blugolds TOPPLE #3

Blugolds dig deep for upset over University of Northwestern Eagles

9/29/22 Eau Claire - words/photos by Branden Nall

Coming off of wins against top 10 teams Gustavus, Hope and Calvin; and sitting at #3 in the country with a record of 13-0, the University of Northwestern came into McFee ready for a battle against the National Champion Blugolds on Wednesday night.

The Eagles looked like they belong in the top 3 of the NCAA D3 Volleyball Leaderboards. The Blugolds currently holding at #11 – had other things in mind. Both teams exhumed excitement and frustration as the battle of 5 games ensued and the fans attained every cent of their entry fee.

It was like watching the National Championships last year in St. Louis. Everything was left on the floor. Sets had to be perfectly placed, so that each shot that the Blugolds delivered was meticulously detailed to ensure the ball met the floor or a ricochet off an Eagle attempted block or dig.

Every other game went to the Blugolds starting with the 2nd and none eclipsed more than a 5 point spread. Arianna Barrett, Hannah Flottmeyer and Jordan Witzel led the Blugolds on the attack with a combined 37 of the 54 kills on the night. Sharidan Dettmann, Charlie Nelson and Bailey Leeke amassed 46 digs to help UWEC take the match after a 15-12 last game victory.

The Blugolds will be at UW-Lacrosse Friday night at 7 as they look to go 3-0 in the WIAC play.

UWEC tops st.olaf

9/7/22 Eau Claire - words/photos by Branden Nall

Under a huge and almost full-moon, the Blugold Women let the Oles know how they do things on their home turf. Striking early the Blugolds found the back of the net for the first of 3 scores on the day. As darkness set in St. Olaf kept the pressure with some dynamic field control, but were never able to get the ball in goal.

The Blugolds advance to 2-1 on the season as they defeated the Oles 3-1. They have only allowed 1 goal in the last 2 games. and will face Saint Benedict on Saturday afternoon.

Get the full schedule here.

blugolds still pitch perfect

9/6/22 Eau Claire - words/photos by Branden Nall

As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler the Blugolds' stay hot. Tuesday night's game was UWEC's second shutout in a row and the 3rd (w) to keep them perfect on the year.

Having just started their 20 game season after their inaugural year, the Blugolds are showing that they are a force. Last season wrapped up at 15-4 which was excellent for a just hatched program.

If you enjoy soccer - heck, even if your not sure if you like it, pop over to to see when they play. Maybe take in the next home game. They are quite action packed!

Full Photo Gallery Coming Soon

blugolds' leadership evident

Words/Photos by Branden Nall - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Simpson Field

The UWEC Blugolds Football Team headed onto Simpson Field at upper campus on Thursday afternoon. Blue skies - 80 degrees and low humidity provided a cracking atmosphere for the first day back on the field for the 2022 season.

I surfed around the edges of the field taking in the sights and sounds of day one. I couldn't help but get the sense of over whelming leadership and drive that had been resounding through the air since the moment I walked through the gate.

Encouragement and excitement along with stern focus from a 'work perspective' was forefront.

And work they did. Enthusiastically and having a great time doing it!

Exhilaration and work ethic to get things done correctly was evident as the same squad would run through the same things multiple times to get it right! "Back on the line" echoed a few times over - coming from the players, not the coaches. Showing vested interest in day one's mission - and season.

I am excited for this year's UWEC Football season harvest; as the seeds are absolutely being sewn and watered.

metal collector


Words and Photos by Branden Nall

Before her senior year gets going, Brooklyn Sandvig, crowned State Champion in the 100m, 200m and 400m dashes, last month, will embark on a trip to the AAU Junior Olympic Games at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro.

Sandvig’s dominance has taken the Track and Field scene by storm over the past 2 years. Not just in the Chippewa Valley or the state, but nationally as one of the fastest humans in high school – ever. Presumably, powered by small multi-colored crunchy round cereal?

Snuggling with a box of Fruit Loops and popping a few into her mouth as she walks shoeless on the track, it was as if I was witnessing a metaphorical mindset crushing multiple-colored rings resembling those of the Olympic logo.

Maybe it’s an ‘unknowing’ competitive mentality that keeps the recent high school junior humble and fun witted, or maybe it’s because she tells those work/life scales to stay equal. Either way, there is never a dull moment with her spirit.

Smiley. Funny. Relaxed. As a kid should be.

Then – she steps on the track.

Closes her eyes…


"Relax your face."

"You want every bit of energy in your legs.”

To we onlookers, that track, and those competitors seemingly turn into that box and crunchy rings. The gun shocks the system waking up a giant. As quickly as the gun’s echo dissolves, she is already 3 steps out of the blocks and hugging that track like that multi-colored cereal box.

Each competitor a ring. Crushed one-by-one as her apparent love/hate relationship with those shoes comes to an agreement – 2nd is the first loser.

She does not like losing.

As she makes the last turn into the 400's final 100 meters, voices start in her head. "Relax your face", she hears from her coaches.

“You want every bit of energy in your legs”, she states after I ask about her prowess and maturity regarding relaxation during races. “You want to feel your face jiggle. You don’t look good running, so why even try?”

Sprinting down the final straight-a-way she looks as though her eyes are closed, but she assures that they are open and she is paying attention. As she crosses the line, typically seconds before her next competitor, it’s like she awakes from a meditative state of propulsion, to wondering on-to the infield knowing her goal was accomplished – they all could read the back of her jersey.

This spring WIAA track season was filled with a couplet of weather challenges. “Winter took a little bit longer and meets were cancelled. I didn’t hit my best until it started getting warm again.” She said. This worried her a little as she only hit her best a couple times before heading to state.

“I feel like state is going to be a big day for me”.

And it was. Gold in the 100, 200 and 400.

Comments, Ohs and Ahs, from the crowd as spectators watched her dominance were not secluded to a section, but everywhere. Some of the boy sprinters that were gearing up for the finals were in complete awe and event workers were taken back at her speed.

Summer, now that warm weather has descended up the Chippewa Valley, is filled with morning workouts and evening gym sessions. Sprinkled with work, watering flowers(pun intended) and sharing her green thumb, then some fun on jet skis buzzing around the lake. – but not too much and not right before competitions.

During the summer, she runs and competes for the Milwaukee Mustangs Track Team. “They have way more medals than me. They are so good!” She says about her teammates.

This summer she has earned her second trip and year-in-a-row, to the AAU Junior Olympic Games. She will be running the 100, 200, 4x100 and 4x400 relays for the Mustangs. Competition starts Monday August 1st and lasts the week.

Brooklyn in seeded 2nd in the 100 meter, just .09 sec behind the first seed.

4 seed in the 200 at only .46 seconds behind the top seed.

Top 8 for both the relays.

These seeds project her and her team to be in the finals for every event.

She tries to eat as healthy as possible – fruit rings not included. And has an affinity for oceanography which she would like to study in her collegiate future. She has been touring some possible colleges and even has had some collegiate coaches head to her. Such as the home state NCAA D1 Wisconsin Badgers.

You can catch al the action in Greensboro via livestream, here.

a new sports news and media outlet for the chippewa valley

Branden Nall - Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Almost 30 years behind a camera and an affinity for sports, forging a new path seemed the inevitable.

My first conversations started in 2018 and quickly fizzled away as questions of validity lingered. Sports were on a downward trend.

Then we had this abrupt ending to 'standard' sport. The sports that you watch on TV and that kids get scholarships to participate, gone. Stopped.

Autumn of 2021 brought a whole new light to the demand of sports media coverage, sports discipline, sports interest, participation and humanity in sport. We are seeing programs that were once on a back step - to high demand and thriving.

Conversations as sports started moving back in full-swing had captivated my desire to once again ponder on the option. But, those questions didn't take long as the conversations became more and more frequent. Coaches, parents and fans talked about the need of more coverage outside of what we have.

Nestled or running sidelines for a majority of my life with a camera, I was able to form a lot of great relationships with people. Those people were an open book after the shutdown. The desire and demand for sports wasn't just in front of me - it had tackled me and concussed my previous static vision.

So, forward we proceed. Sports on this site will not just be the mainstream top stuff that everyone covers. We will be focused on all sports, action, adventures and fitness around the Chippewa Valley. Also with emphasis of human interest stories about our local people. We will do our best to cover as much as we can, but as a small family business and bootstrapping this venture, we will probably miss some things.

We appreciate you and hope to bring you stories and photographs that will echo for many decades to come.

fierce freedom: justice run

Every year Fierce Freedom ( holds a running event in Eau Claire to raise funds for the organization. We 100% support their mission to eliminate all Human Trafficking. We are excited to have captured some bits of the action!



cavaliers net sturgeons

10 Run Rule enforced in 7th inning with 15 - 3 win.

4 Cavs .500 or higher at the plate led Eau Claire to a gripping victory over the visiting Jim Falls Sturgeons. The Cavs are on a 4 game win streak with Holmen up next on July 25th at Carson Park. 1st pitch set for 7pm.

Schaller is perfect

Christian Schaller sends it in Semi-Final

Words and Photos by Branden Nall

EAU CLAIRE - Chippewa Falls Post 77 and Eau Claire Post 53 squared-off at Carson park this afternoon under intermittent clouds and blazing sun. Late morning rains in Eau Claire had fizzled and baseball was being played.

I don't think that a pitcher wakes up in the morning and says, "I'm gonna throw a not-hitter, today." But, I could be wrong.

However, when the stars align and God and the universe high-five, sometimes a No-Hitter is less than satisfactory. Today - one of those days!

5 innings. 7 strikeouts. 0 walks. And a whole host of support from the other 10 guys playing defense.

If you know baseball, you just read '5 innings' and I presume are questioning my attention to detail. Not only was Schaller perfect, but the bats were on fire for Post 53 as they went 14 runs on 15 hits. Which put the run rule into affect after a lead of 10 at the end of 5 innings.

Tomorrow, Eau Claire will play for the Regional Championship at 2pm at Carson Park against winner of tomorrow's 11am match-up. Chippewa Falls will play at 11am tomorrow at Carson Park against the winner of the 6pm game tonight at Bollinger Fields in Eau Claire.

Will we see Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire battle again at 2 tomorrow?

uwec Student-athletes honored by nabc

Tuesday the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BASKETBALL COACHES announced it's 2021-22 Team Academic Excellence Awards and Honors Court representing the highest level of academic achievement earned by student-athletes. Among those selected was the UWEC Men's Basketball team. They have earned this prestigious award 7 of the last 9 years.

5 players took home the Honors Court award including, Nathan Banasik, Nate Hau, Spencer Page, Alex and Brock Voigt.

7th heaven


Express' Cadyn Schwabe, dressed in the classic Eau Claire Bears uniform, decides the right field fan deck needed some love during the 7th inning last night in Carson Park.

Duluth up 1-0 with a run scoring in the top of the inning.

2 outs.

Jake Sapien and Clay Conn occupying bases 3 and 1.

Schwabe at the plate.

The pitch.

Schwabe's bat connects and the reverie of 1297 fans - well, most of them, erupt in ovation as the ball soars past the right fielder over the wall onto the fan deck.

No answer from Duluth in the 8th or 9th send the Express into the top spot in the 'last 10 games' column with 9 wins. 7-1 in the second half that started last week.

The Express wrapped up the first half of the season on the 3rd and 4th of July, which rightfully so, ended in fireworks after sweeping the St Cloud Rox at home.

Tonight - the Rox are back. Just as tough as before and also sitting with a 7-1 record in the second half. I can't imagine they aren't hungry. Coming off of a loss last night against La Crosse, plus wanting some revenge on the ending that was just a week and a half ago.

Catch all the action! Get to the field. Have some drinks and some grindage.
Or watch it here - This is summer baseball at it's finest!

Cayden Schwabe crosses the plate after his 7th inning 3 run home run to put the 'Bears' Express up by 2 ultimately sealing the win. Photos by Branden Nall

out and active to pro-tour

Eau Claire - Words and photos by Branden Nall


One of the fastest growing sports in the United States(possibly world) is Disc Golf. The Professional Disc Golf Association stands by this. The sport has seen an incredible influx of players, events and major sponsorships taking shape over the last few years and prompting an explosion over the pandemic.

High caliber players on the Professional Tour have contracts that chart millions of dollars with ESPN now providing coverage of some major events.

I used to throw discs 20 years ago. Since then, nothing until 2021 when I was reintroduced to a same, but whole new sport. Immersed in sports for the majority of my life, little did I know we have a MASSIVE local disc golf community of hundreds, if not thousands, of players of all talents.

One of those, Sami Osterberg. Hailing from the metropolis of Cleghorn. Sami has a 10 hole course at her house and is a Pro. In 2014, the year after her daughter was born, Sami started looking for something to do to get out, so disc golf became that outlet. "I just threw the disc down the fairway, just to get out and be active."

Playing pretty consistently until 2019 when she was approached by a couple of regulars in the sport. They indicated that she was doing extremely well as she could throw far. Letting her know about some local tournaments, she jumped into one and the journey began.

She became a PDGA member in 2020 then found herself placing high enough and winning enough at PDGA sanctioned events that in 2021 she was moved into the Female Pro Open classification. This allows her to play Pro-Tour events at the Worlds largest competitions.

Sami is sponsored by a few different companies including Discraft Underground and MPWRD. Both organizations are on the forefront of developing this sport. The biggest motivation that Sami has is to get others on the courses and introduce them to this game - so it's a great fit for both she and her sponsors.

This year she has played in 8 sanctioned Pro Tournaments some of which are the Memorial Championship in Scottsdale, Arizona - The OTB Open in Stockton, California - The Preserve Championship in Clearwater, Minnesota and the 2022 United States Women's Disc Golf Championships in Madison, Wisconsin.

"I was a bit nervous that Hannah was on my card, until I found out the GOAT wasn't there, then I relaxed a little."

During the Preserve Championship she shared a card with Paul McBeth's wife, Hannah. Paul is considered the greatest disc golfer of all time and is still on the Pro-Tour with a U.S. rank of #2. Sami said, "I was a bit nervous that Hannah was on my card, until I found out the GOAT wasn't there, then I relaxed a little."

Sami has a day job working retail, but manages to squeeze in at least 18 holes a-day as much as she can. Her daughter also plays and will be playing on the national stage this month; absolutely loves competition and has a bunch of friends her age that also play, whom she keeps in contact with.

Tower Flex Friday is a tournament that Sami and her brother run at Tower Ridge Recreation Area just east of Eau Claire in the Town of Seymour. She has a passion for putting on events and doing all that she can to grow the sport.

She doesn't discriminate on courses in the area or traveling, so she will head to Stanley and play the course a couple times and then hit another on the way back home.

Keep an eye out for more on Sami as her career in the disc golf world grows! She is one of the best female players in the world. Here at Chippewa Valley Sports - we are rooting for great things to come!

It's pretty incredible at how many courses we have in the Chippewa Valley! I know 12 off the top of my head that span from Stanley to Menomonie to Osseo and more development is happening every single day with organizations like Chippewa Valley Disc Golf Organization and people like Sami moving the chains(pun intended).

Get out and play - most courses are free and you can pick up discs at local retailers. As of now you can find courses on UDisc where you can keep score and much more.

Chippewa Valley Sports is working on a subsite resource center for disc golf and will have it live as soon as possible.


Dylan O'Connell crosses the plate with a high helmet during a EC Pizza Hut Legion game on June 21st, 2022. Photo by Branden Nall

dylan o'connell - logan lau - brendan bresina make legion
all-star team

2022 Wisconsin American Legion Baseball State All-Star game will be played at American Family Field on August 7th after the Brewers/Reds game!

EXPRESS' matt helwig makes northwoods league all-star team

2022 Northwoods League All-Star game will be held on Tuesday July 19th at 7pm on Witter Field in Wisconsin Rapids.


EAU CLAIRE - Words/Photos by Branden Nall

Overcast skies and humidity rolled into Carson Park during game 2 of the Eau Claire Express vs Mankato Moondogs 2 game stint to start the second half of the season.

The Moondogs came out with bats hot in the 1st finding gaps early providing 2 hits with a pair of back-to-back singles to center and left field. The Express managed to close the inning with no one crossing the plate.

Lobbing one over the right field wall for a home run, Boston Merila of Mankato put the first point on the board followed by an RBI, 3 batters later, Simon Scherry helped add the 2nd tick of the inning.

The Express found themselves with their first run after a second base error allowed Max Coupe to touch home in the bottom of the 3rd. Making the score 2-1.

4 hits and 3 runs in the 5th inning were the last tally marks that would be made on the scoreboard for the Moondogs. The Express had other plans - they chipped away with 2 in the 5th, 2 in the 7th and 1 final run in the 8th to make the final score 6-5.

The Express are on a 4 game hot streak that finds them on the road for the next 4 games facing the Bismarck Larks. They make their way back to Carson Park on Tuesday to take on the first half champs, Duluth Huskies.

Will Rizzo of the Express waves during the game on July 7th in Eau Claire.
Photo by Branden Nall

Alec Baker pitches during the 1st inning on Wednesday in Eau Claire. Photo by Branden Nall

express take game 1, look for sweep

EAU CLAIRE - Words/Photos: Branden Nall

The second half of the Northwoods League season starts with the Express' smoke stakes blazing. A win on Wednesday night at Carson Park sealed 3 in-a-row putting them on top of the Great Plains East Division just a half game above Duluth for the full season.

Alec Baker's first pitch at 6:37 was followed by 5 great innings on the mound with some heat under the blue skies as the clouds dissipated. 92 and 93mph flashed on the outfield speed indicator during his offering.

The 3rd inning offered bats on balls for the Express with 3 runs on 3 separate at-bats coming from Rosengard, Haskins and the UW-Stout star - Szykowny.

A wild pitch from the Express in the 6th allowed 2 Moondogs to score which tallied to 3 after they posted 1 earlier in the night.

3-3 lingered on the board for only 1 inning as Haskins added another RBI on the night for the go-ahead run and closing out the game.

Tonight, the Express are back at Carson for round two against the Moondogs in their 2-game stint before headed on the road until next Tuesday where they are back at home for 4 games in-a-row against Duluth and the Rox. 4 definitive games in their July schedule.


The Eau Claire express open the second half of the season tonight at home against the Mankato Moondogs with a first pitch set for 6:35.

Coming off of a 2 game win streak against the St. Cloud Rox - the second best team in the Northwoods League - the Express are making their push into part 2 of the 2022 season. The Moondogs finished their first half with an identical 19-15 record as Eau Claire. The Moondogs are in the Great Plains West Division and the Express, the Great Plains East.

1st half stats: W L PCT GB STREAK LAST 10

19 15 .559 - 2 4-6

Photos by Branden Nall

3 ABOVE IMAGES: Granite Games on Saturday June 4th in Viking Lakes, Minnesota.

magic at run for the lights


Every November the Chippewa Falls Parks and Recreation Department holds, “Run For The Lights”. A 5K run that supports the famous Irvine Park Christmas Village and its massive display of holiday lights – which can possibly be seen from space. Almost 400 people make their way to Irvine including a young runner, Lydia Fish. Her family, endurance enthusiasts in different sports including biking, skiing, and running. Lydia, no stranger to the tarmac or the trail, ran cross country at a very high level that awarded her a State Cross Country Championship appearance. This experience was what it took for her to take home the win in her division, that afternoon at ‘Run for the Lights’.

The prize - a three-month membership to CrossFit Chippewa Falls. An award that she couldn't accept because she was a WIAA student athlete which prohibits prizes or gifts of value outside of a scholarship if the student wants to continue participating in any sport affiliated with WIAA.

The silver lining - her mom also won her division. The award was the same, which she could, and did, give to Lydia.

The endurance part was already in place when Lydia walked through the doors of CrossFit Chippewa Falls for the first time. Little did she know that she would become a member of the gym and fall in love with something completely new. CrossFit. -and maybe the two prompt greeters, Murph and Marston, the two pups that keep the place in check. Picking up heavy stuff and putting it back down – running with a weight vest – climbing a rope – jumping rope – rowing – jumping over and on things, now occupy 4-5 hours of her everyday life.

You can’t be a slacker if you want to reach your goals!”

Since the first day at the gym, the passion that ensued, Lydia has not just added some strength to her already great endurance but is better and fitter than most people her age, heck – any age.

Her first competition was the Rice Lake team competition. She and her squad sealed first place in the team event. Then Wodapalooza 2022, where she participated as an individual and placed sixth in the teen girls 16 to 18 division. Did I mention it was in, Florida. More specifically, Miami. Where she competed against the best of the best in, Crossfit!

Her most recent competition, The Granite Games. Held on June 3rd – 5th at Viking Lakes (Minnesota Vikings Training facility) just across the river in Eagan, Minnesota. The Granite Games is a CrossFit Games qualifying event for Elite Teams and Elite Individuals. The CrossFit Games are the ‘super bowl’ of the CrossFit world. Crowning the champions as ‘Fittest on Earth’.

Lydia competed in the Female AsRx Teams division, getting her feet wet on a big team stage. Competing with 2 other women from the Chippewa Valley, Courtney Becker and Caitlyn Spickler which made up Team LC2. The weekend’s 6 workouts kicked off with Friday morning with the Handstand Isabel Relay. This event has time cap of 10 minutes. Each competitor does 30, 80lb snatches and a 30 yard handstand walk before the next team member starts her set. They finished 3rd with a finish time of 0:7:16.48.

The rest of the weekend events netted them a final placement of 4th.

Just graduating on May 27th from Chi-Hi, Lydia plans on taking a year to hone her CrossFit skills before deciding on the direction she wants to go. If school is in the cards after that year – she is interested in Business, Accounting and Finance.

"She's a beast" -Brooklyn Sandvig, schoolmate.

As fierce as she is on the competition floor, she also maintains that dedication outside of the gym. She is competitive in just about everything and holds the mentality of “you can’t be a slacker if you want to reach your goals” as she so eloquently stated. She is a nanny, works for a local ice cream stop, is a waitress at a local restaurant and also teaches CrossFit to kids at CFCF. I’d say she is living that statement!

Lydia, follows CrossFit Mayhem’s Training plan from 9x CrossFit Champion Rich Froning and makes sure she couples that with eating as healthy as she can. Omitting dairy from the equation, she does her own grocery shopping to make sure she gets the foods she needs to fuel her body for performance and recovery. Her focus is on macros with an emphasis on protein – which she prefers to eat instead of drinking.

Overall, Lydia is on a path of infinite possibility with the glass ceiling that she keeps on shattering. Only 18 and full of spirit and drive, she has a mindset that will forge a path, as I foresee, in any direction she wants.

Helpful links to learn more about local stuff in the article:

Run for the Lights

Crossfit Chippewa Falls

Bob Johnson holds the 2022 WIAA Sectional Championship plaque at Carson Park on June 7th.


Eau Claire North High Baseball head coach of 17 years steps down.

307 wins. 79 losses.

That is a 25% loss record that spans throughout his career on the varsity baseball field. Johnson spent 28 years coaching, the last 17 with the Huskies. He created one of the best baseball programs in the state and it has shown in spades.

8 State Tournaments

9 Big Rivers Conference Championships

5x Division 1 coach of the year

WBCA Spring coach of the year

He also just completed his 30th year of teaching at Locust Lane Elementary in Eau Claire and will continue to do so.

Top: North Huskies Bob Johnson sits and watches his guys onthe field during the Sectional Final Baseball game against Stevens Point on June 7th in Eau Claire. Bottom: Bob Johnson at the mound for a discussion during the WIAA State Championships at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute on June 14th.