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Mootz scores six touchdowns to lead Merrill past Lakeland UnionSubmitted: 09/23/2017

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- Merrill's senior QB Zach Mootz threw for four TDs and ran for two more in the Blue Jays 44-6 win over Lakeland Union.

Merrill moves to 2-1 in the Great Northern Conference.

The Blue Jays will face Rhinelander at Mike Webster Stadium next Friday while the Thunderbirds will face Ashland at home.




Story By: Mark Spillane

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Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 LOCAL SPORTS

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ANTIGO - The Antigo Red Robins girls tennis team won its first ever Great Northern Conference title this afternoon. That means they snapped the Hodag's seven-year streak.

But the Hodags didn't go down easily. Antigo won the conference tournament by only three points.

Maya Gaedtke was named the conferences singles Player of the Year.

And Abby Robrecht and Taylor Arrowood won doubles players of the year after winning the doubles title.

Next up for Antigo and Rhinelander will be sub-sectionals on October 2nd.

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Friday Night Blitz 9-22-17Submitted: 09/22/2017

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NORTHWOODS - The Antigo Red Robins hosted Medford and Antigo won, 7-0.

Rhinelander went to Mosinee and the Indians took the W, 35-0.

Gogebic came down to Wisconsin to face Northland Pines. The Eagles won 20-14.

Crandon traveled to Wabeno to take on the Rebels. Crandon won 36-8.

Three Lakes/Phelps hosted Northern Elite and the Predators won, 34-8.



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WAUSAU - Northcentral Wisconsin reached nearly 80 degrees this week, but a group of hockey players enjoyed a cool, 32-degree day on the ice. 

The Wausau Riverwolves have started camp ahead of their inaugural season.

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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.

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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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