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Hodags win swim sectional in Wisconsin Rapids Submitted: 11/09/2019
Story By Mazie Vincent

Hodags win swim sectional in Wisconsin Rapids
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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 IN OTHER NEWS

MILWAUKEE -  Milwaukee's former police chief, who was demoted to captain in part for using tear gas against protesters demonstrating over George Floyd's death, has chosen to retire instead of staying with the department. 

The city's Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously last week to demote Chief Alfonso Morales.

 Commissioners criticized how Morales handled multiple incidents involving Black people, including the arrest of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown. 

Speaking Wednesday on WTMJ-AM, Morales said he's retiring because if he returned as a captain it would be at a reduced salary and would negatively impact his pension payments. 

Morales also defended his record as chief. 

His attorney says he and Morales are exploring a range of legal action, including filing a claim for damages.

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Hodag Lanes Closing Submitted: 08/14/2020

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RHINELANDER - After over 50 years of staying open, Hodag Lanes in Rhinelander has officially closed its doors.

"I mean COVID has hit the bowling business really, really hard no matter where your bowling center is," said Sharon Cline, bowling manager at Hodag Lanes.

And with the construction on Stevens Street, the bowling alley was in a tough situation.

"The construction was also a big play for us because with all the construction out here it was tough for anybody to get through," Cline said.

A lot of memories were created in the bowling alley for various citizens in the city.

"I probably started bowling in the early '80s on the Wednesday night women's league," said Sherri Schilleman, Rhinelander resident. "We had the 9 o'clock slot I believe back then."

For her and many families in Rhinelander, bowling was very popular.

"Bowling is actually a big sport in Rhinelander," said Schilleman. "And I think in the last couple of years bowling was actually starting to make another comeback. So it's sad because people are gonna have to find something else to do."

But Cline is hoping that this won't be the end for Hodag Lanes.

"It is costly to have a bowling center but we're just hoping again that we can get up and running again," said Cline. 

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RHINELANDER - A lot of businesses have suffered because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rarely do we hear about a business that benefited from more people staying home.

But Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander actually saw an outstanding season.

Sandy Lang of Hanson's Garden Village said the rush for vegetable seeds started soon after the rush for T.P.

"It was like the floodgates opened. And it's just now slowing down and this is almost the middle of august. That's unprecedented," said Lang.

And it's more than just vegetables. Perennials, annuals, and biennials have all sold well, even after a strange start.

"We didn't think we were going to be able to have the public on property this year," Lang said.

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MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday that he expects President Donald Trump and his entourage to wear masks indoors and social distance when Trump visits Oshkosh for a rally next week.

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- The Rhinelander school district announced today a blended reopening plan for the 2020-21 academic year. The blended option will include high school and middle school students attending in-person classes twice a week, with the remainder of the week being online. Meanwhile, K-5th will have a four day school week, with Wednesdays off for a school-wide cleaning. Despite the district's decision to offer partly online classes, not all parents are ready for their students to return back to the school hallways.

"We have to put health in front of money. we have to put health in front of other important things to make sure everybody is okay to continue to enjoy the things we like so much. and if this is just one way we can keep her safe and the family safe,..again we just decided as a family that's the best route for us," Rhinelander parent, Kate Bauman said.

For parents wanting an alternative option, they can sign up for the districts online option by tomorrow night, August 9th, 2020. 

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