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Featured Athletes of the Week: Jessica and Katelyn SlowikSubmitted: 02/19/2018

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ELCHO - Elcho girls basketball went 33 years without winning a conference title. Then the Hornets claimed back-to-back Northern Lakes championships in 2017 and 2018. That's thanks in large part to a pair of sisters.

"She can read my mind before I can even tell what's going on and vice versa," said Elcho senior Jessica Slowik.

"I don't even know how to explain it. It just happens," said Elcho sophomore Katelyn Slowik.

Whatever the explanation might be, the Slowik sisters make the Elcho Hornets tough to beat.


"[With] both of the girls on the court is when we are the strongest," said Elcho Head Coach Michelle Kincaid.

That's partly because of their different styles.

"We call [Katelyn] little because she is little and she's very, very speedy," said Kincaid.

"Jess is a little more laid back. She looks at the game a little bit differently, she lets the game come to her a little bit more," said Kincaid.

Jessica thinks it gives her and Katelyn a nice balance.

"I let her take the more aggressive aspect, so diving after the ball, getting the loose rebounds, and I'm kind of there to back her up with the shot," said Jessica Slowik.

Statistically, they're two of the best. Both players are top five in the conference in points, assists and steals. But off the floor they make a different kind of impact.

"They are great leaders around the school," said Kincaid. "They do it in the classroom. They're honor students."

Katelyn says she tries to be like her sister both on and off the basketball court.

"Following Jessica is just like setting a goal to be as great as her and having someone that I can always count on," said Katelyn Slowik.

On the court, they'll keep counting on each other, in a way that only they can.

"We just have that special bond on the floor that's really hard to have with other teammates. We just get each other," said Jessica Slowik.

The Hornets are a No. 2 seed n the D5 playoffs. They'll host the winner of Florence and Lena on Friday.

Story By: Mark Spillane

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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NORTHWOODS - Below is a complete breakdown of where the Northwoods teams are seeded for the upcoming WIAA boys basketball playoffs. The seeds were determined on Sunday February, 18. The first round games will be played Tuesday February, 27.

Great Northern Conference

Rhinelander - No. 1 seed D2 Sectional 1
Medford - No. 9 seed D2 Sectional 1
Mosinee - No. 4 seed D2 Sectional 1
Lakeland Union - No. 3 seed D2 Sectional 1
Antigo - No. 10 seed D2 Sectional 1
Tomahawk - No 12 seed D3 Sectional 2
Northland Pines - No. 10 seed D3 Sectional 2

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS -
Last year, the Hodags came in second in the conference (small schools division) by one point. They wanted to change that this year.

"We came in to this meet feeling fairly confident just because we've had a really good season and we came in undefeated," said junior Raven Sturtevant.

Coaches Heather Sturtevant and April Denis made sure the girls didn't get too confident along the way.

"Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and think 'oh, we've got this in the bag', but they keep us in 'don't get ahead of yourselves', just focus on the now," said junior Mikayla Evenstead.

That meant focusing on the goal the team set, and almost reached.

"Our goal this conference meet was to get 120 and we got 119," said senior Stephanie Keuster.

Mosinee came in second with a score of 113.475. That score showed just how much their team is improving.

"This last Tuesday, we got our last team high with a 108 and this meet was just points above that which was really relieving," said junior Lydia Ruthe.

Junior Lydia Ruthe took the top spot in the all-around, just ahead of Keuster and Sturtevant for Rhinelander.

"I thought that I was going to get third, but I think my bar score and vault score really helped me come out on top there," said Ruthe.

Mosinee head coach Kris Schlei won coach of the year for the small schools division. That was voted on by the other coaches. But the team couldn't agree more.

"My team is really great, we're really supportive of each other and I think that's the best part," said Ruthe.

The Indians will see the Hodags again this Thursday at the sectional meet in Antigo.

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WAUSAU - Last week five Rhinelander wrestlers captured regional championships. On Saturday, all five of those Hodags punched their tickets to the state tournament. Tyler Olson, Jacob DeMeyer and Alec Kurtz won each won their respective weight classes at the Division 1 Wausau West sectional.

Reuben Guzik and Colton Krueger also advanced to state. Olson and Krueger will make their first appearances in Madison. Olson says he's excited to finish his wrestling career with the teammates it started with.

"That's just the greatest experience that I think anybody could ever ask for, knowing that I grew up with these guys. I've wrestled with [Jacob] DeMeyer and [Alec] Kurtz ever since I was pee-wee size, you know kindergarten. This is my 13th year and this is their 13th year," said Olson.

Krueger advanced to the state tournament after a close loss in the sectional final. He says he's not satisfied with just getting there.


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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - The Rhinelander gymnastics team also won big on Saturday. The team took the Great Northern Conference small school's title in Wisconsin Rapids.

They beat out Mosinee, Medford, Chequamegon and Lakeland Union.

Junior Raven Sturtevant took first team all conference after winning the beam competition. And senior Stephanie Keuster also took first team all conference with her floor exercise.

Keuster wasn't able to compete in conference last year because of an injury, but was happy to be back on top.

"It feels good to be back this year. I'm doing a lot better in my routines this year and I'm having more fun this year than I did last year or sophomore year. We did win conference sophomore year, so it's kind of like a repeat from sophomore year to senior year and it feels really good," said Keuster.

Mosinee's Lydia Ruthe took first place in the all around in the small schools division.

And then Antigo's Emma Jansen did the same thing in the big schools division.

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Friday Night Blitz: 2/16/18Submitted: 02/17/2018

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NORTHWOODS - On this week's Friday Night Blitz we have updates from the state swim meet, playoff hockey and crucial basketball games around the area.

BOYS BASKETBALL
Rhinelander: 56 Antigo: 36
Tomahawk: 60 Crandon: 64
Northland Pines: 49 Medford: 76
Chequamegon: 43 Athens: 65
Stratford: 56 Marathon: 62
Rib Lake: 71 Phillips: 59
Abbotsford: 55 Prentice: 57
Wisconsin Rapids: 70 DC Everest: 51
SPASH: 72 Wausau East: 45
Marshfield: 62 Wausau West: 37

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MADISON - The Lakeland Union swimmers took home a fourth place team finish.

Take a look at the recap.

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NORTHWOODS - HOCKEY HIGHLIGHTS:

#3 Antigo defeats #6 De Pere 6-3
#2 Northland Pines takes down #7 Rhinelander 10-0

Rhinelander boys swim team will compete at the state meet Friday night. Hear how they're feeling before the big night.

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 REGIONAL SPORTS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Nick Foles went back-and-forth with Tom Brady and the defense came through with a turnover when they needed a stop.

The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions for the first time in franchise history thanks to a backup quarterback who had another spectacular game and a strip-sack by Brandon Graham after the defense let Brady have his way for most of Sunday night.

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MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Green Bay Packers are promoting director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst to be the team's next general manager, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The person requested anonymity because the team has made no formal announcement. Gutekunst would replace Ted Thompson, who is transitioning to a senior advisory role in the front office.

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GREEN BAY - Aaron Rodgers is done for the season.

The Green Bay Packers put their star quarterback on injured reserve Tuesday, a day after they were eliminated from playoff contention.

Rodgers missed seven games after breaking his right collarbone Oct. 15 against Minnesota. He returned on Sunday, but the Packers lost 31-24 at Carolina. Atlanta's win against Tampa Bay on Monday night ended Green Bay's eight-year run of consecutive postseason berths.

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GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers is getting ready to play against the Carolina Panthers this weekend.

Rodgers was medically cleared to return from a collarbone injury on Tuesday night.

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GREEN BAY (AP) - Aaron Jones' 20-yard touchdown run on his only carry, with 5:59 left in overtime, gave the Green Bay Packers a 26-20 win Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With the passing game struggling, Green Bay (6-6) wore down the Buccaneers on the ground. Brett Hundley had runs of 18 and 7 yards on the drive to start overtime.

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NEW YORK - Alabama and Clemson are back on top of the College Football Playoff rankings, the ninth time over the last three seasons that the Crimson Tide and Tigers have held the first two spots in some order.

Alabama was the selection committee's new No. 1 on Tuesday night, with Clemson up two spots to No. 2. Miami and Oklahoma followed, joining the top four for the first time this season. Wisconsin was fifth and Auburn was up to sixth.

Alabama and Clemson have met in the last two national championship games, with each winning one. If they win out, there is good chance they could enter the postseason positioned to make it three straight title game matchups.

The Crimson Tide had been second behind Georgia in the first two selection committee rankings, but the Bulldogs and previously No. 3 Notre Dame were beaten last weekend, opening up the top for changes.

Unbeaten Miami jumped from seventh to third and along with Clemson gave the Atlantic Coast Conference two top-four teams for the first time in the four-year College Football Playoff era.

Oklahoma moved up one spot.

Unbeaten Wisconsin moved up from eighth and is the highest-ranked Big Ten team. Auburn is the highest-ranked team with two losses.

Georgia is seventh and Notre Dame is eighth.

Ohio State is back in the top 10 after an impressive victory against Michigan State, and Penn State is 10th. Southern California at 11th is the highest-ranked Pac-12 team.

UCF climbed to No. 15, making the undefeated Knights the highest-ranked team from a Group of Five conference. The highest-ranked conference champion from outside the Power Five is guaranteed a spot in the New Year's Six bowls.

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NEW YORK - Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season.

Oklahoma and Ohio State were the next two in the selection committee's initial top 25. The final rankings that will determine the participants in the College Football Playoff semifinals come out Dec. 3.

Over the first three seasons of the playoff, a total of five teams have been ranked in the top four of the initial ranking and gone on to reach the semifinals: Florida State (which was second) in 2014; Clemson (first) and Alabama (fourth) in 2015; and Alabama (first) and Clemson (second) in 2016.

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