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FEATURED STORY
2016-2017 RHS Boys' Swimming Review
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 03/28/2017
Photo By HodagSports.com Staff
The 2016-2017 Rhinelander High School boys' swimming team overcame some difficult challenges throughout the season, and was still able to qualify for the WIAA State Meet in four different events. Despite the adversity faced the Hodags proved they are here to battle and the future looks bright.

Rhinelander boys' swimmers were the 2015-2016 Great Northern Conference champions, but were unable to repeat their title after finishing fifth overall in the conference at 2-8. Lakeland and Shawano took the top two positions in the GNC. 

It was already proving to be a challenging season, after the Hodags graduated roughly half of their GNC championship team. Rhinelander stayed optimistic and tried their best to fill a full lineup, but would end up three swimmers short and battled with nine swimmers which took its toll early in the season.

The first stretch of the season, proved to be a struggle for the Hodags, who won more events in their first two meets against Antigo and Tomahawk, but would still fall short of winning. At the end of November RHS fell 98-72 to the Robins and December, 1st they lost 94-76 to the Hatchets. And the Hodags would follow a week late with a tough loss to Lakeland.

Rhinelander's two conference wins in the 2016-2017 season both came over Medford. The Raiders were the lone GNC team to finish without a win in the conference. The first win came mid-December where RHS won 99-63. The second win didn’t come until after the pertussis outbreak at the end of January where the Hodags defeated the Raiders 115-49.

Another huge issue the RHS boys' swim team faced was the time that had to be taken off due to whooping cough, which affected a majority of the winter sports at RHS. So Coach Lindsay Byrka and the coaching staff had to come with a new training plan to prepare the Hodags for WIAA sectionals. But the Hodags pushed through and went against the odds and not only had successful swims at sectionals, but four events did well enough to qualify the 2017 WIAA State Swim Meet.

So instead of undergoing some of their most rigorous training over winter break, the Hodags season was put on hold where they were unable to practice or compete. Rhinelander finally returned to action on January, 7th for an invite in Ashwaubenon. Due to the cancellations the Hodags' final weeks consisted of several meets with two that were scheduled back-to-back.

But despite being drained from a tough makeup schedule, the Hodags took on the challenge and saved some of their best swims for the WIAA sectionals held at UW-Stevens Point and for the WIAA State Meet held in Madison.

On February, 11th Rhinelander would have an impressive showing at sectionals and finished 5th out of 15 total teams at the Division 2 sectionals and they were also the third best GNC school on the day.

Sophomore Nolan Francis who have a hand in all four state qualifying events include two individual events; the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 butterfly. The most notable win in sectionals for Francis proved to be the 200-IM where he became the first swimmer in RHS history to break the two-minute barrier. 

Francis along with Thaddeus Heck, Martin Hoger, and David King finished second in the 200-medley relay with a time of 1 minute, 45.28 seconds which proved to be enough to advance to state. And Russell Benoy, Hoger, Devon Gaber, and Francis placed fifth at 1:45.01. Luckily the Hodags made the cutoff by 0.09 seconds and would add another event to thei 2017 state list.

And on February, 17th the RHS boys' swim team would finish 16th overall out of 31 teams at the WIAA Division 2 State swimming meet at the UW-Madison Natatorium.

Leading the way was sophomore Nolan Francis, who finished in sixth-place in both the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley. Rhinelander's 200 medley relay team finished 12th place at state and the 200 freestyle relay team was disqualified for an early exchange.

In the process, Francis was able to break his own school record in the 200 IM, and clocked in with a time of 1 minute, 59.08 seconds, which is set at the WIAA Stevens Point sectionals. He also had a personal best in the fly at 53.84 seconds. It also marked RHS's first boys' podium finish since 2009.

Looking ahead to 2017-2018 season, Rhinelander will return eight of their nine swimmers. The only loss was exchange student Vlad Gorodoja, who joined the team late in the season. Rhinelander is hoping to increase their numbers to fill a full lineup, but regardless of what happens, the Hodags will battle and look for another successful season.



Hodag Swim 16th at WIAA State Meet
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 02/20/2017
Photo By HodagSports.com Staff
The Rhinelander High School boys' swim team despite the obstacles they encountered this season, were able to finish 16th overall out of 31 teams at the WIAA Division 2 State swimming meet on Friday held at the UW-Madison Natatorium.

Leading the way was sophomore Nolan Francis, who earned sixth-place finishes to reach the podium on the night in both the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley. Rhinelander's 200 medley relay team finished in 12th place, and the Hodag's 200 freestyle relay team was disqualified for an early exchange.

In the process, Francis was able to break his own school record in the 200 IM, and clocked in with a time of 1 minute, 59.08 seconds, which is set at the WIAA Stevens Point sectionals. He also had a personal best in the fly at 53.84 seconds. It also marked RHS's first boys' podium finish since 2009.

Rhinelander finished only 0.19 seconds behind Great Northern Conference rival Lakeland in the 200 medley relay. Francis opened the first leg of the race, followed by freshmen Thaddeus Heck and David King, and sophomore Russell Benoy anchored the team, which finished with a time of 1:44.23 to finsih in 12th place. RHS also finished two positions higher then Shawano, who came in at 1:45.65.

The Thunderbirds ended up finishing in 11th place as a team, while the Hodags finished ahead of Shawano who placed 22nd.

Although some of RHS boys' had best splits in the 200-freestyle relay, they were disqualified for a false start exchange in the event. The team of Benoy, Francis, freshman Devon Gaber, and sophomore Martin Hoger, would have finished 15th without the disqualification. Francis had the teams' fastest split in the relay at 21.94 seconds.

With the Hodags juggling a small lineup, as well as missing nearly three weeks of practice mid-season they were able to overcome the struggles and battled to a middle of the pack finish at the WIAA Division 2 state meet, including two podium finishes. RHS brought seven total underclassman to state, which included junior Conor Natrop who was their relay alternate.

With such a young team, Rhinelander and Coach Lindsay Bryka will use the experience to learn and grow as a team in the future. The Hodags will look to build from the WIAA State experience, and there is no doubt they will battle through any obstacles to make it to another state meet next season.
MORE STORIES
Schedule
11/29
5:30PM
AntigoL 98-72
12/01
5:30PM
Away vs. TomahawkL 94-76
12/08
5:30PM
Away vs. LakelandL 104.5 - 64.5
12/10
11:00AM
Invitational @ RHST-4th/8
12/13
5:30PM
Away vs. ShawanoL 102-68
12/15
5:30PM
MedfordW 113-49
01/03
5:30PM
ShawanoPostponed
Rescheduled 1-17-17
01/05
5:30PM
Away vs. Antigo Cancelled
01/07
10:00AM
Invitational @ Ashwaubenon8th/12
01/12
5:30PM
TomahawkL 94-74
01/13
5:00PM
Invitational @ Appleton North7th/7
01/17
5:30PM
ShawanoRescheduled 1-23-2017 at the Heck Family Community Pool
01/19
5:30PM
LakelandL 106-59
01/24
Shawano L 107-61
01/26
5:30PM
Away vs. MedfordW 99-63
01/27
5:30PM
Away vs. Antigo L 93-70
02/03
5:30PM
GNC Meet @ Antigo5th/6
02/11
TBD
Sectionals @ Stevens Point5th/11
02/17
TBA
WIAA State Meet @ Madison16th/31
Standings
Total Conference Points
Lakeland22 pts-
Shawano17 pts-
Antigo13 pts-
Tomahawk12 pts-
Rhinelander6 pts-
Medford2 pts-
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