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When Donna Lucas next goes hiking, she intends to put her newfound knowledge to use. "Now when I walk the boardwalk, I'll be so knowledgeable," she said. "I'll be able to impress everyone with what I know." Lucas was one of several people on an educational hike June 14 on the Brule Bog Boardwalk of the North Country Trail as part of the St. Croix Riverfest. A new segment of the boardwalk, located a few miles northeast of Solon Springs, was dedicated June 7.
If you want to get in shape, a few mosquitoes buzzing in your ear can provide better motivation than a personal trainer. For National Trails Day on June 7, the North Country Trail Association Brule-St. Croix chapter had a full day of events planned, among them, an afternoon hike along the North Country Trail. To see what I could expect, I chose a section of the trail to hike earlier that morning. Starting at Highway 53 trailhead, I hiked south toward the Douglas County Wildlife Management Area, more commonly known as the bird sanctuary.
Julie LeBard never minded suffering a few bruises for her daughter. Amanda LeBard, a senior at Superior High School and the Spartan softball team's top pitcher this season, is grateful for her mother's sacrifices. "I wouldn't be where I am if I didn't have her because she took me out every day and caught for me and she's a trooper," Amanda LeBard said. "She got hit but it didn't matter. She'd just take a two minute break and say, 'I'm fine,' and then go back in. She had to ice her knees a few times." LeBard said it was her mother who first introduced her to softball.
It was a year of ups and downs for local softball teams. The experienced teams from Northwood High School and Superior High School each rolled to championship titles in their respective conferences. The young teams of Northwestern and Solon Springs, meanwhile, worked on improving their skills and growing as teams that will contend next season. The Spartans and Evergreens will both be saying goodbye to many seniors, five of whom were named to the Daily Telegram All-Area Softball team.
The pine barrens around the Douglas County Bird Sanctuary are an excellent place to search for wildflowers in the spring. After a recent controlled burn, much can be seen on the still charred ground: sand cherries sporting their white flowers, deep golden splashes of bellwort and a discarded beer can glinting in the sun. A handful of people gathered at the Friends of the Bird Sanctuary club house near Solon Springs on May 31 to go on a walk and look for native wildflowers. But what began as search for blossoms quickly evolved into an impromptu litter clean-up.
At her home near Pattison Park, Julie Williams has swapped a view of her horse pasture for one of piles of dirt. "I gave up my last horse (last) spring, and my horse pasture immediately was made into a motocross track," Williams said. "Where I once could enjoy the view of my horses and woods, I now look at mounds of dirt." The motocross track is used as a practice course by Julie's son, Scott Williams, 20, who has been racing in motocross events for about five years. In that time he has never raced a dirt bike.
When members of the Spartan track team competed in the WIAA Division 1 state meet last season, everyone wanted to know one thing: "Where's Superior?" This year, five more students from Superior High School will participate in the state meet, and they are prepared to help competitors brush up on their Wisconsin geography. Zach Colvin placed second in the long jump at the WIAA sectional meet at Eau Claire North to advance to state.
Chris Stovern and Nate Nelson, pole vaulters for Northwestern High School, were overjoyed with their practice site Wednesday afternoon. The sky was clear, the air was warm and the Tigers were preparing for the WIAA Division 2 state track meet in the parking lot of Iron River Elementary School. "This here, is a lot better than what we've had," said Nelson, a sophomore. "What we've had has been inside the gym.
When the Evergreens began their WIAA Division 4 softball game at Northwood School Thursday, the sky was clear and the sun was shining warmly. By the time the game finished, the sun was beginning to set and the Evergreen's season was over. Northwood and Frederic played for 11 innings in a regional final game before Frederic emerged with a 5-3 victory. Evergreens coach Beth Block described the experience emotionally and physically exhausting. Frederic coach Erin Hansford agreed. "It was a good game," Hansford said.
Last season, the Superior High School softball team was ousted from the Division 1 WIAA playoffs in the first round by Eau Claire Memorial. In Superior Tuesday, the Spartans faced Menomonie hoping not to see their season end early once again. For the six seniors of the team, the resolve to win was strong. "I think all of the seniors were really determined to keep on going, but especially Amanda (LeBard) who's worked really hard for many years," SHS coach Amy Zembo said.