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Rhinelander swim team head coach resignsSubmitted: 09/21/2017
RHINELANDER - Lindsay Byrka set records as a swimmer at Rhinelander High School.

Over the past few years, she's taken that success and spread it to her athletes as the head girls' and boys' swim coach at Rhinelander.

But this week, Byrka resigned from her position.

A school district press release says she refused the salary set by the school board and wouldn't sign her contract.


Byrka was in the middle of her third season as head coach for the girls' and boys' teams.

Superintendent Kelli Jacobi confirmed that Byrka will no longer coach the girls' or boys' teams, but Byrka says she has not yet stepped down as the boys' coach.

The school says it is in the process of moving forward with a search for a new head coach.

Byrka told Newswatch 12 she wouldn't talk on camera at this time.

Story By: Katie Leszcynski

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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WAUSAU - On Saturday, we told you about the success that Northwoods teams had at the annual Smiley Invitational in Wausau. At that meet, Three Lakes' Jared Zwettler and Kortnie Volk both finished in the top 10 in the Division 2 & 3 race.

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MOSINEE - Team results for GNC Volleyball Tournament #1:

Mosinee 3-0
Antigo 2-1
Medford 2-1
Pines 1-1
Tomahawk 1-2
Rhinelander 0-2
Lakeland 0-2

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WAUSAU - Wausau East's annual Smiley Invitational cross country meet celebrated it's 61st anniversary today. Between the three divisions, there were nearly 60 teams and over 450 runners.

That included several Northwoods teams.

Some notable finishes were Northland Pines, Rib Lake/Prentice  and Tomahawk all having girls in the top 20 in D2 and D3.

Phillips, Tomahawk, Northland Pines and Mosinee all had great boys finishes in D2 and D3 as well.

Rhinelander's Alayna Franson finished in the top 20 for the D1 girls race.

But the best finish of the day was Lakeland Union's Kav FitzPatrick.

The team ran in Division 1 and FitzPatrick won the Smiley Invite for the first time.

He had a time of 15:42 which beat his personal best by 14 seconds. That was a D1 small school course record, as well as a Lakeland Union school record.

He says a big meet like that really pushes him against some tough competition.

"I think this is just a big stepping stone again towards state, and hopefully beyond that. I'm excited to run this well here, so early in the season because I think it's promising for later in the year," said FitzPatrick.

Lakeland finished 8th overall. Ashley Peterson finished 6th for the T-Birds as well.

Three Lakes' top runners, Jared Zwettler and Kortnie Volk finished in the top ten in the D2 and D3 races.


For a full list of the results, follow the link below.

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Friday Night Blitz - 9/15/17Submitted: 09/15/2017

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NORTHWOODS - Antigo tops Rhinelander 48-7 to win the Red Robins' 11th straight Bell Game.

Mosinee scores 50 on the road to defeat Lakeland 50-34.

Auburndale defeats Tomahawk 20-13 in Tomahawk.

Crandon topples Florence 51-6 at home.

Three Lakes/Phelps defeats Elcho/White Lake 38-22 in Three Lakes.

Hurley runs away from Northland Pines 46-32.

Check out all these highlights and more on Friday Night Blitz!

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FLORENCE - Elcho volleyball is 4-0 so far this season, which is on pace to win the Northern Lakes conference two years in a row.

"We didn't want it to just be a one year thing, we wanted to do it again," said Elcho senior, Grace Palubicki.

But Florence is also 4-0 so far this season. The two teams saw each other in conference play and again in the regional final last year.

"They beat us twice in the actual conference games, but when it came to regionals, we actually beat them," said Florence senior, Alicia Gehlhoff.

There is a little bit of rivalry between the two. Winning conference was new to Elcho, but it wasn't new to Florence. They tied for conference in 2015 with Laona/Wabeno.

"It was all seniors, and then me the sophomore," said Florence senior, Shayla McLain.

Instead of taking home half the title, they now want it all.

"I think we can make it farther than we did that year. Even though we don't have as many seniors, we have a lot of talent," said McLain.

H ow do you take that kind of pressure, when you're only halfway through the season?

"We always look at each game as a different game," said Palubicki.

The Hornets graduated a lot of great players last year and this season, they only have three seniors. Which means leadership is key.

"We all knew we had to step up a little bit and it's really nice to have the underclassmen understand that and try their hardest and hustle all the time," said Elcho senior, Jessica Slowik.

That hustle is something the seniors want the team to continue to do once they're gone.

"Build up all the players and positions so that way when we graduate, they'll still have a nice base to work with," said Slowik.

Florence, Crandon, White Lake and Elcho all played Thursday night in Florence. Elcho beat White Lake and Florence beat Crandon. But then Florence beat Elcho in five sets

Elcho is now 5-1 and Florence is in first place in the NLC with a 6-0 record.

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WAUSAU - Wausau's Sylvan Hill Park looks different than in the past.

"It opens up a whole new set of skills and to be honest, it's just fun for the kids to come out and do something different for a night or two of practice," said biker, Scott Anderson.

There is now a mountain biking park after four years of planning.

"This is really a partnership with the city, kind of fueled by our passion," said Jahn Martin, who's a part of CWOCC.

The Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition, or CWOCC, worked with the city and parks department to build a track that's quite unique.

"It's totally different. It's downhill, flowing, more of an adrenaline rush type of ride," said rider, Katie Mahoney.

The park has different loops, all built for different skill levels. Mahoney is happy to have a place to challenge herself to try new things on her two wheels.

"[I'm] Learning to use my bike in a different way. Hitting jumps and stuff, I'm just learning to do that so it's exciting, I'm learning new skills!" said Mahoney.

All of those new skills became possible because of CWOCC. 

The trail is funded entirely by the community, which took a little more than $200,000. But seeing the excitement behind the new facility makes it all worth it.

"CWOCC has done a fantastic job growing cycling and mountain biking specifically and trail building and stewardship," said Anderson.

And you never know who you'll meet at the park. It's one of the only kind like it in the Midwest, which they're hoping will bring in more visitors to central Wisconsin.

"I was in Colorado the other week doing downhill mountain biking on ski runs and this is very similar. Like 'whoa, we have this in Wausau, Wisconsin? That's pretty amazing'," said Mahoney.

The park took about seven weeks to create and it opened at the end of August. There will be an official ribbon cutting ceremony at 4 P.M. on Tuesday, September 26th.

The park is located at 3298 Coates Lane, Wausau. It is behind the Horace Mann Middle School.

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RHINELANDER - Jonus Sabani scored twice and assisted on another goal as Rhinelander seized control of first place in the Great Northern Conference.

Medford also moved to 3-1 with a win over Antigo.

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WABENO - If you're looking for a team that's off to a great start this year, look no further than Laona/Wabeno. The Rebels got conference win number two on Friday with running back Tristian Immel leading the way.

"He's fast, he's a 4.6 type of runner, and when he comes the other way, he's quick," said Laona/Wabeno Head Coach Dan Moravec.

That speed helped Immel and the Rebels roll to a 52-0 win over Three Lakes/Phelps. That was thanks in large part to the senior's three touchdowns and 150 total yards, including one TD on a punt return.

"To win sometimes, if you get lucky to have a punt return, defense, interception here. All phases of the game have to win, and he does it all," said Moravec.

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MERCER - Plenty of small town high school football teams struggle with numbers. Many teams have trouble competing while others can't field a team at all. That's why some squads have turned from 11-man to eight-man football.

One of those teams is the Phillips Loggers. The Loggers turned to the eight man game this year after recent struggles. The Loggers skipped their varsity seasons in 2014 and 2015, and a return to the Marawood Conference varsity schedule resulted in a winless 2016 season.

That's when the team and the community convinced the school board to approve the change. The Loggers have won twice and lost twice through four games in 2017.

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Friday Night Blitz - 9/8/17Submitted: 09/08/2017

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NORTHWOODS - Medford dominates Rhinelander to earn a 36-7 win.

Merrill tops Wausau East 48-7.

Antigo rolls over Lakeland Union 47-8.

Laona/Wabeno defeats Three Lakes/Phelps 52-0.

Check out those highlights and more on this week's Friday Night Blitz!

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