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North America's Native Sport Coming to Rhinelander?
By Mark LaCrosse - Posted on 11/15/2019
Photo By HodagSports.com Staff
     If JWMS science teacher Luke Statz sparks enough interest, Rhinelander could play its first lacrosse game in the Northwoods in the spring of 2021.
     Boys and girls lacrosse is currently the fastest growing high school sport in the United States. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of schools sponsoring lacrosse teams grew almost 28 percent. Over the last 10 years it has grown more than 80 percent. Between 2006 and 2017, the number of boys participating grew from 96,000 to 189,000.
     Lacrosse is sort of a mash-up of a bunch of different sports, with the same scoring in a net concept as soccer, the utilization of a stick like hockey, the running and sprinting of cross-country and track, respectively, and the physicality of football, to a certain degree.
Often coined "the fastest game on two feet", Lacrosse has its origins in a tribal game played by eastern Woodlands Native Americans and by some Plains Indians tribes in what is now the United States of America and Canada. The game was extensively modified by European colonizers to North America to create its current collegiate and professional form.
     Mr. Statz was exposed to lacrosse as a member of the Wausau Wolfpack lacrosse program, a co-op team with students from Wausau East and Wausau West. The Wolfpack entered the Wisconsin Lacrosse Federation in 2005, and has grown from 30 players their first year, to a full varsity and junior varsity program. In 2009 a youth program began and now has over 100 participants called the Wolfpups. In 2014, a girls program formed and has also grown in numbers. In 2010 DC Everest fielded a team and SPASH entered play in 2016.
     Statz was a midfielder for Wausau during their 5 year run as Bay Valley conference champions. In 2008 Wausau was the state championship runner up, losing to Hartland Arrowhead 7-5. Luke also played college lacrosse at UW Stout and UWSP. His love for the game has provided the incentive to bring lacrosse to the northwoods area. "I feel the interest is here, and the improvement in the facilities (turf field and dome) make Rhinelander high school an ideal place to start a team", said Statz.
     In addition to the available facilities, the resources are in place. US Lacrosse has grown into a national powerhouse in helping programs to start and grow, offering startup programs and equipment grants. The Wisconsin Lacrosse Federation which oversees schedules, coaching programs and a state tournament was formed in 2005. The WLF provides information on coaching opportunities, clinics, and officiating. "I also have my former high school lacrosse coach right here in town who will act as my advisor. He was recently inducted into the Wisconsin High School Lacrosse Hall of Fame", said Statz.
     "The first steps will be holding a player interest meeting, and then proceed by meeting with our district athletic director. Hopefully we could start some intramural play this spring", said Statz.
You can contact Mr. Statz at statzluk@rhinelander.k12.wi.us
Resource Links:
www.uslacrosse.org, www.wisconsinlacrosse.com, https://www.facebook.com/WolfpackLax2005/
Hodag Swim wins Sectional Title
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 11/11/2019
Photo By *
Team photos: Submitted Additional photos: HodagSports staff
The Rhinelander High School girls' swim team pulled out a thriller on Saturday evening as they won the Wisconsin Rapids WIAA Division 2 Sectional title by only one point over Rice Lake. RHS won five events and it marked the girls' first sectional title in 15 years and set three varsity records in the process.

The meet went right down to the wire, as the Hodags had a nine-point advantage going into the final event of the night, the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Hodags relay team finished in seventh as they had to wait about five minutes to hear the news and celebrate earning the sectional crown as well as sending seven entries on to state.

It was a close battle throughout the night, with Rice Lake and River Falls holding early leads after the results of the diving competition the night prior. The top four finishers; Rhinelander, Rice Lake, Wausau East, and River Falls were only separated by seven points in the 14-team field. GNC rivals Lakeland placed sixth and Ladysmith Co-op finished seventh. Medford, Wittenberg-Birnamwood, Tomahawk, Colby/Abbotsford, Antigo, and Mosinee finished the last six spots (9th-14th).

Rhinelander had a strong start to the night and kicked off the opening swimming event, winning the 200-yard medley relay. The team of junior Lisa Kennedy, sophomore Malia Francis, junior Makenna Winnicki, and sophomore Noelle St. Pierre edged Merrill by 1.84 seconds. The Hodags also set a new varsity record by 2.43 seconds with a time of 1:49.65 that dated back to 1995.

Winnicki also added a pair of individual wins on the day in the 200- individual medley and the 500-freestyle, in both events she was able to better her seed time. First in the 200-IM beat out River Falls senior Sydney Fleming by 1.03 seconds to touch the wall first at 2:13.60 and bettered her seeded time by 4.07 seconds. Teammate Kennedy took fourth in the IM at 2:19.94 but missed the state cutoff pace.

Then in the 500 free, Winnicki shaved off 11.25 seconds off her seeded time to pull passed Merrill senior Trinity Kanitz with a winning time of 5:19.71. In another automatic state berth, Winnicki finished 2.46 seconds ahead of Kanitz. Sophomore Maria Heck finished seventh in the 500 for the Hodags as well.

Francis also charted a pair of individual wins to earn automatic berths to state and beat her own school records in both the 100-buttefly and the 100-backstroke. First in the 100-fly, Francis beat out Wausau junior Emma Clifford by 1.05 seconds to finish at 57.54 seconds, 0.19 seconds better than her seeded time.

And in the 100-back, Francis beat out Medford junior Erin Bergman by 2.45 second, winning with a time of 56.43 seconds (0.57 seconds quicker than her seeded time). Kennedy finished fourth in the 100-back (1:00.18) and will also head back to state for RHS with 11th-quickest time in the state.

The the 200-freestyle relay proved to be one of the most competitive in D2 with the top-seven finishers at Rapids making the cutoff to advance to state out of four sectionals (D2). The Hodag team of Winnicki, Francis, Kennedy, and St. Pierre placed fourth on the day at 1:41.27 but proved to be the eighth fastest in the state. Rice Lake finished first at 1:40.24 followed by Lakeland and Merrill.

Rhinelander's first lead of the night came after a 3-8 finish in the 100-yard breaststroke. St. Pierre placed third at 1:10.94 but missed the state cutoff by one sport and only 0.18 seconds. McGuire recorded an eighth place finish which help give the Hodags the lead going into the final event of the night.

The Hodags' 400-free relay team of Heck, freshman Genna Fugle, sophomore Sierra Woodford, and McGuire maintained their seed and finished seventh which proved to be crucial in the final event. RHS clocked in at 4:01.38 and would hold on to earn the one-point victory at the Rapids Sectional. Wausau East was seeded fourth but one the 400-free followed by Lakeland, Rice Lake, and River Falls.

The top four teams at the Rapids sectional were only separated by seven points with Rhinelander ahead with 264 points. Rice Lake was runner-up with 263 points followed by Wausau East (257.5), and River Falls (257 points). RHS will now shift their focus to the state meet where they have seven entries. It also marks the sixth consecutive year that Hodags sent at least one swimmer on to state. Winnicki will be making her third straight appearance. The D2 state finals will begin at 6:30PM at the Natatorium at UW-Madison campus. Rhinelander is seeded in the top eight in six of their events and will need a top-six finish to reach the podium.
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