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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.
RHS Swim qualifies for WIAA State in four events
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 02/13/2017
Photo By *
The Rhinelander High School boys' swim team finished 5th at the WIAA Division 2 sectionals held at UW-Stevens Point on Saturday, and qualified for state in four events. The top 12 fastest times in each event excluding the first-place automatic state berth punched their ticket to the WIAA state meet. The Hodags were able to advance six swimmers in four events.

Rhinelander also finished as the third best Great Northern Conference school at the UWSP sectionals, coming in behind champions Lakeland and Shawano (3rd). Antigo finished in sixth overall, Tomahawk placed eighth, and Medford charted 11th.

Sophomore Nolan Francis earned is way in two individual events; the 200-yard individual medley as well as the 100 butterfly. The Hodag team of Francis, Thaddeus Heck, Martin Hoger, and David King set a school record in the 200-yard IM to advance. And Russell Benoy, Hoger, Devon Gaber, and Francis made it state in the 200-freestyle relay.

Earning Rhinelander's first state ticket was Francis who charted his lifetime best in the 200 IM, with a winning time of 1 minute, 59.89 seconds. The biggest difference in the IM for Francis was the breaststroke and butterfly legs of the race, where he made up time and was able to beat his seeded time by 6.84 seconds and also beat Griffin Rades (Shawano) by 3.32 seconds.

And later in the day, Francis was able to edge Jacob Hamerla (Lakeland) to the wall by 0.64 seconds, with the winning time of 54.27 seconds in the 100 butterfly for his second automatic state-birth. Francis qualified for state as a freshman in four events, marking his second straight year heading to the state meet.

Although it was not an automatic ticket, RHS felt comfortable with their second-place finish in the 200-medley relay to move on. And they were correct, the time of 1:45.28, which was just under three-seconds better than their seeded time was enough to advance.

But in one of the Hodag's closest calls was in the 200-freestyle relay. Rhinelander finished fifth with a time of 1:45.01, with the top-five teams separated by approximately a-half of a second. But the Hodags found out the good news well after the meet, that they made the cutoff by 0.09 seconds and would add another event to their 2017 WIAA state list.

Even with qualifying for four events, Rhinelander just missed the state cutoff line in several individual events. Benoy finished fourth place in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.33 seconds, and third in the 100 free at 51.60, both just missing the cutoff.

In the 100 breast, Heck had a lifetime best time of 1:07.57 where he finished third, but was 1.7 seconds away from making the state cut. RHS also added a few top-10 finishes on the day including King in the butterfly (7th), and the backstroke (8th). Heck also charted eighth in the IM.

So despite the bumps the RHS boys' swim has encountered this season, including postponing their training for over two-weeks due to whooping cough, Coach Lindsay Byrka and the Hodags were able to push through and beat their see time in 18 of 20 entries on the day, enough to advance four events.

Entering Friday's state meet, Francis is seeded fourth in the IM and sixth in the butterfly, as the Hodags look to make the podium. It will be a great experience for the five Hodag swimmers that will be taking part in their first WIAA State meet. The timed finals will begin at 6:30PM on Friday and will be held at the UW Natatorium in Madison.

AntigoL 98-72
Away vs. TomahawkL 94-76
Away vs. LakelandL 104.5 - 64.5
Invitational @ RHST-4th/8
Away vs. ShawanoL 102-68
MedfordW 113-49
Rescheduled 1-17-17
Away vs. Antigo Cancelled
Invitational @ Ashwaubenon8th/12
TomahawkL 94-74
Invitational @ Appleton North7th/7
ShawanoRescheduled 1-23-2017 at the Heck Family Community Pool
LakelandL 106-59
Shawano L 107-61
Away vs. MedfordW 99-63
Away vs. Antigo L 93-70
GNC Meet @ Antigo5th/6
Sectionals @ Stevens Point5th/11
WIAA State Meet @ Madison16th/31
Total Conference Points
Lakeland22 pts-
Shawano17 pts-
Antigo13 pts-
Tomahawk12 pts-
Rhinelander6 pts-
Medford2 pts-
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