The Rhinelander High School girls' swim team competed in the WIAA Division 2 sectional meet at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point on Saturday. RHS sophomore Makenna Winnicki proved to be the only Hodag to advance to the 2018 State Meet next Friday. Rhinelander finished eighth as a team and also just barely missed the cut-offs in a few events.
Merrill won the team sectional tile and just edged out Tomahawk by 2.5 points. Wausau East finished third followed by Rice Lake (4th) and Medford (5th). RHS finished eighth with 179.5 points out of the 13-team sectional. Ladysmith/Bruce/Flambeau finished seventh, which was 13.5 points ahead of the Hodags. Lakeland finished 10th (141 points), Colby/Abbotsford placed 12th, and Antigo was 13th.
Although there were no automatic state berths for Rhinelander, Winnicki punched her ticket to state in two individual events after a pair of top-four finishes. She qualified in the 100-yard butterfly as well as the 500-yard freestyle. Also two Rhinelander relay teams with Winnicki, just missed the qualifying time.
On the day, Rhinelander only 12 of their 21 entries finished with times better than their seeded times. Sophomore Lisa Kennedy was also part of the two RHS relays who just missed the cut, and she also barely missed in the 100-yard backstroke.
It marks Winnicki’s second straight year qualifying for state in two events. As a freshman she competed in the 500-free and was also part of the 200-yard medley relay team. This season she will will be competing in the 500-free again as well as the 100-fly.
Winnicki finished third in the 100-fly with a time of 1 minute, 0.54 seconds. Her fly time also was the 13th quickest time overall in the state. She was seeded second in the 500 and would finished fourth overall and was able to set a new personal-best with a time of 5:20.83, which was the eighth-best time in the state.
Rhinelander had a nail-biting wait for for the other results of the remaining three Division 2 Sectionals. The Hodags were optimistic about their medley relay team and would have marked their fourth straight year going as a team. The team of Winnicki, Kennedy, freshman Noelle St. Pierre, and senior Grace Heck finished fourth in sectionals with a time of 1:55.54, but proved to be 0.38 seconds away from the cutoff.
The same relay team would finish eight in the 200-yard freestyle relay at 1:44.33 and would finish 1.68 seconds behind the cutoff for state. Kennedy just narrowly missed joining teammate Winnicki at state in the 100-yard backstroke. Kennedy finished seventh and bettered her seeded time at 1:02.39, but was still 1.33 seconds shy of the state line. Kennedy also added an eighth place finish in the 200-freestyle and also improved from her seeded time at 2:07.23.
Besides the two relays and Winnicki's and Kennedy's individual events, Rhinelander only had two other top-10 finishes at sectionals. Freshman Maria Heck placed ninth in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:50.35 which was just shy of her seeded time.
And the RHS 400-yard freestyle relay team of junior Marisa McGuire, freshman Sierra Woodford, senior Allie Fugle, and Maria Heck would finish in ninth place at 4:05.31, which was 0.18 seconds slower than their seeded time.
It also marked the final high school swim meet for Rhinelander's five seniors; Grace Heck, Maddie Quinn, Allie Fugle, Alexis Denny, and Miranda Erdmann.
Winnicki will now focus on her two individual events and she will compete in the D2 timed finals on Friday at 6:30PM at the UW Natatorium in Madison.
On Monday the Great Northern Conference released their 2018 fall all-conference teams. There were 28 Rhinelander High School athletes that earned all-conference honors which included nine first team all-conference selections.
The all-conference teams for boys' soccer, football, and volleyball were voted on during the GNC coaches meeting last Wednesday held in Tomahawk. While the all-conference teams in cross country, girls' swimming, and girls' tennis were all based on each sports conference meet.
The RHS girls' tennis team had the strongest showing with 10-all conference players. RHS boys soccer followed with eight players earning all-conference and football finished with five selections. Girls' swimming had four and cross country had one all-conference runner.
First Team: Emma Roberts, Kaylee Pontell, Kenedy Van Zile
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