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Rhinelander's Francis focused on state championship goalsSubmitted: 08/23/2016

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RHINELANDER - For years, Kiah Francis has been outpacing her competition in the pool, but she owes her success to more than just talent.

"It's definitely her drive, like I said training on her own and being willing to drive an hour to Wausau all her life," said Rhinelander varsity swim coach Lindsay Byrka.


Francis takes those hour-long drives to Wausau to train with the Wausau Tide Swim Club. 

It's not uncommon for high school athletes to train or play for secondary teams, but for Francis, high school hasn't been part of the everyday routine.

"I'm home-schooled; I just take one class at the high school," said Francis.

And Francis has embraced the home schooling aspect of her life.

"I was able to go at my own pace and figure things out, and it really taught me independence, and I was able to swim on my own time," said Francis. "I kind of grew up around that and it's really been paying off, and I wouldn't have had it any other way."

And those benefits have helped her to become one of the best swimmers in Rhinelander history.

"She can swim anything," said Byrka. "She already has four varsity records that she broke last year, and I hope she can take down the other four this year."

Those other four records belong to Byrka herself, a former Rhinelander High School state champion.

But Francis has her sights set on something greater than her coach's records.

At last year's state meet, Francis narrowly lost a pair of races.

She says her goal this is year is to return to that stage and finish at the top of the podium this time.
"The goal is to win two state championships and also bring relays," said Francis.

Byrka says Francis is a favorite to win a state title.

"Kiah and I are on the same page that we want that state championship," said Byrka. "It's been a goal since she came into the program last year, and she was out-touched just barely by a couple of seniors. That makes her the person to beat this year."

The training to achieve that goal is certainly unique, showing everyone the kind of competitor Francis is.

"We get her to mix up her sets," Byrka said. "When the girls are doing freestyle, she'll race them in breaststroke. That's just the kind of person Kiah is--she doesn't care what is in the lane next to her. She wants to win."
 
Francis says she will continue swimming after high school for several reasons.

"I'm going to swim in college for sure. It will help me to get school paid for, and that's been the goal, that's kind of why I've been doing it, but I also love it," said Francis. "I love swimming, so being able to swim in college and get it paid for is a little extra."

Francis has gotten attention from several Division I programs such as the University of Nebraska and Liberty University in Virginia.

She and the Hodags begin their conference schedule next Tuesday at Lakeland Union High School.


Story By: Mark Spillane

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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RHINELANDER - The 2016 Rhinelander girl's tennis players are used to having success, having won six conference championships in a row.

That means they've won every Great Northern Conference title since joining the league in 2010.

And this year's squad has more championship experience than most.

"In a typical year, we usually have two to three seniors, and this is an unusual year because we have seven," said Rhinelander Head Tennis Coach Bob Heideman.

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EAGLE RIVER - All weekend long, anglers went musky fishing in Eagle River for the 31st National Championship Musky Open.

The cooler weather Sunday afternoon made for better fishing weather.

Usually the heat at the end of the summer changes things out on the water.

Warmer temps not only force fish deeper, it can also be hazardous to the fish's health.

"You catch a fish, fight it to fatigue and then you release it into the warm water with not much oxygen and then they might look like they swim away but they could end up being dead the next day, so there's delayed mortality," said angler Dave Vollmer.

All the rain the Northwoods saw on Saturday made conditions a little tricky.

There were nearly 1300 people signed up for the tournament.

"Yesterday was pretty brutal. It rained really hard almost all day long. We did get some action so that was pretty good. Today is a lot nicer so at least now we can focus a little more on other areas we didn't get a chance to get to yesterday," said fisherman Mike Maretti.

The open is the largest amateur musky tournament in the U-S and it takes place over seven lake families.

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EAGLE RIVER - The Eagle River derby track filled with UTV/ATV drivers on Sunday. Sometimes when watching them drive around, you can forget how much skill and physical toughness it takes to control the vehicles.

"You have to be in really good shape. Your forearms have to be in really good shape so you don't get forearm pump, your cardio has to be good, your core has to be strong so you can move around on the quad but not get off camber," said ATV-driver Kaden Woodie.

"Your upper body plays a big part in these because you're constantly wheeling back and forth. It is a lot of forearm, it does get exhausting. You're fighting 4-wheel drive so you're constantly just working your body back and forth," said UTV-driver Zach Szymik.

17-year-old Kaden Woodie recognizes the strength it takes to drive a UTV, but also knows the challenge of the ATV's.

"It's more physically demanding. Yeah, with a UTV it's a lot of upper body strength with overcorrecting and steering the car, but a quad is definitely a lot more with the physical abuse and the pounding and everything else," said Woodie.

One of the hardest parts of off-road driving are the jumps and landings. Being physically fit and the right positioning plays a major role.

"You really have to set yourself up so the landings are right so the machine does what you need it to do because if you just come into it and just hit it full tilt, you're going to go for a ride and it ain't going to be good. These are very very touchy. They're not like a 4-wheeler where you can pitch yourself in the air and make adjustments. When you go off a jump, you're at the mercy of the machine," said Szymik.

Even though the driving is tough, the friends and family made at the track makes it worth it.

"The race family, being around friends. Getting to do this with other people, some of my best friends are with me, so I really enjoy it. Winning is always a good part but sometimes that doesn't happen, but you have to take the good with the bad," said Woodie.

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Suring at Wabeno/LaonaSubmitted: 08/19/2016

WABENO - Suring at Wabeno/Laona

FINAL SCORE: Suring 13, Wabeno/Laona 7 IN OVER TIME

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Wausaukee at CrandonSubmitted: 08/19/2016

CRANDON - Wausaukee at Crandon

FINAL SCORE: Crandon 41, Wausaukee 0

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EAGLE RIVER - Wittenberg-Birnamwood at Northland Pines

FINAL SCORE:
Wittenberg-Birnamwood 13, Northland Pines 12

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Rhinelander vs. PrescottSubmitted: 08/19/2016

RHINELANDER - Rhinelander vs. Prescott at Mike Webster Stadium

FINAL SCORE: Rhinelander 27, Prescott 8

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 REGIONAL SPORTS

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THREE LAKES - Wisconsin Badger basketball fans know their team plays old-school, fundamental hoops.

It's something of a lost art, but high school coaches hope to bring it back.

So Monday former Badger basketball standout Brian Butch offered to help, teaching kids in Three Lakes the skills he focused on as a kid.

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GREEN BAY - The Packers completed their second week of organized team activities this past week.

Green Bay is using some new drills too.

That's because the wide receiving squad has a new coach.

Luke Getsy is using bricks, Nerf balls, and juggling as tools for drills.

The Packers wide receiving core struggled last year.

Randall Cobb thinks the new mentality will help.

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GREEN BAY - The 2016 NFL Draft wrapped up Saturday.

The Green Bay Packers added seven players to their team:

Round one: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Round two: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Round three: Kyler Fackrell, LB Utah St.
Round four: Blake Martinez, LB, Stanford; Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern
Round five: Trevor Davis, WR, California
Round six: Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford

The smallest player out of the group stands at 6'1"

Thompson says adding bulk was one of their goals.

"There are things you'd like to add to your team," says General Manager Ted Thompson. "Athletic ability, size, that sort of thing. We do think we were able to do that [Saturday]. You don't have to be big to play in the NFL, but it helps, and we were able to get some bigs on both sides of the ball."

It takes a lot of planning and focus to draft well, but Ted says the process is still far from over.

"It's easy to sit here and proclaim 'okay, everything's good,'" says Thompson. "Quite frankly, everything is just getting started. We've got an extraordinary amount of work and people to talk to and things to see over the course of the next 24-48 hours to get to the point where you start winding up the roster from the draft itself."

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MILWAUKEE - Adeiny Hechavarria had four hits, including one of four Miami solo home runs, to help the Marlins beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-5 on Saturday night.

Giancarlo Stanton, Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna also homered as Miami won its seventh consecutive game. It is the longest winning streak for Miami since it won seven consecutive games May 1-7, 2012. The Marlins are 12-11, the first time they have been over .500 since being 64-63 on Aug. 22, 2014.

Wei-Yin Chen (2-1) allowed three runs with two walks and four strikeouts one night after the team took a combined no-hitter into the ninth inning.

David Phelps pitched the ninth for his first save of the season.

Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson (1-3) had his third consecutive subpar outing, allowing six runs in just 4 1/3 innings.

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MILWAUKEE - Maikel Franco homered twice and Aaron Nola pitched seven strong innings as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 on Friday night.

The Phillies snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Brewers.

Franco hit a two-run home run in the fifth to give Philadelphia a 4-1 lead. He blasted a solo shot over the Brewers bullpen in left in the seventh to stake the Phillies to a four-run lead.

Nola (1-2) allowed four hits and retired 11 consecutive batters at one point and 16 of 17 to close out his outing.

Milwaukee starter Zach Davies (0-2) surrendered four runs and nine hits over six innings.

The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the first on Chris Carter's run-scoring single. The Phillies tied the game in the fourth on Darin Ruf's RBI single.

The Brewers added a run in the ninth on consecutive doubles by Carter and Aaron Hill.

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ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - Jaime Garcia pitched a one-hitter, allowing only Domingo Santana's lined single into right field with two outs in the sixth inning, as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-0 Thursday.

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MILWAUKEE - Jimmy Nelson struck out nine in six innings, and the Milwaukee Brewers took advantage of early wildness by Houston ace Dallas Keuchel in a 3-2 win over the Astros on Sunday.

The AL Cy Young Award winner walked four in the first inning and gave up a two-run single to Aaron Hill. Keuchel (1-1) left with two outs in the sixth with a career high-tying six walks, including an intentional pass to Ryan Braun in the fourth.

Domingo Santana added an RBI double in the fourth for rebuilding Milwaukee, which took two of three in the interleague series against the AL West contenders.

Nelson (1-1) settled down after allowing a leadoff homer to deep left to Jose Altuve on the game's first pitch. Jeremy Jeffress pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.

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