HS track: Gillett freshmen shine on big stage

Gillett’s Sylvia Hansen competes in the 1,600 run on Saturday at the state meet. (Times Herald photo by Morgan Rode)

Competing in the state track meet can be an overwhelming experience for first-time state qualifiers.

Gillett freshman Sylvia Hansen was among the individuals making her first state appearance at the 2018 WIAA Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium in La Crosse on June 1-2. Instead of succumbing to the pressures and big moments of the meet, Hansen made her first state experience a memorable one, picking up a pair of top-five finishes.

Hansen took part in the 3,200-meter run on Friday, taking fifth with a time of 11 minutes, 34.26 seconds, a new school record. She followed that up with a second-place finish in the 1,600 on Saturday, earning a time of 5 minutes, 15.04 seconds, less than a second behind first-place finisher Marissa Ellenbecker of Edgar.

Getting to the state meet was a huge accomplishment for Hansen, so to perform so well in both of her events was a dream come true for the freshman.


High school post-season highlights


STAA/Lena 13, Niagara 5

The second-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas/Lena softball team overpowered third-seeded Niagara to claim the WIAA Division 5 regional title game over Niagara on May 25.

The co-op will take on fourth-seeded Wausaukee, which upset top-seeded Florence, in a sectional semifinal on May 29.

West De Pere 2, Oconto Falls 1

The Oconto Falls softball team came up just short of an upset win over West De Pere in a Division 2 regional semifinal on May 23.

Second-seeded West De Pere scored twice in the third inning to grab the lead. Seventh-seeded Oconto Falls cut the deficit in half with a run in the fourth, but could not push across another run the rest of the game.


How area athletes advanced to state meet

Suring’s Mitch Stegeman and Gillett’s Sylvia Hansen each qualified for the state track meet in two events while competing in the Division 3 Marathon Sectional on May 24.

Stegeman won the pole vault and finished fourth in the 300-meter hurdles to qualify for state. Hansen took second in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Gillett’s Bo Krueger (discus) and Derek Hanson (1,600) each placed fourth to earn spots at state. Aubrey DeBauch won the 300 hurdles to earn her spot at state.

Havemeier qualifies for state

Oconto Falls’ Ericka Havemeier earned a second-place finish in the 200 to qualify for the state meet while competing at the Division 2 Freedom Sectional on May 24.

No other Panthers’ athletes qualified for the state meet.

Suring boys first, Gillett girls third at regional


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.


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