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2017 RHS Track Preview
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 03/20/2017
Photo By HodagSports.com Staff
The Rhinelander High School track and field team made strides in the 2016 season, and one of their main goals was to increase their number of athletes to strengthen the program for the future. And for the 2017 season, it looks like have done just that. Along with solid numbers, they also have a new head coach.

Coach Chris Ferge will be the boys' head coach for the 2017 season, marking his third straight season. But the biggest change will be Brittany Haakenson will now be the girls' head coach. This change will allow each coach to focus on fewer athletes throughout the season.

Last season the RHS girls finished fifth in the Great Northern Conference, while the boys finished last in the conference. Despite the teams' finishes in the GNC standings, the Hodags were able to send four athletes to the WIAA sectionals. But a tough sectional lineup, RHS would not send any athletes to the WIAA state meet for the first time in seven seasons.

This season the RHS track team has their numbers up, nearing around 70 athletes and they will be working on developing some young inexperienced varsity athletes, while building on some returning athletes. They are also striving for more of a team mentality rather than individual, in hopes of advancing more athletes in the WIAA regional and sectional meets. 

In 2016 the RHS girls' advanced to sectionals in three different events and lost Eva O'Melia to graduation. O'Melia competed in the 800 and was also part of the 4x800 meter relay.

Three of the 4x800 relay members will be return though including Alayna Franson, Gracie Quinn, and Payton Hartman. 

Junior Franson also qualified for the 1,600, but would end up 13.08 seconds shy of the state qualifying time. Franson is a two-spring sport athlete, who also plays soccer for the Hodags.

The Hodags will also return junior Lexie Rick (shot put, discus), Ellen Padgett and Erika Jorgenson (sprints) for the 2017 season.

While on the boys' side of action, the Hodags are slightly less experienced at the varsity level and had no sectional qualifiers; the closest was graduate Eric Tracy. Like the girls', the boys’ also have several underclassmen, as well as several new athletes. 

Colton Krueger will be returning for Rhinelander and will look to help the Hodags in the hurdles as well as shot put this season. While A.J. Kopplin looks to lead the Hodags in the high jump and Anthony Kowalski in the 400.

Rhinelander added a meet during spring break in Wisconsin Rapids where they only competed with 15 athletes due to Thursday in a quadrangular meet which also included Rapids, Port Edwards, and Reedsburg. Each team was allowed unlimited entries in each event and was scored through the top five places.

With Rhinelander track increasing their number of athletes, the 2017 season looks to be a promising rebuilding season. With several experienced athletes returning to lead the way, the Hodags will look to start and finish the season strong.

The Hodags will compete in their first actual invitational on Tuesday for an indoor meet held at Lakeland Union High School. The Hodags will be up against Lakeland, Edgar, Mercer, Three Lakes, and Wausau Newman in the invite that starts at 4:15PM.
East knocks out Hodags in Regional Finals
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 03/06/2017
Photo By *
The Rhinelander High School boys' basketball was able to break a three-year losing streak in playoffs after defeating Merrill the previous night, but the Hodags fell short on the road against Wausau East as they saw their 2016-2017 season come to an end.

Rhinelander fell 59-53 after the Lumberjacks went on an 11-0 run to start the second half with a combination of RHS turnovers, foul trouble, and outside shots not falling late in the game. Senior guard Reeve Craig picked up to hand-check fouls within the first two minutes of the game, which limited his time on the court.

The Hodags started strong with an 8-2 run, which included two triples from Brad Comer and an inside bucket from Owen White. East would respond back with 11 unanswered points and would then maintain the lead for the rest of the game.

RHS finally broke the streak at 6:52 left in the first half, when White was fouled and finished the three-point play. The Lumberjacks would extend their lead to 17-11 after senior Thomas Dunbar scored inside and sophomore Chris Nash hit a baseline jumper.

Brad Quade then found Matt Reinthaler for a three-pointer to give the Hodags some momentum. Wausau East's Coach Paul Dimka then received a technical foul with 1:58 left in the half. White connected on both free throws and would hit a contested three at the buzzer to pull the Hodags within two at 22-24.

The Lumberjacks started the second half with back-to-back triples. The first coming off an offensive rebound, and senior Matt Tuman connected. And senior Michael LaPree followed the next possession with another shot beyond the arc. Nash followed up with a drive inside for East's largest lead of the night at 35-22.

Midway through the second half, the Hodags would chip away at the Lumberjacks lead with the help of several offensive rebounds and putbacks. Sophomore Junior Howard, senior Easton Senoraske, and White all finished inside off rebounds.

Comer and Reinthaler continued to find open looks outside and each connected to put the Hodags down by seven at 36-43. But Rhinelander didn’t have an answer for 6'6" senior Sawyer Schlindwein, who would extend the lead again with two straight buckets inside.

The Hodags were able to take advantage of some bonus free throws late in the second half, with both Quade and White going 2-for-2 from the line. Comer would then connect on his fourth triple of the night to pull Rhinelander with three at 47-50 with just over three minutes left in the game.

But that would be the closest RHS would get and both Craig and White fouled out of the contest. Wausau East would hold on to earn the 59-53 regional final win and advance to the first round of sectionals on Thursday.

East finished the night with three players in double digits. Schlindwein led the Lumberjacks with 17 points and Dunbar finished the night with 14. Tuman added 10 points in the win, and LaPree chipped in nine.

The Hodags committed 14 turnovers on the night, including eight in the first half and had 22 three-point attempts on the night, finishing 31% beyond the arc.

White had the game-high of 23 points and added eight rebounds on the night. Comer finished with 12-points, all on three-pointers. Reinthaler also added six rebounds for the Hodags. It was the last high school basketball game for the four Hodag seniors; Reinthaler, Senoraske, Craig, and Matt Rudolph.

Wausau East will take on Medford in the WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinals on Thursday March, 9th at Merrill.

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