Area track & field athletes ready for state

Ericka Havemeier of Oconto Falls, left, will compete in the 200-meter dash at the state meet for a second consecutive year. (Times Herald file photo)

The WIAA State Track and Field Championships brings together Wisconsin’s top athletes who all have their own unique stories.

Some of the athletes are seniors who have appeared at state during each year of high school. Other seniors qualified for their first state trips. The meet will also feature plenty of freshman and sophomores who are hoping their state appearance is the first of many more to come.

When the 2018 championships take place this upcoming Friday and Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in La Crosse, a total of six local athletes will be competing.

Of the group of state qualifiers, only Suring’s Mitch Stegeman and Oconto Falls’ Ericka Havemeier have made the trip to state before. Gillett’s Sylvia Hansen, Aubrey DeBauch, Derek Hanson and Bo Krueger will be experiencing their first state experiences.

Regardless of what event or how much experience an athlete has, each competitor is ready for the state meet.


McKenna Larsen caps strong college career

McKenna Larsen was a standout on the mound for Winona State. (Photo courtesy Winona State Athletics)

Over his 17 years as head coach of the Winona State University softball program, Greg Jones has worked with some great players.

When he thinks of the legacy McKenna Larsen leaves after a phenomenal four-year run, Jones has high praise.

“If there’s a Mount Rushmore of Winona State softball, she’s on it,” Jones said. “So, if there are four faces and names that go on that, she would be one of the four. I would have a really tough discussion on who the other three are, but she’s got to be one of them. What she did for us as a pitcher, what she did for us as a hitter, what she did for us as a leader, she’s truly one of the top five kids to ever play in this program.”


Softball Gillett/Suring rallies for conference win

Sydney Young was settling into a groove in the circle.

The sophomore pitcher for the Gillett/Suring softball team was throwing well. But it was her timely hitting that made all the difference.

Young broke a tie game with a two-run triple in the fifth inning as Gillett/Suring downed Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas Academy 7-4 on May 17 in Gillett.

“This is a big win,” Young said. “This is the first home game that we’ve won, and getting it right before playoffs is pretty great.”

After giving up three hits in the opening inning, Young settled in and gave up just two hits the rest of the way. She retired the final 10 batters she faced.

Gillett/Suring coach Mike Umentum knows it generally takes Young about 30 pitches to get in a groove.

“It takes her a little while to warm up. Then she starts finding her spots,” Umentum said.

Young pitched confidently, especially after getting the lead.


Troubled turkey hunt photographer’s dream

Ever wonder what wild turkeys do during midday? These two Waupaca County hens spent some time Thursday morning grooming on a log while outdoors columnist Ross Bielema waited for the toms to show up. (Photo by Ross Bielema)

Hunting doesn’t always end with a kill, but it’s nice to bag something occasionally.

Maybe I should call myself a wildlife photographer, and not a hunter, because I almost always come home with some wildlife photos when I return from a hunt.

I just enjoyed one of the most exciting turkey hunts of my life, but mostly because of the diversity of wildlife I saw and photographed.

Did I mention missing a jake — twice? I’m glad he had such a small beard, because I don’t feel so bad about missing. And the only reason I shot was because I wanted a buddy to have a nice, tender bird for his sous-vide water-bath cooker. Well, that and I haven’t shot a bird in umpteen years.


Oconto Falls boys golf team places second at own invite

The Oconto Falls boys golf team finished second in the 50th annual Stu Anderson Invitational, with a team consisting of, from left, Chase Pecha, Ryan Morris, Clayton Rathsack, Odin Halvorsen and Camden Jackson. (Contributed photo)

The Oconto Falls boys golf team finished second while competing in the 50th annual Stu Anderson Invitational at River Island Golf Course on May 10.

Oconto Falls finished with a team score of 372, trailing only Marinette (334).

Clayton Rathsack shot an 18-hole round of 86 to lead the Panthers. Ryan Morris shot a 92, Odin Halvorsen fired a 96 and Chase Pecha recorded a round of 98 for Oconto Falls. Camden Jackson (124) rounded out the team.

Team standings: 1. Marinette 334; 2. Oconto Falls 372; 3. De Pere 378; 4. Seymour 380; 5. Bay Port 384; 6. Shawano 386; 7. Clintonville 417; 8. Ashwaubenon 423; 9. Pulaski 427; 10. Green Bay East 449.


Softball: Luxemburg-Casco sweeps Oconto Falls

With the end of the regular season approaching quickly, every game becomes critical.

Oconto Falls softball coach Cory Albrecht knew scoring a pair of wins in a doubleheader vs. Luxemburg-Casco would go a long way in getting a favorable seed come playoff time.

However, Oconto Falls struggled to get a key hit while combining to score just one run as Luxemburg-Casco earned a sweep 5-0, 3-1 in North Eastern Conference action on a cold Friday afternoon in Oconto Falls.

“This was the week we wanted to get back on a roll,” said Albrecht after the Game 1 loss. “We wanted to get things going right before regionals, and it was one that got away from us a little bit.”

Oconto Falls (7-11, 7-8 conference) tallied six hits in the doubleheader opener and stranded six runners on base.

“The first few batters, we had line drives right at them,” Albrecht said. “We were hitting the ball and seeing the ball well, making good contact.”


Oconto Falls girls, Suring boys first at Oconto County Meet

Paced by nine individual first-place finishes and victories in all four relays, the Oconto Falls girls track and field team won the Oconto County Track and Field Meet in Oconto Falls on Monday, May 7.

Oconto Falls finished with 170 points, followed by Suring (70), Gillett (61), Lena/St. Thomas Academy (38) and Oconto (22).

“I think the girls did really good tonight, I’m proud of how they did,” Oconto Falls girls track and field coach Marissa DeMoulin said. “I think everybody tried hard. Sometimes it’s hard to do your best when you’re in an event where there may not be a competition for you. But I’m proud of the way they all did.”

The Panthers had a standout performance from Ericka Havemeier. The sophomore won the 100- (12.96) and 200-meter dashes (27.73) and was a member of the first-place 4x200 relay (1:53.88), along with Kennedy Kratz, Elizabeth Ausloos and Autumn Magnin.


OFHS hires new head football coach

Nick Bohl is excited for his first varsity head coaching job, but the new Oconto Falls football coach will have his work cut out for himself.

The Panthers are coming off an 0-9 season, have dropped their last 12 games in a row and sport a 3-51 record in the last six seasons.

Bohl — who replaces Barry Derickson who spent two seasons at Oconto Falls before leaving for an assistant coaching job at Eastern Kentucky University — is up for the challenge of turning around the program.

“It’s a big responsibility,” Bohl said. “The school and community are entrusting me to develop these kids not only on the field but off the field as well. Football’s just more than a game; there’s a lot of life lessons from the game of football.”


Sefcik’s sharp mound skills not enough

Mason Sefcik was sharp on the mound, but the senior pitcher for Oconto Falls couldn’t do it alone.

Sefcik gave up just four hits in six innings of work against Waupaca, but the Panthers could only scratch out two hits in a 3-1 loss at home Monday afternoon.

“Both teams didn’t hit the best; it came down to small ball, and we finally executed that,” Waupaca coach Rocky Mondello said.

Oconto Falls coach Charlie Rochon knows it was tough for his team to waste a great outing from his ace pitcher. Sefcik was certainly on his game, striking out four while surrendering just one earned run.

“He mixes stuff up. He’s in, out, up, down. He mixes in a breaking ball,” Rochon said. “He does a lot of little things well.”

The defeat didn’t come without plenty of opportunities for Oconto Falls’ offense. The Panthers left six runners on base, three in scoring position.


Former OFHS wrestlers succeed in college careers

University of Wyoming wrestler Dewey Krueger, right, helps his team to a 28-9 victory over CSU Bakersfield in a dual this season. Krueger, an Oconto Falls graduate, just wrapped up his redshirt sophomore season at the Division 1 college. (Contributed photo)

Dewey Krueger and Nate Trepanier were exceptional high school wrestlers.

The duo combined for a 324-31 record, capturing three state titles and two runners-up finishes during their four-year careers at Oconto Falls High School.

Both guys have continued on with wrestling at the next level and are doing well. In March, Krueger wrapped up his redshirt sophomore season in Division I at the University of Wyoming by going 4-2. Trepanier closed out his true freshman campaign at Division II Lindenwood University with a 22-17 record and a trip to nationals.

Krueger proving himself at Wyoming

Krueger has started making a name for himself on the Wyoming campus as a versatile wrestler.

Krueger, who usually competes at 157 pounds, scored four victories on the season — all four coming at different weight classes.

This year was a learning experience for Krueger competing for the top-20 nationally-ranked Cowboys program.


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