2023-24 winter sports, activities summary

By Bob Skubal

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

TOMAHAWK – Before I summarize the 2023-24 winter sports, I would like to recognize some special achievements at THS.

First, it was reported that Scout Stromberg will be playing college hockey at Concordia. Best wishes to her as she goes on to compete at the next level.

Next, Trey Morrison, Alex Clifford, Arawen Alberg, Xan Sutton, Murphy Koth, Bella Marino, Robin Schmidt and Maddy Baumann were selected to sing in the 74th Annual Dorian Vocal Festival in Iowa.

Ella Uelman will be taking part in the 2024 Senate Scholar Program in Madison.


 Four Tomahawk High School (THS) students participated in the 2024 Future Business Leaders of America Regional Leadership Conference. They worked on remote objective tasks on various business concepts. Placing first was Ryan Larson, who worked on organizational leadership. Elizabeth Lee was second in personal finance, while Sadie Liebelt and Emerson Lange were fourth in sports and entertainment management. Both Ryan Larson and Elizabeth Lee qualified to compete in the FBLA Leadership Conference on Monday, April 8 and Tuesday, April 9 in Green Bay. Congratulations to the aforementioned students on their present and future success.

Tomahawk Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), coached by Connor Ahrens, had their varsity team qualify and compete at Edgewood College in Madison at the State LifeSmarts Competition. Team members of Emerson Lange, Sadie Liebelt, Elizabeth Lee, Scarlet McKenzie and Galen Schmidt placed fifth as a team.

THS Forensics

All 23 members of the THS Forensics team advanced to district competition to be held in Tomahawk on Saturday, March 16. The team, coached by Michele Balda, Nancy Herbison and Shirley Derleth, is competing in the following categories: Alexandra Schertz, Farrago; Arawen Alberg, Izzy Lee, Trey Morrison, Murphy Koth and Xan Sulton, Group Interpretive Reading; Aubrey Graeber, Mariah Sparbel and Kambyl Mattke, Group Interpretive Reading; Sadie Ruder, Payton Loka and Jayden Dellinger, Group Interpretive Reading; Sarah Kallerud, Delilah Sutton, Landon Plantenberg and Tamara Stenberg, Group Interpretive Reading; Cedar Hoffman, Poetry Reading, Phoebe Hrdina, Poetry Reading; Alena Cerkas, Prose Reading; Galen Schmidt, Prose Reading; Madeline Long, Prose Reading; Magdalene Lashua, Prose Reading; and Julia McGovern, Radio News Reporting.


The THS Drama Department performed the Broadway musical “Little Women” on Friday, March a through Sunday, 3. Makayla Zipp and Corey Colburn were Co-Directors, and Michele Balda was Assistant Director. Cast members were Murphy Koth, Arawen Alberg, Cedar Hoffman, Greta Kurth, Ella Hilgendorf, Bella Marino, Sadie Ruder, Xan Sutton, Landon Plantenberg, Galen Schmidt, Dorian Stefan, Ella Hilgendorf, Shyann Boos, Trey Morrison, Madeline Long, Julia McGovern and Scarlet McKenzie. Crew members were Cedar Hoffman, Caroline Klesmith, Autumn Baker, Shyann Boos, Finn Collburn, Ella Hilgendorf, Novalyne Jashinsky, Katelyn Kretzachmar, Madeline Long, Julia McGovern, Scarlet McKenzie, Landon Plantenberg, AJ Schertz, Exxie Walbeck, Sudrey Sneed and Makayla Zipp.


The first athletic activity I would like to summarize is hockey.

Hockey has been a sport at THS since the 1972-73 season, under the direction of Jim Sheridan. All home games back then were played outdoors at Pride Park and were dependent on the weather, unlike the present facilities at SARA Park. In the sports’ 52-year history, the 2023-24 season, under the direction of head coach Dewey Reilly, assisted by Kole Woodall and Andrew Flynn, was the first co-conference title earned in boys’ hockey for Tomahawk.

Team members were Trevor Seliskar, Caleb Dickens, Brody Hilgendorf, Austin Lames, Rex Reilly, Jonah Dickens, Brayden Lamer, Carson Childers, Caiden Reichelt, Scout Stromberg, Logan Seymour, Landyn Seymour, Sawyer Hanna, Patrick Samundsen, Mason Jaecks, Beau Stromberg, Alex Clifford, Rex Peritz, Michael Samundsen, Loreno Silenzi and Andrew Samundsen.

While Tomahawk earned 21 round robin conference points to 18 for Lakeland, Lakeland turned the tables on Tomahawk in conference tournament points, with 21 points to 18 for Tomahawk. This resulted in Tomahawk and Lakeland being co-conference champions with 39 points each.

This team had potential, and coach Reilly set up some solid nonconference competition to prepare the team for success at the end of the season, knowing that early or mid-season losses would only make them stronger down the stretch. Going into the playoffs, Tomahawk was 15-8 overall, 7-0 in conference points competition and 2-1 in the conference points tournament. Wins in the conference were 11-4 over Rhinelander, 10-0 over Medford, 9-4 over Mosinee, 4-3 over Lakeland, 5-2 over Antigo, 7-1 over Eagle River and 4-2 over Waupaca. Lakeland was the lone conference loss 2-0. Nonconference wins were 9-0 over St. Paul Johnson, 14-2 over Merrill/Wausau East, 9-2 over Barron Co-Op, 11-2 over Medford, 5-2 over Mosinee, 10-0 over St. Point Pacelli, 6-1 over Oshkosh North and 4-1 over Ashland. Non-conference losses were 5-2 to Amery, 5-4 to Somerset, 5-4 to Mosinee in overtime, 5-1 to Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha/Shiocton, 5-3 to Superior, 3-0 to University School of Milwaukee, 4-3 to Marshfield in overtime and 2-0 to Lakeland.

All-Conference honors went to Jonah Dickens and Austin Lamer, 1st Team. Caleb Dickens, Logan Seymour, Sawyer Hanna, Brayden Lamer and Rex Reilly were honorable mention. Lamer was voted GNC Player of the Year.

Tournament action started with a 5-2 win over Rhinelander, a 3-0 win over Waupaca and an 8-2 victory over Mosinee on their way to the state tournament for the first time since 1991. At state, they would skate hard, but lose to defending state champions New Richmond, 8-4. This would end Tomahawk’s record at 18-9 and tie with last season (18-6 under the direction of Chris Bembinster) for the most wins in a single season.

Athletes earning hat tricks or more during the season were Jonah Dickens with four goals, and Austin Lamer had hat tricks vs. St. Paul Johnson, Merrill/Wausau East and Mosinee in the playoffs. Caleb Dickens had six goals against Rhinelander, and Jonah Dickens had four goals against Mosinee. Jonah Dickens and Caleb Dickens had hat tricks against Stevens Point Pacelli, and Caleb Dickens and Sawyer Hanna had hat tricks against Medford.

Boys’ swimming

The second activity being reviewed is boys’ swimming, under the direction of veteran coach Theresa L’Esperance.

Team members were Dane DeKiep, Zach Germano, Jack Amelse, Bruce Petz, Sam Zastrow, Trea Mattson and Toby Scott.

The program had a 7-4 dual meet record with wins over Antigo 74-62 and 84-54; Shawano/Seymour 84-39 and 80-64; and Medford 81-46, 83-46 and 68-63. Dual meet losses were to Rhinelander 92-42, 112-30 and 107-39; and Antigo 72-69. Tomahawk was fifth of five teams at the Wisconsin Rapids Invite and 10th of 12 teams at the Ashwaubenon Invite. Final conference dual meet standings were Rhinelander 4-0, Tomahawk 3-1, Antigo 2-2, Shawano/Seymour 1-3 and Medford 0-4. Rhinelander would once again win the conference tournament held at Antigo with 372 points, followed by Tomahawk with 212, Antigo 204, Shawano/Seymour 181 and Medford 126. Final conference points were Rhinelander 20, Tomahawk 16, Antigo 12, Shawano/Seymour 8 and Medford 4.

All-Conference honors for Tomahawk were the 400 freestyle relay team of Sam Zastrow, Bruce Peetz, Trey Morrison and Dane DeKiep, 2nd team; the 200 medley relay team of Trey Morrison, Zach Germano, Dane DeKiep and Jack Amelse, 2nd team; Sam Zastrow, 2nd team 200 freestyle; Bruce Peetz, 2nd team, 500 freestyle; Zach Germano, 2nd team, 100 breaststroke; Trey Morrison, honorable mention, 100 backstroke; Sam Zastrow, honorable mention, 100 freestyle; and Dane DeKiep, honorable mention, 200 IM.

 Sectionals at Ashwaubenon saw Tomahawk take 8th of 10 teams with127 points, while Rhinelander was once again sectional champions with 389 points.

Zach Germano and Dane DeKiep qualified for state. Germano placed 15th in the 100-yd. breaststroke, while DeKiep placed 16th in the 100 yd.-backstroke.

Overall, the team did quite well under Coach L’Esperance’s leadership.

Boys’ wrestling

Next is boys’ wrestling, under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Bob Garrou. He was assisted by veteran coaches John Repinski, Ted Towle, Dane Borchardt, Nate Mickelson and Blair Otterholt.

Team members were Bradyn Ristau, Presley Gutbrod, Harmon Hoffmann, Jack Derleth, Fletcher Baumann, Ryan Larson, Zander Zehner, Andrew Tollefson, Kaiden Kapellusch, Skylar Harper-Dahlvig, Blake Younker, Tristin Bridges, Zach Larson, Walter Horabik, Connor Jones, Mason Towle, Tanner Wanta, Dane Schoenenberger, Nathan Norman, Owen Oates, Ethan Trayes and Ethan Gibeault.

The team was 12-7 in dual meets with victories over Berlin 58-24, Rhinelander 45-36, 54-30 and 60-18, Amherst 49-24, Lakeland 45-29 and 56-27, Antigo 55-24 and 54-26, Wabeno/Laona/Three Lakes 48-28, Crivitz 58-18 and Mosinee 51-27. Losses were to Weyauwega-Fremont 69-9, Medford 64-16 and 59-18, Mosinee 40-36, Ashland 39-36 (the first time since the 1979-80 season that Ashland defeated Tomahawk and only the second time in 45 meetings), Northwestern 40-33 and Wausau East 39-36. Medford would win the conference dual meet crown with a 5-0 record while Tomahawk, Lakeland and Mosinee would be second at 3-2, followed by Rhinelander 1-4 and Antigo 0-5. In nonconference tournament action, Tomahawk was 8th of 22 teams at the Rebel Invite, 7th of 26 teams at the Hodag Holiday Tourney, 11th of 26 teams at the Merrill Invite and 2nd of 10 teams at the Markesan Invite. At the conference tournament in Antigo, Medford would win with a score of 474, followed by Tomahawk 355, Lakeland 301, Mosinee 260, Antigo 234 and Rhinelander 225. Total conference points were Medford 32, Tomahawk 16, Lakeland 14, Mosinee 12, Rhinelander 4 and Antigo 0.

Making All-Conference was Presley Gutbrod, first team. Second team honors went to Jack Derleth, Fletcher Baumann and Ryan Larson, and honorable mention honors went to Zander Zehner, Connor Jones, Kaiden Kapellusch, Blake Younker, Walter Horabik and Bradyn Ristau. All All-Conference wrestlers from 1964 to the present are listed on engraved boards outside of the elementary fieldhouse for your viewing.

At the Medford regional, Tomahawk was 4th of 13 teams with 167 points, with Medford wearing the regional crown with 474 points. Qualifying for sectionals were Bradyn Ristau, Presley Gutbrod, Walter Horabik, Jack Derleth, Fletcher Baumann, Ryan Larson, Zander Zehner and Kaiden Kapellusch. As Tomahawk hosted the first sectional in wrestling history, this was where the boys ended their season, as no one was able to advance to the state tournament in Madison.

Presley Gutbrod would end his high school career with a 128-24 record for a winning percentage of .842. This put him in 18th place in winning percentages in Tomahawk wrestling history.

Boys’ basketball

Our last boys sport is basketball, under the direction of John Larson. John was assisted by Levi Spaeth, John List, Neil Breitenfeld and Jeremy Zimmerman.

Team members were Easton Sleaper, Ethan Ihn, Malachi Scheffler, Nathan Rosenmeier, Colton Seslar, Dominic Boos, Brody Rigney, Quentin Susa, Riley Massa, Cooper Hetzel and Tyler Sundquist.

The team struggled throughout the entire season and managed only two wins and 23 losses. The teams’ two victories were against White Lake 55-52, with Rigney scoring 29 points, and Faith Christian Academy of Wausau 55-53, with Rigney scoring 18. Losses were to Three Lakes 60-22, Eagle River 63-24 and 44-26, Prentice 83-44, Rhinelander 69-26 and 61-24, Lakeland 69-22 and 78-47, Elcho 63-59 (Rigney scores 31 points), Montello 87-39, Marion 55-39, Mosinee 94-26 and 109-26, Medford 81-24 and 101-60, Tigerton 54-37, Antigo 88-34 and 68-39, Rib Lake 69-49, Crandon 58-56, Tri-County 76-65, Phillips 68-27 and 75-33 to Wittenberg-Birnamwood in the playoffs.

Final conference standings were Mosinee 10-2, Rhinelander 10-2, Medford 9-3, Lakeland 7-5, Eagle River 3-9, Antigo 3-9 and Tomahawk 0-12.

Brody Rigney received All-Conference honorable mention honors.

Girls’ basketball

Our first girls sport is girls’ basketball, under the direction of Jon Long. Jon was assisted by Jeremy Baalke, Tim Albert, Amanda Nowak and Kezleigh Vacho.

Team members were Lydia Shaney, Claire Albert, Kinsley Lange, Freya Alberg, Lily Krueger, Madeline Long, Caylie Swan, Milly Jablonski, Elizabeth Arnott, Bryn Baalke, Khianna Vacho, Lydia Ziert, Jennie Frederickson and Aubrey Beaubert.

The team had an 8-18 record and won their first playoff game since 2006. This was the most wins for the Hatchets since the 2002-03 season, when Tomahawk was 14-8 under the direction of Tim Albert. While the team failed to gather a conference victory, they did find success with seven nonconference contests going into the playoffs. Losses were to Butternut 47-39 (Vacho scores 11), Bloomer 61-30 (Vacho and Albert each score 10), Antigo 43-39 and 50-44, Eagle River 41-14 and 43-23, Prentice 37-26, Rhinelander 68-22 and 69-35, Lakeland 87-18 and 73-25, Mosinee 71-31 and 71-26, Medford 73-32 (Alberg scores 16) and 66-36, Three Lakes 46-25, Rib Lake 56-23 and 61-23 to Freedom in the second round of the playoffs. Victories were 53-34 over Marion (Albert scores 16, Vacho 13 and Alberg 12) and Marathon 35-30 in the Tomahawk Christmas tournament. Other victories were 55-32 over Chequamegon (Albert scores 19 and Alberg 18), 45-11 over Elcho, 42-28 over Northland Lutheran (Albert scores 18, Vacho 11 and Alberg 10), 50-34 over Tri-County (Albert scores 17, Vacho 11 and Baalke 10), 57-26 over Goodman (Vacho scores 19 and Alberg 18) and Sturgeon Bay 48-35 in the playoffs.

Final conference standings were Lakeland 12-0, Rhinelander 9-3, Mosinee 8-4, Medford 7-5, Eagle River 3-9, Antigo 3-9 and Tomahawk 0-12.

Freya Alberg and Claire Albert were given All-Conference honorable mention honors.

Girls’ wrestling

The last, but surely not the least by a long shot, is girls’ wrestling.

Those that have followed girls wrestling over the years know that Tomahawk has had females wrestling since the 1981-82 season. Tomahawk has even had Alyssa Lampe make it all the way to the boys’ state finals back in the 2005-06 season, but we have never had the number of young ladies hitting the mats been so strong for Tomahawk as this year. This being the second year that the WIAA has sanctioned girls wrestling has really opened many doors of opportunities for girls. These old eyes sure enjoyed watching the young ladies waiting to hit the mats at sectionals and then see them perform on the mats. They are indeed true athletes in a tough sport. I enjoyed watching them pacing before their matches and then seeing them hit move after move against their opponents. It hasn’t been that many years ago that the WIAA said that Girls’ GAA was the limit of girls’ participation in high school sports.

The coaching staff at THS has done an amazing job with girls wrestling this season and their future looks extremely bright. According to communication I had with Activities Director, Ryan Flynn, last year Wisconsin had over 400 girls interested in wrestling, and those numbers have risen to over 1400 this year. It won’t be long and more than sectional champions will be advancing to the state tournament.

This season, team members were Alli Palmer, Grace Waring, Elise Gibeault, Reese Molitor, Halle Derleth, Nadia Schoone, Maddie List, Kylie Peissig, Kaylynn Sandry, Robin Schmidt and Payton Haring. Coaches for the girls were the same as the boys, except that the girls had their own practice room until January. This separate coaching allowed the girls to advance their skills.

Their season started out at the Southern Door “Eagle” Scramble, where Tomahawk was second of 10 teams with 95 points. Next was the Wrightstown Scramble, where Tomahawk was 22nd of 46 teams with 22 points. Individual results from the Merrill “Bluejay” Invitational were Elise Gibeault and Nadia Schoone, third; Alli Palmer, Kylie Peissig, Halle Derleth and Maddie List, fourth; Robin Schmidt and Kaylynn Sandry, fifth; Grace Waring and Reese Molitor, sixth; and Payton Haring, seventh. At the St. Croix Falls Classic, Elise Gibeault, Halle Derleth, Robin Schmidt and Maddie List were first, Kylie Peissig and Alli Palmer were second, Kaylynn Sandry was third, Grace Waring and Payton Haring were fifth and Reese Molitor sixth. At the Marshfield Invite, Tomahawk was 7th of 24 teams with 28 points, and they concluded their regular season at the Eau Claire North Invitational by placing 6th of 26 teams with 156 points.

At the sectionals held at Tomahawk, the girls had the following results: Elise Gibeault, first; Kylie Peissig and Madeline List, second; Alli Palmer, Kaylynn Sandry, Robin Schmidt and Reese Molitor, fourth; Halle Derleth and Payton Haring, DNP.

Elise Gibeault was the first female to qualify for girls’ wrestling since the sport was sanctioned by the WIAA two years ago. She wrestled well at state, but lost to Mya Delleree of Ozaukee and Jenna Lawrence of River Falls.

I would like to conclude the summary of the 2023-24 season by thanking Activities Director Ryan Flynn for all of his hard work. He is truly making a difference at THS and goes beyond what one could expect of someone in his position.

And for those that have heard rumors, yes, Merrill will once again become part of the GNC in the 2025-26 school year.

Alumni who have passed

Last, I would like to mention Tomahawk High School Athletes that have passed away this past winter. They are Jim Likwarz, Class of ’48; Jim Shea, Class of ’53; Ray Ingman, Class of ‘78; Dave Manninen, Class of ’90; Zach Hagar, Class of ’03; and Kayla Dotter, Class of ‘06.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

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