There is plenty to look forward to for the 2019 Rhinelander High School track season as they return a number of their top athletes paired with a increased number of athletes and they also drop to Division 2 this season. The coaching staff and Hodag athletes are optimistic the change means more competitive success when it comes to WIAA playoff time.
The RHS track numbers continue to climb as they have approximately 60 athletes out for the start of the 2019 season. They also have a number of top returning experience and have plenty of competitive underclassmen eager to begin their indoor competition season. Last season the RHS boys' finished 5th in the GNC while the girls' placed 7th. Lakeland and Medford earned first and second in the conference in both the boys' and girls' division last season.
Rhinelander returns six all-conference athletes on the boys' side that includes a pair of sectional qualifiers; senior Josh Francisco and junior Peyton Erikson. Francisco placed seventh at sectionals in the 100-meter dash and Erikson finished sixth in the triple jump. The boys' will return a good portion of their team but will look to fill the void of hurdler Alex Monk who graduated.
Also returning is the boys' Great Northern Conference-champion team in the 4x100 which included Francisco, Anthony Kowalski, AJ Kopplin, and Nick Kriesel. Erikson also was GNC champ in the triple jump. While junior Drake also earned all-conference for the Hodags in triple jump and shot put.
Alex Olson will also be back for RHS after finished seventh in the discus in the GNC last season. Ben Sinclair, Chase Redmond, and Connor Lund will also be competing in the field events for the Hodags.
Along with Rhinelander’s experience they bring back they also have a number of freshman looking to make an early impact. In the sprint drills, freshman Caleb has made early strides and had the second best 40-yard dash average behind senior Francisco after the first few days of practice.
On the girls' side, Rhinelander lost their only all-conference athlete Lexie Rick along with sprinter Ellen Pagett to graduation. But just like the boys' side, the RHS girls' return a number of experienced athletes along paired with a number of underclassman for the upcoming season.
Sophomore Rebecca Lawrence returns after finishing fourth in the conference in the high jump with a height of 4-10. While in the girls’ throwing, Rhinelander returns everyone except Rick including Olivia Turgeon, Jackie Wells, and Shawna Will.
Lexi Morrison will compete in long distance and Isabella Anderson will return for sprints after finishing 11th in the GNC last year. Also returning will be Mattia Beske and Samantha Siefert. The girls' side also has a number of freshman including Sage Flory and Emma Germain who look to make an early impact on the team.
Rhinelander will kick off their 2019 indoor season on Thursday when they travel to Wisconsin Rapids for an invite. It will be a nice opening point to see where the team stands as they prepare for their outdoor season. RHS will have four indoor meets this season including the GNC Indoor at Northland Pines on March 26th.The Hodags first outdoor meet is slated for April 11th at Medford.
The Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team had a stellar night shooting three-pointers, but still came up short and was knocked out of the playoffs on Friday at Wausau East. The Lumberjacks won 71-65 in the Division 2 WIAA Regional Semifinals match to advance to the regional finals.
Senior Junior Howard would surpass his career-high scoring record he set on Tuesday night and finished the night with 32 points that included eight of the teams' season-best of 17 triples of the night.
It was rocky start for the Hodags' offense early in the contest before they started connected from outside. Junior Drake Martin was the first to score on the night inside before the Lumberjacks responded with seven unanswered points. It also was one of few inside baskets for Rhinelander on the night.
Rhinelander answered on a 21-8 run that included seven of their eight first-half triples to take a 23-15 lead. Howard connected on two of those threes on the run while junior Peyton Erikson, sophomore Quinn Lamers, sophomore Ross Skeen, and senior Neil Mathews all also connected from outside.
East's 6'5" junior forward Gabe Krueger followed with back-to-back three-point plays to cut Rhinelander's lead to one. From there it went back and forth. RHS went on a 9-4 run in the final five minutes that included a pair of three's from Skeen and a steal and transition basket from Howard.
That put RHS up 32-28 but with only 6.2 seconds left in the half, East drew a foul while being in bonus and Trey Buchberger hit both free-throws. The Hodags held a 32-30 lead at the break and would hold Krueger to just five points in the first 18-minutes.
The Lumberjacks started the second half on a 7-1 run where senior Forrest Kronberger scored inside twice and fellow senior Ryan LaCerte hit a triple from the baseline. But Rhinelander continued to hit their outside shots to keep them within striking distance. Howard had two early three's and Skeen added another midway through the half to give RHS a 47-45 lead.
From there, the Lumberjacks pulled ahead for good with a 12-2 run. Krueger scored eight of those 12 points on three baskets inside the paint and a pair of free throws.
After another three from Howard with just over four minutes left, RHS got within five, but East took advantage of their bonus free throws down the stretch. The Lumberjacks final 12 points of the night came from the line as they held off Howard and the Hodags to earn the 71-65 win.
The Hodags' defense gave up 41 points in the second half to Wausau East and Krueger led the way with a double-double of 25 points, 15 rebounds on the night. The Lumberjacks had three other players score in double-digits; Jake Kane had 12 points, Kronberger added 11 points, and Buschberger charted 10 points.
Howard finished with a career and game-high of 32 points, scoring 24 points alone in the second half. Skeen added 12-points that included three triples. Rhinelander had four seniors on their roster, including two starters they will lose for next season; Howard and Schickert. They will also lose Mathews who hit two triples in their final contest and forward Patrick Stone. RHS finished the year 10-13 overall.
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