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.