The Rhinelander High School boys' swim team came into the Great Northern Conference championship with a perfect 10-0 dual record and earned the conference title with 350 points. The Hodags had a dominate performance and won six events on the night and also set four GNC records in the process on Friday night in Medford.
Along with their six event wins, Rhinelander had swimmers reach the podium with top six finishes in 10 of the 11 events on the night. It also marked the teams' first GNC title since 2016 with a number of all-conference honors by finishing top-three. RHS finished with a 96-point win over runner-up Tomahawk (254 points). Lakeland finished third with 241 points and Shawano placed fourth with 218 points.
The Hodags set the tone early and started the night setting a new GNC record in the opening 200 medley relay. The team of Nolan Francis, Thaddeus Heck, David King, and Martin Hoger clocked with a time of 1 minute, 42.92 seconds. They surpassed the previous record by Lakeland in 2017 of 1:43.66.
Then in the third event of the night, Francis would set the Hodags' second record by roughly two seconds of the night in the 200 individual medley. It was a convincing nearly 10 second win over Tyler Teichmiller (2:11.04) of Lakeland with a winning time of 2:01.33.
Rhinelander's third record breaking performance came later in the night in the 200 freestyle relay where they edge Lakeland by 0.21 seconds. The team of Joseph Heck, Devon Gaber, Martin Hoger, and Russell Benoy clocked in with the quickest time of 1:31.52 while the Thunderbirds finished at 1:31.73. Both teams beat out the previous GNC record set by Lakeland in 2018.
Francis set the Hodags' fourth conference record of the night in the 100 yard backstroke beating the five-year record set by Zach Sopher (Shawano) by 1.64 seconds. He clocked in with a time of 54.13 seconds to beat Brett Farmer of Antigo who finished at 58.67 seconds.
Another Rhinelander win came in the 100-yard freestyle that Benoy claimed. After Liam Hogan edged Benoy by 0.12 seconds in the 50 freestyle for the win, Benoy turned the tables to earn a 1.06 second victory in the 200 with a time of 50.40 seconds to beat out Brandon Boh of Lakeland.
The Hodags cashed in on another close win in the 100-yard breaststroke that Thaddeus Heck claimed with a time of 1:05.32. He edged Teichmiller by 0.44 seconds. Joseph Heck was only 0.20 seconds from the runner-up position at 1:05.98.
Rhinelander was just shy of collecting another win the 400 freestyle relay where they were edged by Lakeland by 0.7 seconds. The Thunderbird team of Boh, Alex Tucker, Teichmiller, and Hogan won with a time of 3:22.17. The Hodag team of Benoy, Gaber, J. Heck, and Francis finished runner-up at 3:22.87. Again both RHS and Lakeland beat the previous GNC record in 400-free relay.
Rhinelander scored four runner-up finishes on the night. Besides the 400-free relay and Benoy (100-free), King earned second in the 100-yard butterfly butterfly with a time of 56.72 seconds. Farmer won the 100 fly at 55.62 seconds.
The remaining all-conference swims and third place finishes for Rhinelander were from; Jacob Schoppe (200 IM), J. Heck (50 free, 100 breast), Gaber (100 free), and Hoger (100 back).
The Hodags also added a few fourth-place finishes on the night. Gaber (50 free), Schoppe (100 fly), King (100 back), and T. Heck (200 free) for individual events. While RHS B relays placed fifth in the 200 free relay (King, Cooper Kovac, Ashton Cole, and Schoppe) and 400 free relay (Schoppe, Cole, Kovac, and T. Heck).
Rhinelander will now prepare for the upcoming WIAA Division 2 sectional meet held Saturday at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point. The Hodags have high expectations and will look to send several events onto to the state meet. The timed finals will begin at 1:00PM.