each match.

The Cardinals won the meet over conference rival Three Lakes. Crandon took first place in four of 14 weight classes. It's the seventh year in a row Crandon took home the team championship, and they sure had a good time doing it.

"Before this, we all wanted to work on staying focused before our matches and having fun," Crandon wrestler Breed Shepard said. "If you're not having fun, you're not wrestling [well.]"

Three Lakes didn't go home empty-handed though.

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STEVENS POINT - Boys swimming dove into the postseason Saturday.  

The Hodags were an overwhelming favorite to win sectionals and that's exactly what happened.

Rhinelander won seven of 12 events.

The Hodags qualified for state in two relays and in five individual events. 

Senior Nolan Francis easily took the gold in the 100-yard butterfly and back stroke..

He says the team's success comes from their strong connection. 

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Friday Night Blitz: 2/8/19Submitted: 02/08/2019

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Newman Catholic: 58 Rib Lake: 85
Tomahawk: 37 Mosinee: 70
Bowler 42: Wisconsin Valley Lutheran: 59
Iola-Scandinavia: 62 Bonduel: 59
Phelps: 65 Crandon: 63
Crivitz: 68 Niagara: 34
DC Everest: 82 Wisconsin Rapids: 59
Florence: 87 Wausaukee: 75
Medford: 52 Lakeland: 47
Stratford: 103 Chequamegon: 60
Wausau East: 57 Stevens Point: 63
Wausau West: 42 Marshfield: 60
Tigerton: 55 Marion: 65

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TOMAHAWK - The Great Northern Conference wrapped up its regular hockey season this weekend in Antigo.

That's when the eight teams also named the all-conference players as well as coach and player of the year.

Tomahawk senior Max Bembinster was chosen as GNC player of the year.

The defenseman has played in 19 games this season while scoring 10 goals and 22 assists.

Bembinster also played a few games with the Wausau Riverwolves before his senior season.

He says the award proves just how hard his entire team worked this year.

"I was very humbled by that but I would like to thank my teammates because without them, I couldn't do it by myself," Bembinster said. "So those guys being supportive really helped me out and really helped me excel as a player."

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THREE LAKES - In an old classroom covered in wrestling mats, you can find 10 Blue Jays all working towards the same goal.

"Even though we are a small group, we all have the heart," said Three Lakes junior Canto Ginet. "If we come to practice and put 100 percent, we will get where we want to go."

Three Lakes just won its first Northern Lakes Conference championship since 2012.

"It's worth, it's all worth it," said Three Lakes junior Trystan Sanderfoot.

That's quite a big jump compared to last season.

The Bluejays only won two conference meets with five wrestlers.

"Biggest difference is we have 10 kids vs. 5. The kids are animals just working hard and having fun, that's the important part," said Three Lakes wrestling head coach Seth Senter.

Now the team is hoping to send as many wrestlers as they can to sectionals.

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