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Hopefully something to look forward to; fall assignments announced

Thinking positively toward the start of next school year, the WIAA released its post-season assignments for the fall of 2020 last week.

The assignments show minimal changes for teams at Medford, Rib Lake and Gilman high schools in the sports of volleyball, cross country, girls tennis, girls swimming and boys soccer.

_ A noteworthy item comes in boys soccer where Medford has been tabbed to host the WIAA Division 3 sectional championship on Saturday, Oct. 31 at Raider Field.

To get to that final, the Medford Raiders will have to work their way through a nine-team sectional half-bracket that will again include Antigo, Lakeland, Mosinee, New London, Rhinelander, Shawano and 2019’s top seed, Waupaca. Clintonville bumps up from Division 4 and is new to the mix, while Amherst drops out to Division 4. Fox Valley Lutheran, who eliminated Medford in a thrilling 2019 regional final that ended in a tiebreaking shootout, moves southeast to the Sheboygan Falls sectional.

The other side of the sectional adds Somerset, who played in Division 4 last year, and has 10 teams, including defending champion Rice Lake.

_ After a one-year absence, Merrill is back in the local Division 2 volleyball sectional half-bracket. Medford and Merrill join 12 other schools in a huge geographical half-bracket that loses Adams- Friendship and Mauston. Mauston was the two-seed in 2019.

The rest of the holdovers from 2019 are Antigo, Arcadia, Black River Falls, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, La Crosse Logan, Lakeland, Mosinee, Northland Pines, Rhinelander, Sparta, Tomahawk and West Salem.

Altoona is set to host the sectional final on Oct. 31. The other side of the bracket includes defending sectional champion Bloomer and gets one addition, Spooner.

In Division 4, the Gilman Pirates are in a 15-team half-sectional that remains nearly intact from 2019. Defending state champion Clear Lake is in it. Thorp is the only newcomer, while Greenwood slides to the Bowler sectional and Plum City-Elmwood bumps up to Division 3.

The rest of the half-bracket includes Clayton, Cornell, Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran, Frederic, Lake Holcombe, Luck, McDonell Central, New Auburn, Owen-Withee, Prairie Farm, Siren and Turtle Lake.

Clear Lake is slated to host the sectional final.

In the Bowler sectional, Rib Lake’s half-bracket has a few tweaks. Greenwood, Stevens Point Pacelli and Marion are in. Pacelli played in Division 3 in 2019. Central Wisconsin South teams Almond-Bancroft, Tri-County and Wild Rose are out. Rib Lake beat Wild Rose in the first round of 2019’s tournament. The top seed from last fall and the twoseed and defending champion, Columbus Catholic and Newman Catholic, remain along with Assumption, Athens, Loyal, Northland Lutheran, Pittsville, Port Edwards, Prentice, Rosholt, Tigerton and Wisconsin Valley Lutheran.

_ In cross country, Medford has again been assigned to the Colby site in Division 2, where the Raider girls will go in as two-time sectional champions. There’s only one change to the 15-team lineup in that meet. Elk Mound moves out as the Mounders drop to Division 3, but Medford’s GNC rival Mosinee moves in from its previous sectional site in Tomahawk. Elk Mound was one of the boys teams that finished ahead of Medford in the 2019 meet.

In Division 3, the Prentice-Rib Lake Hawks will head back to the South Shore sectional for a third straight year. The Hawks got to state in 2019 as the secondplace girls team. One addition, Cumberland, expands the field to 22 teams. The Beavers drop down after competing in Division 2 in 2019.

Thorp-Gilman is back in Sectional 4, but a host is still needed. Boyceville had been the host school in recent years. A 22-team field is expected there with St. Croix Falls bumping up to Division 2, Elk Mound taking its place and Loyal-Greenwood sliding in from the east.

_ Medford’s girls swim team sees only one change in its Division 2 sectional meet, which loses River Falls. The Wildcats bump up to Division 1, leaving the Raiders fending with the usual cast of Antigo, Colby-Abbotsford, the Ladysmith Co-op, Lakeland, Menomonie, Merrill, Mosinee, Rhinelander, Rice Lake, Tomahawk, Wausau East and Wittenberg-Birnamwood for state spots. Rhinelander is the defending champion. The meet, which was held in Wisconsin Rapids for the first time last November, currently has no host school listed.

_ Nothing changes for Medford’s girls tennis team, as it stays in a Division 2 subsectional grouping with Ashland, Assumption, Columbus Catholic, Lakeland, Newman Catholic, Pacelli and Phillips though there is no site listed yet for that meet. Baldwin-Woodville will host the sectional meet and the other subsectional with all nine teams in that subsectional being the same as 2019, including defending sectional champion Eau Claire Regis.

_ Football divisions and brackets aren’t determined until after the regular season ends, but 2020 will be a season of change as Gilman begins 8-player football in a new conference with New Auburn, Alma Center Lincoln, Bruce, Phillips and McDonell Central. The Pirates’ first-ever 8-player game is set for Aug. 28 at Plainfield Tri-County.

Rib Lake-Prentice moves to a newlook Lakeland Conference that includes Flambeau, Ladysmith, Hurley, Cornell-Lake Holcombe, Unity, Grantsburg and Webster. After non-conference games at Athens and at home with Tomahawk, the Hawks open Lakeland Conference play at Webster Sept. 4 and Cornell-Lake Holcombe Sept. 11 before hosting Flambeau on Sept. 18.

The Great Northern Conference adds Hayward, who Medford will host Sept. 25. Medford opens 2020 with consecutive road games at Rice Lake, Menominee, Mich. and Ashland.

The homecoming game is planned for Oct. 2 against Antigo.