What to watch for: May 11-16
There’s plenty to look forward to during ‘Championship Week.’
Champions will be crowned at three conference track meets, two heated baseball races should be sorted out and some of the area’s best softball teams will converge in Gilman on Saturday.
Here’s the events you should be focusing on.
TRACK AND FIELD
Great Northern Conference track and field championships
Tuesday, May 16, 4 p.m. at Mosinee High School
The Medford Raiders look to challenge Lakeland’s recent dominance in Tuesday’s Great Northern Conference Track and Field Championships at Mosinee.
Medford’s boys and girls both were second in last year’s meet behind the Thunderbirds, who won their second straight girls title and seventh straight boys championship.
In 2016, the Raider girls fell 13 points shy of the T-Birds (171.5-158.5). With an infusion of impressive freshman talent, Medford’s depth is better than it was last year and should give the Raiders a shot. Medford’s event championship contenders could include the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relay teams, Lauren Meyer in the 400-meter dash, Desirae Weissmiller in the shot put and freshman phenoms Katie Phillips in the 800 and/or 1,600, Sami Stolp in the long and triple jump, Morgan Brandner in the high jump and Franny Seidel in the 3,200. Paige Brandner is another freshman who could score vital points in distance races.
Lakeland beat Medford 216.5-163 in the 2016 boys meet. No other team hit 100 points. Lakeland has long dominated distance running, but Medford should score well there behind Trey Ulrich, Derek Rudolph and its 3,200-meter relay team. Junior Victor Rinaldi could be a huge factor in open sprints and the Raiders should do well in the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relays.
Look for senior Jake Sullivan to be relied upon to score in several races. Seniors Osy Ekwueme, Garrett Strebig and Preston Carlson should be key factors in the jumps and pole vault. Junior Hunter Brandner could contend for high jump and 400-meter dash titles.
Marawood North Conference track and field championships
Monday, May 15, 4:30 p.m. at Edgar High School
The Edgar Wildcats will be favored to repeat as boys and girls conference champions - especially competing on their home track - but Rib Lake will have plenty of individuals to watch on Monday.
Rib Lake has greatly increased its depth since last season, so it’s very possible the Redmen will challenge for a top three finishes in the boys and girls team standings.
Last year, the Redmen boys finished fourth while the girls finished fifth at the North conference meet, held in Abbotsford. Rib Lake doesn’t have any returning champions from 2016.
Hunter Swan will be a title contender in the boys shot put, discus throw and 100-meter dash.
Emily Espinoza should battle Edgar newcomer Marissa Ellenbecker in the girls 800-meter run.
Several Rib Lake relays could place well, including the boys 400- and 3,200-meter relays and the girls 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays.
Bryanne Brugger should be in the running for the girls shot put title.
Eastern Cloverbelt Conference track and field championships
Tuesday, May 16, 4:15 p.m. at Gilman High School
Gilman will take its biennial turn as hosts of the East Division track championships - they alternate hosting duties with Colby - on Tuesday.
The Pirates simply don’t have the numbers to be in the mix for the team competition, but several individuals will be contenders.
At last year’s conference meet, senior Brady Emstrom finished second behind teammate Ethan Aldinger - now graduated - in the long jump and was behind only Columbus Catholic’s Farid Torbey - also graduated - in the high jump. Emstrom will be a favorite in both events, plus he should be a finalist in the 100-meter dash.
Emstrom, Aldinger, Torgor Crick and Travis Lato won the East Division 4x400-meter relay title last year, an event Gilman hasn’t entered this season.
Crick, a sophomore, will be an athlete to watch in two distance races - the 800-meter and the 1,600-meter.
On the girls side, junior Camryn Skabroud will have an outside shot in the 1,600-meter run. She finished eighth in that event at last year’s conference meet.
Neillsville/Granton will be looking to defend both the boys and girls team titles.
Rib Lake at Phillips
Thursday, May 11, 4:45 p.m. at Phillips High School
Rib Lake vs Athens
Monday, May 15, 4:45 p.m. at Tannery Creek Parkway, Rib Lake
Prentice is still alive, but the Marawood North title race is effectively down to Rib Lake, Athens and Phillips.
The Redmen will have an opportunity to knock out Phillips tonight and Athens on Monday. In between, tomorrow, Rib Lake hosts Abbotsford.
If the Redmen emerge from this three-game stretch unscathed, they will lock up a second straight conference crown.
Gilman vs Owen-Withee
Friday, May 12, 5 p.m. at Gilman High School
Gilman at Loyal
Monday, May 15, 4:30 p.m. at Loyal High School
Gilman, Greenwood, Loyal and Neillsville are all tied in the loss column for first place in the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference. Assuming the Pirates sweep Colby in a doubleheader tonight and get to 7-3, every conference game will be do-or-die going forward.
Gilman beat Owen-Withee 6-5 on April 21 and beat Loyal 7-4 on April 24.
Saturday, May 13, 10 a.m. in Gilman and Thorp
Both Gilman and Medford will be in action at Saturday’s Slamfest, the annual showcase tournament which brings together some of the best programs from the central and western parts of the state.
Gilman and Medford will face off at 4 p.m. in Gilman. The Pirates play Shell Lake at 2 p.m. while the Raiders play Glenwood City at 10 a.m. and Stratford at 2 p.m.