The Rhinelander High School girls' swim team sent four athletes to the 2017 WIAA Division 2 State Meet on Friday night in two different events. Freshman Makenna Winnicki tied for ninth place in the 500-yard freestyle. While the Hodags' 200 medley relay team of fellow freshmen Lisa Kennedy, Marissa Martin, Winnicki, and junior Grace Heck finished 14th at the UW-Madison Natatorium.
Rhinelander's top finisher was Winnicki, who charted a top-10 finish in her first appearance at the WIAA State Swimming Meet. She tied forth ninth place in the 500-yard freestyle, clocking in at 5 minutes, 21.00 seconds.
Winnicki swam in the second of two heats, and tied with senior Maya Schneider of Shorewood. Senior Kelly Rodriguez of Edgewood won the 500-free, swimming the second heat and finishing at 4:53.64, and was the lone swimmer to crack the five-minute mark.
Also improving her seeded sectional time, Winnicki finished 1.27 seconds better and improved one position in the seedings. Senior Grace Fanshaw of Whitewater gradually pulled away from a four-way battle which included Winnicki, Schneider, and senior Gabby Hrdlick of Brookfield Academy.
Winnicki had a strong start in her swim and was second after a 28.43 second split in the first 50. Her times from their tapered off, but closed the final 50 with a 31.13 split to make her way back to tie Schneider and beat Hrdlick to the wall by 0.19 seconds.
The Hodags' started the opening event of swimming portion of the meet with the 200-yard medley relay, where Kennedy, Martin, Winnicki, and Heck finished 14th out of 16 total teams. The RHS team finished 0.58 seconds slower than their seeded sectional time, and would fall one position in the standings, finishing at 1:55.64.
Kennedy kicked off the opening backstroke, finishing her portion of the race in 29.63 seconds. Following was Martin in the breaststroke, where she was able to gain some ground for RHS, clocking in with a split of 32.46 seconds. Winnicki had a 27.76 split in the butterfly. While Heck anchored the relay with the freestyle, clocking in at 25.29 seconds.
Great Northern Conference rival, Tomahawk finished fourth overall in the team standings at state. The Hatchets 200-yard medley relay team finished 9th with the team of Megan Marcks, Kirstin Marcks, Katy Volz, and Kaylie Svacina. Edgewood team of Kaitlyn Barth, Jenna Silvestri, Issy Petersen, and Maeve O’Driscoll, set a new D2 state record in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:44.59.
In the overall team standings, RHS charted 14 points and finished 30th out of 37 total teams. Edgewood easily won the Division 2 title with 346 points. New Berlin Eisenhower finished runner up with 202 points and were followed by McFarland in third with 194.5 points. Tomahawk finished fourth with 142 points and Whitefish Bay rounded out the top-five with 134.5 points.
Besides the Hatchets, fellow GNC opponent Ladysmith co-op also competed and finished in 27th place overall at state. Merrill who competed in the same sectional as RHS finished last in 37th.
The relatively young RHS girls' swimming team finished near their seeding times and gained invaluable learning experience as three swimmers competed in their first WIAA State Meet. Although Rhinelander loses a few seniors for the 2018 season, they return a core group of swimmers for the upcoming season and are optimistic about what the future holds.
The Rhinelander High School girls' swimming team once again qualified for the WIAA State Swim meet after finishing 5th out of 15 teams at the Division 2 Sectionals held at the UW- Stevens Point Aquatic Center on Saturday. The Hodags advanced in two events and will be sending four swimmers to compete at state.
The Tomahawk girls' team were repeat sectional champions, taking first with 345 points and winning five of the 11 events. Following was Rice Lake (269), River Falls (224), Medford (218), and RHS (211) would round out the top five of 15 teams.
Rhinelander made the state cut-off in 200-yard medley relay and also had an individual qualifier in the 500 freestyle. A trio of three freshman; Lisa Kennedy, Marissa Martin, and Makenna Winnicki along with junior Grace Heck consisted of the qualifying relay. And Winnicki also earned her way individually, in the 500.
Kennedy opened the 200 with the backstroke, Martin swam the breaststroke, Winnicki followed with the butterfly, and Heck anchored in the freestyle. The Hodag medley relay team beat their seeded time and clocked in at 1 minute, 55.08 seconds. Which proved to be the 13th fastest time in Division 2, and they made the state cut off by 1.02 seconds. The RHS team finished third overall at the sectional, finishing behind Merrill and Tomahawk.
And in the 500, Winnicki was able to drop over 10 seconds in just over a week and clocked in with her career-best time of 5:22.28. But even with the drop, she finished runner up to Kylee Theiler of Tomahawk. Winnicki’s 500 time proved to be the 10th fastest in Division 2, and made the state cut off by 12.05 seconds.
Winnicki nearly made it to state, in which would have made her third event for the Hodags' in the 200 freestyle. Unfortunately, even with a 3.43 second drop form her seeded time, she was still 1.38 seconds shy of qualifying. Her time of 2:01.49, was faster than the 2016 cutoff, but not quit for this year.
Several out Hodag events had potential to advance to Madision, especially after beating their seeded times in nearly every event. But other teams’ dropped event more time, which would prevent RHS from advance in even more events.
After finishing fourth in sectionals in the 100-breaststroke, Martin also dropped time and finished at 1:12.91. But the Hodag freshman was 1.64 seconds away for the state cutoff.
In the 50-yard freestyle, Heck was just off from her seeded time and placed 11th with a time of 26.40. It also proved to be 0.77 seconds away from qualifying. Senior teammate Jenna Hawley also competed in the 50 and finished eighth to lead the Hodags' with a time of 26.31 seconds, but was 0.68 seconds shy of advancing.
Fellow seniors Carly Seidl and Taylor Macak also dropped times in the 50 and 100 fly. Macak finished 13th in the 100-fly at 1:07.73 and Seidl recorded 15th in the 50- free at 26.99.
Kennedy was 2.24 seconds off the state cutoff in the 100 backstroke, after finishing sixth at 1:03.39. While McGuire in the 100 free placed seventh and missed going to state by 2.36 seconds, after coming in at 57.44.
While the other two Rhinelander relay teams missed the state line. In the 200 freestyle relay, the Hodags' improved their seeded time and finished at 1:45.18 but was not enough, as they missed by 1.84 seconds.
And after a drop of 6.5 seconds in the 400 freestyle relay, Rhinelander recorded a fourth place finish at 3:51.77 with the team of McGuire, Heck, Winnicki, and senior Taylor Macak. The Hodags' 400 free relay team would end up 3.90 away from the cutoff.
Although no Hodag seniors advanced to the 2017 WIAA State Swim Meet in Madison, it is likely that Hawley, Macak, and Seidl could go as alternates. The Division 2 portion of competition will begin at 6:30PM on Friday at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium.
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