The Rhinelander High School girls' swim team competed in the WIAA Division 2 sectional meet at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point on Saturday. RHS sophomore Makenna Winnicki proved to be the only Hodag to advance to the 2018 State Meet next Friday. Rhinelander finished eighth as a team and also just barely missed the cut-offs in a few events.
Merrill won the team sectional tile and just edged out Tomahawk by 2.5 points. Wausau East finished third followed by Rice Lake (4th) and Medford (5th). RHS finished eighth with 179.5 points out of the 13-team sectional. Ladysmith/Bruce/Flambeau finished seventh, which was 13.5 points ahead of the Hodags. Lakeland finished 10th (141 points), Colby/Abbotsford placed 12th, and Antigo was 13th.
Although there were no automatic state berths for Rhinelander, Winnicki punched her ticket to state in two individual events after a pair of top-four finishes. She qualified in the 100-yard butterfly as well as the 500-yard freestyle. Also two Rhinelander relay teams with Winnicki, just missed the qualifying time.
On the day, Rhinelander only 12 of their 21 entries finished with times better than their seeded times. Sophomore Lisa Kennedy was also part of the two RHS relays who just missed the cut, and she also barely missed in the 100-yard backstroke.
It marks Winnicki’s second straight year qualifying for state in two events. As a freshman she competed in the 500-free and was also part of the 200-yard medley relay team. This season she will will be competing in the 500-free again as well as the 100-fly.
Winnicki finished third in the 100-fly with a time of 1 minute, 0.54 seconds. Her fly time also was the 13th quickest time overall in the state. She was seeded second in the 500 and would finished fourth overall and was able to set a new personal-best with a time of 5:20.83, which was the eighth-best time in the state.
Rhinelander had a nail-biting wait for for the other results of the remaining three Division 2 Sectionals. The Hodags were optimistic about their medley relay team and would have marked their fourth straight year going as a team. The team of Winnicki, Kennedy, freshman Noelle St. Pierre, and senior Grace Heck finished fourth in sectionals with a time of 1:55.54, but proved to be 0.38 seconds away from the cutoff.
The same relay team would finish eight in the 200-yard freestyle relay at 1:44.33 and would finish 1.68 seconds behind the cutoff for state. Kennedy just narrowly missed joining teammate Winnicki at state in the 100-yard backstroke. Kennedy finished seventh and bettered her seeded time at 1:02.39, but was still 1.33 seconds shy of the state line. Kennedy also added an eighth place finish in the 200-freestyle and also improved from her seeded time at 2:07.23.
Besides the two relays and Winnicki's and Kennedy's individual events, Rhinelander only had two other top-10 finishes at sectionals. Freshman Maria Heck placed ninth in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:50.35 which was just shy of her seeded time.
And the RHS 400-yard freestyle relay team of junior Marisa McGuire, freshman Sierra Woodford, senior Allie Fugle, and Maria Heck would finish in ninth place at 4:05.31, which was 0.18 seconds slower than their seeded time.
It also marked the final high school swim meet for Rhinelander's five seniors; Grace Heck, Maddie Quinn, Allie Fugle, Alexis Denny, and Miranda Erdmann.
Winnicki will now focus on her two individual events and she will compete in the D2 timed finals on Friday at 6:30PM at the UW Natatorium in Madison.
The Rhinelander High School girls' swim team knew they would have a challenge going in the Great Northern Conference meet on Friday, and they fended off some quality opponents to finish runner-up in Minocqua and had a number of podium finishes. Tomahawk would finish first in the GNC and would win eight of the 11 events on the evening.
Rhinelander finished with 241 points, which was 44 points behind the Hatchets. In a battle for runner-up, Lakeland finished with 227 points, 14 points behind RHS. And Ladysmith/Bruce/Flambeau finished fourth with 226 points and Medford was fifth with 203 points.
This season the GNC title was determined by their dual meet record along with the conference meet results. RHS finished 6-1 overall and second a the GNC meet to finish runner-up with 26 points. Tomahawk cruised to another GNC title with 30 overall points, four points ahead of the Hodags. Lakeland, Meford, and Ladysmith would finish in a three way tie for third in the GNC with 18 points.
Sophomore Makenna Winnicki had an impressive showing for the Hodags and would place in the top two in three of her four events on the night. Winnicki's highlight came in the 100-yard butterfly where she won the GNC title.
It was neck and neck in the 100-fly with Tomahawk's Megan Marcks, but Winnicki would pull away in the final 50-yards to win with a time of 1 minute, 1.5 seconds which was 1.42 seconds quicker than Marcks.
And only two events later, Winnicki would earn second place in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:21.12, which was only 0.12 seconds off her personal record she set last season at the state meet. Kylee Theiler of Tomahawk won the 500-free with a time of 5:17.73 and broke her own conference record in the process.
Rhinelander also finished runner-up in the opening 200-yard medley relay. The Hodag team of Lisa Kennedy, Noelle St. Pierre, Winnicki, and Grace Heck finished second, only 1.73 seconds behind the Hatchets relay team of Megan Marcks, Kaylie Svacina, Katy Volz, and Shelby Benaszeski.
Kennedy reached the podium in her third place conference finish in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:09.32. And St. Pierre also earned a third place finish to reach the podium and earn all-conference in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:17.04.
Maria Heck finished fourth in the 500-yard freestyle (5:49.19) and also placed fifth in the 200-yard freestyle (2:10.12). Grace Heck would earn fourth in the 200-yard individual medley (2:29.58). Allie Fugle added a fifth place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:19.67). In the 200 IM, Maddie Quinn placed sixth (2:37.31). And St. Pierre finished sixth in the 100-yard freestyle (58.01).
In the 200 freestyle relay, the Hodag team of Winnicki, Marisa McGuire, Kennedy, and Grace Heck finished fourth with a time of 1:45.36. The RHS 400 freestyle relay team of McGuire, Maria Heck, Quinn, an St. Pierre paired up to close the night with a fifth place finish at 4:05.13.
Rhinelander will be back in action on Saturday afternoon when they take part in the WIAA Division 2 sectionals that will be held at UW-Stevens Points. All of the GNC teams minus Mosinee and six other teams will compete with the timed finals beginning at 1:00PM.
Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. By Request LLC shall not be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless.