As Coach Bob Heideman and the Rhinelander High School girls' tennis team begin their 2017 season they already have a big task in front of them. The Hodags lost seven starting seniors to graduation and are looking to pick up where they left off as they seek their eight consecutive Great Northern Conference title.
With convincing GNC titles in the past seven seasons, Rhinelander faces several challenges as we look ahead to the fall season. The Hodags only return their starters from No. 3 and No. 4 singles, as well as No. 3 doubles. This leaves plenty of question marks and openings to battle for positions.
Rhinelander will have to replace top two flights in singles; Ivy Packard and Kristina Jacobson. As well as their top two flights in doubles; Erica Counter/Ali Schickert (No. 1 doubles), and Hannah Stroede/Katie Krueger (No. 2 doubles).
Senior Belinda Weddle will return to singles action after earning a GNC champion title at No. 3 singles the past two seasons. And also returning for the Hodag singles will be sophomore Alex Oestreich who earned second in the GNC at No. 4 singles last season.
Senior Livi Roberts and junior Haley Seefeldt will also be returning to the varsity lineup for Rhinelander after earning a conference title at No. 3 doubles in 2016. Although the Hodags' return four players from their varsity starting lineup last season, they still have several underclassmen battling for starting positions
There will be a few juniors in runnings including Alexis Pyrchalla, Emma Roberts, and Savannah Chartier. But the Hodag sophomore class also has sever netters pushing for a varsity role. Sophomores include Izzy Haverkampf, Madi Losch, Jaiden Thiel, Kenedy Van Zile, Jackie Wells, and Lisa White.
With practice underway, the RHS girls' tennis team will have to figure out missing pieces to their lineup as they are on the road today for a scrimmage held at Wausau West. The two-day invite at Wausau will be held Monday and Tuesday.
Rhinelander will have a busy week ahead and will be on the road again on Thursday as they open up their Great Northern Conference season at Marshfield and will face Columbus Catholic in a doubleheader.
With no rest, Rhinelander will have their home opener Friday and will host the Hodag Quad at the RHS Tennis Courts and will face Ashland, Ironwood, and Merrill.
Although the Hodags have big roles to fill if they want to battle for yet another GNC title, they are optimistic about this young squad. Looking at the conference race, Antigo will more than likely be the biggest challenge of the GNC race, but Lakeland cannot be overlooked as well.
The Hodag Gridiron Club hosted the third annual Hodag Football Family Day on Saturday, and showed there is plenty to look forward to for the upcoming 2017 season. The day was filled with games, activities, Green/White scrimmage, as well featured former Packer fullback, William Henderson.
The event was a great kick to the new season which brought coaches, players, families, and the community together. It also ended the Rhinelander High School football team's first week of practice under head Coach Chris Ferge.
There was plenty of heart and dedication shown on Saturday and also was a day that exposed several areas the team will look to improve and build on before their opening game on Friday August 18th at Prescott.
Rhinelander's White team would edge the Green team four touchdowns to three on Saturday, but both teams had their highlights in the two-30-minute sessions they played. With the limited contact due to WIAA regulations, the varsity roster featured 41-players with the Green/White teams divided into even teams.
Senior quarterback Logan Freund led the White team with two touchdown passes and also added a score on one of his nine carries and had one interception. While the Green team's offense featured junior Brock Lieder who also finished with two passing and one rushing touchdown on the day.
While senior Reuben Guzik was one of Freund's top receivers on the day, scoring two touchdowns for the White team. The Green teams' top receivers for Lieder were seniors Tyler Olson and Cole Spaulding, who each scored. Olson capped off a 60-yard drive nearing the end of the second session to pull White with one-touchdown. Sophomore Drake Martin also had a big day rushing for the White team, averaging over 6-yard per carry on the day.
Looking at the 2017 roster, Rhinelander has a balance of a large experienced senior and sophomore class that will look to lead the year. The seniors have 15 players while the sophomore class has 20.
The day not only featured the two varsity session scrimmages but also show cased two sessions for the RHS freshman team which had 28 players. Several middle school players also seen some action with a 7-on-7 scrimmage. The James Williams Middle School 7th and 8th graders will start their season on August 14th.
Rhinelander held their teams' first full-pad practice on Monday and will be gearing up for three-team scrimmage held at Northland Pines on Friday. The Hodags' will open their 2017 season a week later on Friday, August 18th at Prescott. Kick-off is slated for 7:00PM.
Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. By Request LLC shall not be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless.