Fall 2020 sports summary: Tomahawk well-represented by Hatchet athletes

By Bob Skubal

Retired coach, historian, author of ‘History of Tomahawk Sports’

This appears to be the perfect time to take a look back at Tomahawk High School’s fall 2020 sports seasons.

Fall sporting seasons have just wrapped up and winter sporting seasons have started practices. Winter coaches and athletes are taking their seasons one day at time just as the fall coaches and athletes. Things were not normal by a long shot but opportunities were available for those willing to commit to becoming the best that they could be.

Athletic Director Garth Gerstenberger and the fall coaches came up with a way for our athletes to have some type of normalcy going into this pandemic. According to WIAA guidelines, schedules were adjusted by keeping our teams closer to home, cancelling larger sporting events and shortening the seasons. Postseasons were adjusted to keep our student athletes safe. With all of these precautions in place, THS athletic students were able to get out of the house and school, get some exercise, be with some of their friends, and for awhile think about something besides this virus.

Boys’ cross country

Let’s start the fall summary with a look at the boys’ cross country team. Coaches were John Zuelsdorf, Bill Turgeon, Justin Lund, Connor Ahrens, Kurt Reinke, Rachael Miller and Stephanie Welke. Team members were Garron Albrent, Drew Bolder, Hunter Borchardt, Noah Buckwalter, Ethan Liebnitz, Alex Norman, Hunter VanRyen, Arden Ziert, Taje Casey, John Mark Hawley, Jacob Towle, Owen Dickrell, Brett Borchardt and Presley Gutbrod.

The team would win the Ashland Invitational (Buckwalter is medalist), win the Tomahawk Invitational (Bolder is medalist), defeat Medford 21-40 in a dual, and defeat Chequamegon 25-30 in a dual (Norman is medalist). THS would continue with a victory at the Rhinelander Triangular (Bolder is medalist) and Tomahawk Invitational (Buckwalter is medalist) before heading into the GNC meet in Tomahawk. THS would produce their 15th conference championship with 32 points. All conference honors went to Noah Buckwalter-1st team, Drew Bolder-1st team, Alex Norman-1st team, Arden Ziert-2nd team, Owen Dickrell-2nd team, Hunter Borchardt-2nd team and Ethan Liebnitz-honorable mention.

After conference Tomahawk went to a nine-team sub-sectional at Oconto Falls. THS would win sub-sectionals with 39 points (Bolder is medalist) and advance to sectionals at Tomahawk, where they placed 3rd as a team, with Noah Buckwalter advancing to state as an individual. At state, Noah ended his career with a 45th place. “Z” and staff did another amazing job with the boys by peaking them at the right time and keeping them fresh and competitive all season long.

Final conference standings: Tomahawk 32, Lakeland 63, Medford 93, Eagle River 109, Rhinelander 112, Antigo 119, Mosinee 163.

Girls’ cross country

Our next team is girls’ cross-country team. The squad had the same coaches as the boys with team members being Tiana Gerstenberger, Autumn Peissig, Ava Dragosh, Emily Lacina, Macey Mann, Kate Reilly, Geena Wanta, Morgan Hansmann, Serena Reinke, Greta Tjugum, Marie Gorell, Kambyl Mattke, Rachael Reilly and Robin Schmidt.

The girls would win the Ashland Invitational, place second at the Tomahawk Invite, lose 41-17 to Medford in a dual and defeat Chequamegon 19-40 (Rachael Reilly is medalist). THS would then win the Rhinelander Triangular and the Tomahawk Invite before heading into the conference meet. At conference, Tomahawk would place second with 52 points. All Conference honors went to Rachael Reilly-1st team, Kate Reilly-2nd team, Macey Mann-2nd team, Morgan Hansmann-2nd team and Greta Tjugum-honorable mention.

After conference, Tomahawk won the nine-team sub-sectional meet at Oconto Falls with 33 points (Rachael Reilly is medalist). Tomahawk would place second at sectionals with 49 points, which was just nine points behind Freedom. By placing second, Tomahawk High School would qualify for state. At state, Tomahawk would place 8th with 165 points in Division 2. State place winners were Rachael Reilly-27, Greta Tjugum-43, Kate Reilly-62, Morgan Hansmann-73, Emily Lacina-75, Macey Mann-85 and Ava Dragosh-110. The trip to state was the 24th for the girls. Next year looks extremely promising if all stay healthy. Once again, “Z” and staff did an amazing job with the girls, peaking them at the right time, keeping them fresh and competitive all season long.

Final conference standings: Medford 38, Tomahawk 52, Lakeland 70, Mosinee 87, Rhinelander 114, Antigo 166, Eagle River 203.

Girls’ swimming

Next let’s look at girls’ swimming. Theresa L’Esperance is the only head coach that this program has ever known. Even though they were down a few in numbers,  that did not stop her from getting the very best of those who chose to come out. While it may not show it on the win-loss column, Tomahawk had some very hardworking girls who gave it everything they had all season long. Team members were Julianna Skubal, Abby Jaecks, Joanna Phillips, Karlie Woodall, Brynn Steffen, Maddie List, Alexandria Schertz and Taya Johnson.

The season saw THS go 1-8 in duals with losses to Rhinelander (135-22; Rhinelander would go on to become Division 2 state champs), Mosinee (77-70), Colby/Abby (95-61), Lakeland (88-41), Medford (84-46), Ladysmith (122-39), Antigo (73-58), and Mosinee (83-73) before defeating Black River Falls (69-64). As you can see, Tomahawk was a couple of girls short of having a much different season. Karlie would also be crowned All-Conference-1st team in diving.

Tomahawk would place 11th at sub-sectionals, but would advance Karlie Woodall to the state tournament. Karlie would place 10th in diving.

Final conference standings: Rhinelander 7-0, Lakeland 6-1, Ladysmith 5-2, Medford 4-3, Antigo 3-4, Colby/Abby 2-5, Mosinee 1-6, Tomahawk 0-7.


Girls’ volleyball was coached by Lauren Pfeifer, Emily Pierce and Keith Hanse. Team members were Amalie Kurth, Alyssa Klopatek, Meghan Scholz, Carly Scholz, Gracie Barnett, Alyssa Zehner, Lexy Millard, Mackenzie Scholz, Addison Bartz, Audrey Fryar and Katie Pierce.

THS would have a 2-9 record, but they were competitive with everyone they met. Lauren Pfeifer and staff kept the girls aggressive with every team that they faced. Season results were a 3-0 loss to Mosinee (18-25 20-25 18-25), 3-2 loss to Lakeland (20-25 26-28 25-20 26-24 8-15), 3-1 loss to Eagle River (26-28 25-22 23-25 21-25), a 3-1 loss to Antigo (19-25 26-24 19-25 16-25), 3-1 loss to Medford (15-25 25-22 23-25 13-25), 3-0 win over Rhinelander (25-20 25-15 25-14), 3-2 loss to Ashland (21-25 23-25 25-22 25-22, 12-15), 3-0 loss to Lakeland (18-25 18-25 22-25), and a 3-0 win over Rhinelander (25-20 25-22 25-8) before heading into playoffs. At Regionals, THS lost 3-0 to Colby (17-25 13-25 23-25) but Colby had to forfeit because of rules violations. The contest still went in the books as a loss and Tomahawk went on to play Mosinee again, losing 3-0 (18-25 21-25 22-25).

All conference honors went to Meghan Scholz-1st team, Katie Pierce-2nd team and Alyssa Zehner-honorable mention.

Final conference standings:

Mosinee 9-0, Antigo 6-3, Medford 5-4, Eagle River 3-6, Lakeland 5-3, Tomahawk 2-6, Rhinelander 0-8.


Our final sport of the fall is football. Coaches were Sam Hernandez, Andy Peissig, Jeremy Zimmerman, Dave Long, Aaron Evans, Steven Shrigley, Jon Long, and Nick Schertz. Team members were Mitch Jimenez, Tyler Jablonski, Zach Friske, Mason Evans, Bode Imm, Clayton Ristau, Gavyn Palmer, Logan Bishop, Elijah Sheffler, Erik Decker, Adam Hall, Jake Kaminski, Ryan Skees, Zach Hanse, Addison Peissig, Ryan Dietrich, Tyler Beck, Ben Schertz, Hudson Mattke, Nathan Gould, Joseph Jones, Seamus Gorgan, Austin Leinen, Elijah Mullen, Nick Arnott, Blake Teske, Kyle Norman, Kade Wenninger, James Gillmer, Dakota Jelinek and Cody Cox.

Sam Hernandez and staff did a good job preparing the team for their new conference. While this new conference will present some interesting challenges for Tomahawk, it is definitely a better conference to succeed in than the old one. This author is confident that Sam and his staff will work extremely hard to put the best team out week after week.

The season started with a 39-6 loss to Marshall (Evans rushes for 101 yards). Their second game was a 25-8 victory over Northern Elite (Niagara/Goodman/Pembine with Bishop rushing for 108 yards on 9 carries), followed by a 43-12 loss to Eagle River, a 40-16 loss to Oconto Falls, a 56-25 loss to Crivitz (Evans rushes for 124 yds. on 10 carries), a 26-12 win over Crandon and a 67-0 loss to Coleman.

Because of COVID-19, all teams were put into the playoffs instead of having a state tournament. Tomahawk was scheduled to play Wittenberg-Birnamwood in the first round, but had 18 players test positive or had to quarantine themselves so the game was null and void. Wittenberg-Birnamwood did, however, go on to lose a one-point game to Stratford.

All conference players were Kade Wenninger-1st team (O), Tyler Beck-1st Team (O), Mason Evans-2nd team (O), Jake Kaminski-2nd team (O), Nathan Gould-2nd team (D), Tyler Beck-2nd team (D), Ryan Skees-2nd team (D), Jake Kaminski-2nd team (D), Mason Evans-honorable mention (D) and Bode Imm-honorable mention (D).

Final conference standings: Oconto Falls 3-1, Coleman 2-0, Crivitz 2-0, Eagle River 2-2, Tomahawk 2-4, Northern Elite 1-1, Crandon 0-4. (Menominee Indian did not play the fall season. All Wisconsin schools had the option to play a fall or spring season).

The fall 2020 athletes did a fine job representing Tomahawk. They fought hard at each and every contest and did the very best with what they had. Even though things are not back to some type of normal, think about the season ending most winter sports had last year, a null and void spring season and an uncertainty of what the winter of 2020-21 will end up looking like. One has to appreciate the opportunities given.

If we are going to come out of this pandemic sooner than later, this author encourages you to wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands often, and stay away from large gatherings.

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