Although the 2019 Rhinelander Hig School cross country did not send any harriers to the WIAA Division 2 State Meet this season, they continue to progress and improve as a team which was especially evident in sectionals. The Hodags had several notable individual and team results this past season and here is a look at back at their successes and what to look forward to in 2020 with all 14 varsity runners returning under Coach M.J. Laggis.
Rhinelander opened their season with their home invite where the girls finished 5th and the boys placed 6th. For the RHS's next two meets both the boys and girls finished runner-up or third. At Mosinee both Rhinelander divisions finished third and at the non-conference invite at Stratfrod the girls were 2nd/6 and the boys added another third place finish.
One of the biggest invitationals the Hodags participate in every season is the annual Smiley Invite held at Tribute Golf Course in Wausau. This season was the 63rd annual, and Rhinelander girls finished 7th/8 in the Small Division of D1 schools and the boys were 10th/11. One of Rhinelander's top boy harriers, junior Jacob Weddle was sick but still battled through and finished 54th out of a field of 164 D1 runners.
Sophomore Cal Laggis was the Hodags top finisher in the boys' division and placed 32nd and fellow sophomore Jaden Beske was 49th. On the girls side junior Abbey Henrichs paced the RHS girls and was 21st in a field of 154 D1 harriers. Junior Ali DeNamur was right behind in 22nd. And sophomore Audrey Schiek was 38th, junior Ella Schiek finished 41st, and sophomore Sage Flory placed 48th.
After the Smiley Invite, Rhinelander was primarily back to full strength and went on another streak where they placed top-three in both the girls' and boys' divisions in their next four invites. Starting at Gartzke Flowage, the Hodags got their first look at where the GNC meet would take place in Polar, where the girls finished second and the boys placed in the five team event. From there, both teams earned third place finishes at the Charger Invite in Waupaca, which included a field of 10-teams.
Then at the Northland Pines Invite, both the girls and boys both won their divisions out of five teams. Both teams cruised to convincing wins which included all seven varsity runners placing in the top-12 on the boys side and all seven of the varsity girls recording top-17 finishes. Weddle led a 1-2 finish with teammate Laggis, both cracking the 18-minute mark. Beske finished fifth, junior Daniel Goldsworthy was eighth, junior JC Adams was 10th, freshman Nathanael Gibbs placed 11th, and junior David Gibbs finished 12th. Abbey Henrichs set the pace or the RHS girls’ and was fourth overall followed by Audrey Schiek in fifth, sophomore Emma Germain finished eighth, Flory was 12th, sophomore Megan Brown was 13th, and senior Valeria Dalka rounded out the varsity in 17th.
Rhinelander finished in the middle of the pack to follow in an invite at Edgewater. The lady Hodags were 5th/9 and the boys were also 5th/11. RHS was looking to make up some ground against Mosinee in the Great Northern Conference invite at Gartzke Flowage. But both the boys and girls harriers finished 5th/7 in the conference. Tomahawk boys edged Lakeland for the GNC title and Medford girls beat out Lakeland for the girls' title. RHS did show great improvement in promise as the battled a tough sectional at Edgewater in Tomahawk. The girls were 7th/16 and the boys’ finished 8th/16 but were unable to send any individuals to state. On the plus side the girls bumped up three positions from last season's section finish and the boys jumped spots ahead in sectionals compared to last year.
All 14 varsity runners who competed at both the GNC meet and sectionals will return next season in which 11 harriers dropped time, which could mean a break out season for 2020. The Hodags also had six of the seven harriers on the boys’ side of action set personal-best times this year. Coach Laggis and the RHS Cross Country team will continue to train hard in the off-season and are optimistic for what the future holds.
The Rhinelander High School cross country made great strides competing at the WIAA Division 2 sectionals on Saturday, where both the girls' and boys' concluded their 2019 season. The Hodags finished in the middle of the pack with the boys' finishing eighth out of 15 and the girls' placed seventh out of 14 at the Edgewater Country Club in Tomahawk.
Despite not sending any harriers to the WIAA State championship in Wisconsin Rapids this season, the core group of runner have shown great improvements from the previous seasons. In the same field of sectional opponents as last season, the RHS girls' improved from 10th to seventh and the boys' jumped from 13th to eighth. Also 12 of the Hodags 14 varsity runners dropped times from the last time they ran the same course two weeks prior.
The top three Rhinelander varsity boys' all set personal-best times and all clocked in below 18-minutes, but was not enough for any runners to advance to state. Only the top five finishers not on a state-qualifying team advanced to state. Junior Jacob Weddle was the Hodags top finisher on the boys' side, placing 28th with a time of 17 minutes, 35.2 seconds. Sophomore Cal Laggis was not far behind in 36th at 17:48.5. And sophomore Jaden Beske clocked in at 17:54.1 to place 39th.
Junior David Gibbs finished 58th for RHS at 18:33.1, junior Daniel Goldsworthy placed 62nd at 18:46.5, junior JC Adams was 63rd (18:50.1), and freshman Nathanael Gibbs rounded out the varsity in 76th at 19:19.8.
Freedom won the boys' team sectional title and was followed by New London, Shawano, Lakeland, Tomahawk, Wittenberg-Birnamwood, and Mosinee. Freedom junior Jack Reier was the medalist in the boys' division and won with a time of 16:34.6, with his team having five harriers in the top-14.
On the girls' side of action junior Abbey Henrichs once again paced the Hodags and had the best finish for RHS on the day. Henrichs finished 27th overall with a time of 21:26.7. Fellow junior Ali DeNamur was right behind and placed 30h at 21:31.3.
Junior Ella Schiek who battled injury throughout the first half of the season, finished third for the Hodags placing 40th on the day with a time of 22:19.8. Sophomore Audrey Schiek was close behind and placed 43rd at 22:25.2. Sophomores Emma Germain (53rd; 22:44.9), Sage Flory (61st; 22:59.7), and Megan Brown (67th; 23:35.9) rounded out the RHS varsity.
Tomahawk won the girls sectional title to edge Freedom by one point and Lakeland. Mosinee was fourth followed by New London and Shawano. Marinette senior Katelyn Kitzinger was first overall at 19:28.8 followed by a pair of Great Northern Conference runners; Tomahawk senior Haley Voermans-Dea and Lakeland senior Ashley Peterson.
Rhinelander made great strides on both the girls' and boys' side for the 2019. The Hodags will also return all their varsity harriers for next season and will to keep cutting time and also push to send individuals to Wisconsin Rapids.
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