Count me in as a believer of the Brewers

The Brewers baseball team has been based in Milwaukee since 1970. Over its existence, the team has made the postseason just four times, 1981, 1982, 2008 and 2011.

While Brewers’ fans might not be familiar with reaching the postseason, they are acquainted with the fact that the team has a knack for falling apart in the second half of seasons in recent years. Take last year for the most recent example, when the team saw its 5½-game lead at the All-Star break slip away.

Even though last year’s team was supposed to be a rebuilding one, fans were still disappointed to see Milwaukee miss the playoffs, as any fan base should be.

After just missing out on the postseason, Brewers general manager David Stearns upped the ante with a series of offseason moves that clearly stated the team was no longer looking to rebuild. Through 68 games this year, Milwaukee owns a 41-27 record, the best record in the National League.


The end of a dynasty

Leader file photo Maddy Pietz reacts after crossing the finish line in first for the record-breaking 4x400 relay team at the 2018 WIAA State Track & Field Championships.

The Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School girls track and field team earned its second straight Division 2 title at the 2018 WIAA State Track & Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium in La Crosse on June 2. Wittenberg-Birnamwood scored 50 points, 14 more than second-place Xavier.

While the championship completed a season goal, it also signaled the end of the high school careers for a talented groups of seniors. The 2018 state meet was the final high school track experience for Maddy Pietz, Paige Norrbom, Emily Norrbom, Kylie Linke and Alyssa Meverden.

The Chargers’ senior class improved every year. During the group’s freshman season, the team took sixth at state after scoring 24 points. Witt-Birn took sixth again the following year, but their point total increased to 26. As juniors, the Chargers’ team score ballooned to 40 points and a state title.


Great debate on greatness can be grating

An older guy at a kid’s birthday party was happy to learn that he was talking to a sportswriter, because he had plenty to share.

“If Cleveland would have beaten Golden State,” the senior gent began, “then LeBron James’ postseason would have been the greatest individual achievement in any team sport, ever.”

James would have been hailed for carrying the Cavaliers past the much deeper Golden State Warriors, it was agreed, as he had carried his team past Indiana, Toronto and Boston in the Eastern Conference series.

Against a better team, though, it wasn’t good enough, and a simple discussion about who was basketball’s greatest player soon became an exercise in the futility of comparing sports eras.

“LeBron got about as much support as Harvey Haddix,” the man said, turning seamlessly from 21st century basketball to 20th century baseball.


North Eastern all-conference spring teams announced

Leader file photo Clintonville’s Logan Liesenfelder was named to the second team all-conference after a strong spring season.

Leader file photo Allysin Booth turned in a pair of top-finishes at the North Eastern Conference Meet.

The North Eastern Conference seemed to be the popular destination for tight conference races, with the baseball, softball and girls soccer seasons coming down to the final games played.

Clintonville spring sports teams did not factor much into the races for the conference titles, but the school had plenty of athletes rewarded for stellar play on the diamond, field, course and track.

Here are the Clintonville athletes that were named to North Eastern all-conference teams this spring:


The North Eastern Conference baseball schedule was trimmed to nine games to accommodate the weather. Waupaca won the title with an 8-1 record, holding off Fox Valley Lutheran (7-2) and Denmark and Freedom (6-3 each). FVL’s Colton Schild and Luxemburg-Casco’s Austin Tlachac shared the conference’s player of the year honors.


Erb pitches gem in Bonduel’s win over Clintonville

Leader photo by Morgan Rode Bonduel’s Wyatt Erb fires a pitch during Monday’s 4-0 win over Clintonville. Erb struck out 18 batters during the game.

To say Wyatt Erb and the Bonduel American Legion baseball team got the summer season off to a strong start might be an understatement.

Erb pitched a two-hit shutout, and the Bonduel offense provided a four-run second inning to down Clintonville 4-0 at Jack Reinke Field in Bonduel on Monday night.

Clintonville put runners on second and third with just one out in the top of the first inning before Erb settled in. The lefty struck out the inning’s final two batters, a sign of things to come.

Erb recorded the next 12 outs in the game by strikeouts and finished the contest with 18 strikeouts over seven stellar innings.

“I felt great tonight, I had everything working,” Erb said. “I was just trying to keep pounding the strike zone, hitting spots and trusting my defense. It happened that I was throwing pitches and they were swinging and missing.”


Shawano All-Stars compete in Special Olympics State Finals

Contributed photo The Shawano All-Stars swim and track and field teams competed at the Special Olympics Wisconsin State Finals on Friday and Saturday. Among those competing for Shawano were, back row, left, Sherri Baldwin, Teresa Grunewald, Julie Zeitler, Bill Hahn, Charlie Wenzel, Tammy Wenzel, Tony Turso and Patrick Davis; front row, Loran Albright and Myles Stilwell.

The Shawano All-Stars swim and track and field teams each competed at the Special Olympics Wisconsin State Finals in Stevens Point on Friday and Saturday.

The swim team had two competitors in action. Teresa Grunewald claimed first in the 50-meter freestyle and second in the 50 backstroke. Sherri Baldwin took fifth in the 50 backstroke and eighth in the 50 freestyle.

Shawano sent six athletes into the track and field competition. Loran Albright finished first in the softball throw, second in standing long jump and fourth in the 100 dash. Myles Stilwell took second in the softball throw and standing long jump while finishing sixth in the 100 dash.

Charlie Wenzel earned a second-place finish in javelin and fourth-place finish in the 200 walk. Bill Hahn took third in the 100 walk and fifth in the softball throw.


Swedberg, Yarie, Raddant return to victory lane

Three former winners made triumphant returns to victory lane for the first time in 2018 as Brett Swedberg (Late Model), Marcus Yarie (IMCA Modified) and Kyle Raddant (IMCA Sport Mod) all notched victories.

Travis VanStraten (IMCA Stock Car) scored his second win in a row and third overall win. Brad Nelson (Mighty Four) may be the hottest racer of late as he won his second feature of the year. In the last three nights of racing, Nelson has two wins and a second-place finish to his credit.

Swedberg got back to his winning ways in the Late Model feature. At the start of the race, Swedberg dropped the hammer and ran away from the rest of the field. By the time eighth-place-starting Nick Anvelink got to second on lap 10, Swedberg had built up a full straight-away lead.

Swedberg masterfully handled lapped traffic and was unchallenged in the caution-free race. Anvelink, Joel Bennett, Joe Reuter and Chris Engels took second through fifth in the race.


Central Wisconsin all-conference spring team unveiled

Leader file photo Tigerton’s Conner Harris was a co-player of the year in the CWC-North Division.

Leader file photo Gresham’s Drew Haffner was named the co-player of the year in the CWC-North to follow up his player of the year honor in basketball.

The Central Wisconsin Conference underwent a major realignment prior to the 2017-18 school year, creating seven-team divisions for multiple sports.

Regardless of whether teams stayed in a division with primarily the same teams or moved to a new division against different teams, plenty of talent was on display around the area this spring season.

Here are the local athletes that were recognized with spots on the Central Wisconsin all-conference teams for spring sports:


East Division

The CWC-East Division featured one of the tightest races in the entire state, with the top-four teams finishing within three games of each other.

Bonduel won its final six conference matchups to earn first-place with a 10-2 record. The Bears placed a total of eight athletes on the all-conference teams.


BABA Roundup

East-West Division

Gresham 21

Tilleda 2

Gresham eased past Tilleda in seven innings.

Gresham tallied 17 hits in the contest, with Pete Carroll leading the way with three hits. Brent Berkholz had two hits, including a home run. Josh Freeman picked up the win on the mound.

Joel Brei was dealt the loss for Tilleda, which totaled just three hits at the plate.

Bowler 14

Neopit 12

Bowler outslugged Neopit in a high-scoring clash.

Landon Kroening provided the heroics for Bowler, launching a walk-off homer to cap a 3 for 5 night at the plate. Phil Duffek added two hits while Kroening picked up the win.

Mike Mahl tallied three hits to lead Neopit while Dustin Peters and Mike Pecore chipped in with two hits each. Pecore homered while Alex Peters was dealt the loss.

Clintonville 13

Tigerton 2

Clintonville cruised to a victory over Tigerton, led by a grand slam from Parker Mindel.


Private lands open to hunting, fishing under VPA

Finding a place to hunt, fish and trap is luckily pretty easy in Wisconsin, thanks to our millions of acres of public land in the form of county, state and federal areas.

Sportsmen now have another option: private lands voluntarily open to sportsmen.

The state offers more than 30,000 acres of private land open to hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife watching under the relatively new Voluntary Public Access program. Under VPA, landowners who participate receive $5 to $15 an acre for allowing access to their lands, depending on the type of land (farmland, wetlands, forest).

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is especially interested in at least 40-acre parcels and also land adjacent to existing public lands. Most of the state is eligible to participate, although most northern counties are not. Shawano County is one of the northernmost counties eligible.


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