The Rhinelander High School 2018 Track and Field team had their fair share of obstacles to overcome this season and made strides in the right direction under first-year head Coach Aaron Kraemer. Here is a look back at their challenges, successes, and what to look forward to next season.
The Hodags would hold their first practice on March 5th with their first indoor meet of the season held only 10 days later. Unfortunately, due to the weather, Rhinelander was unable to get outside for nearly a month after their first practice (May 1st).
There were a pair of outdoor meets (Medford and Antigo) that we cancelled in April. While due to the late snow the Lakeland and Northland Pines outdoor meets had to moved indoors. The GNC Indoor Invite held at Northland Pines was also postpone to April 12th due to a snowstorm which was over a week later than originally scheduled.
Not only did the Great Northern Conference competition have to face weather issues early in the season, Rhinelander also was unable to get realistic competition reps without having an indoor track. And even when the Hodags were finally able to get outdoors, they were limited with the construction happening at Mike Webster Stadium that began last fall.
But despite the obstacles Rhinelander faced in throughout the year, they improved in the GNC in the boys' standings and would have their first sectional qualifier in two years. While they boys also had their first individual boys' GNC titles in three seasons.
The RHS boys moved up one position this season in the GNC standings and finished five overall with 73.5 points. Lakeland would finish first with 164 points and Medford earned runner-up with 129 points. Rhinelander was led by several underclassmen along with their one senior on their roster, Alex Monk.
Rhinelander's pair of individual conference titles came in sprints and jumps, which proved to be the boys' top events on the year. The junior relay team of Nick Kriesel, Josh Francisco, AJ Kopplin, and Anthony Kowalski would win the GNC title in the 4x100- meter relay. While sophomore Peyton Erikson earned first in the triple jump. Francisco, Kopplin, and Kriesel also all charted top-10 finishes in the 100-meter dash in the GNC.
Joining Erikson in the triple jump, sophomore teammate Drake Martin finished third overall in the conference. While in the long jump, Erikson (4th), Francisco (7th), and Martin (5th) all charted top-10 finishes. Martin would add a second-place finish in the shot put as well.
In the high jump, the Rhinelander boys had two jumpers finish in the top six of the conference; Brock Lieder and Calvin Schneider. Both Lieder (6th) and Schneider (5th) cleared 5-feet, 6-inches.
Erikson and Francisco both made their first appearance to the WIAA Division 1 Sectional meet held at D.C. Everest. Francisco finished in third place in the 100-meter dash at regionals held at Wausau East, while Erikson took fourth and the final qualifying spot in the triple jump.
At sectionals, both Erikson and Francisco came up just short of qualifying for the WIAA Division 1 State track meet held in La Crosse. Erikson finished sixth place and Francisco charted seventh in the 100.
In the GNC, the RHS girls finished seventh overall on the year. Medford won the conference team title with 187.5 points to edge Lakeland with 180 points. A pair of Hodag seniors led the girls' this year; Lexie Rick in the throwing events and Ellen Padgett in the sprints.
Rick earned a pair of top-four finishes in the conference. She placed third in the shot put and took fourth in the discus, which were both personal bests for Rick. Teammate Padgett would finish seventh in the 400 at the GNC meet and would take sixth in the 200-meter dash at sectionals.
Freshman Rebecca Lawrence, also proved to be a standout high jumper for the RHS girls'. Her season best was 4-10 and she even cleared 4-8 in her first event of the season, but midway through the season Lawrence suffered a leg injury. In regionals she matched her personal best and took fourth and was just shy of advancing to sectionals. Another underclassman, sophomore Isabella Anderson also had a solid season in sprints and would just miss the cut offs in the 100 and 200-meter dashes at the GNC Meet.
Rhinelander loses a few seniors to graduation, including Rick, who was the teams' only all-conference senior. But the youthful squad is eager to return and build on the success of the 2018 season, which will include a number of athletes who got a taste of the D1 regional and sectional competition and will be paired with a large incoming freshman class.
Junior Josh Francisco and sophomore Peyton Erikson of the Rhinelander High School track team were both unable to make the cut for the 2018 WIAA state track meet. Erikson finished sixth in the boys' triple jump and Francisco placed seventh in the 100-meter dash on Thursday at the Division 1 sectional meet held at Stiehm Stadium in Schofield on Thursday.
The two Hodag athletes were facing a tough competition against primarily Wisconsin Valley Conference opponents. Hudson won the D.C. Everest sectional in the girls' division with 138 points followed by Stevens Point (87 points) and Wausau West (79 points). On the boys' side Stevens point won with 127 points followed by River Falls (75 points) and Eau Claire North (75 points). Only the top three finishers in each event at sectionals advanced to the state meet which will be held in La Crosse.
Despite being off his personal best jump, Erikson finished with a distance of 40 feet, 10 inches to finish sixth overall, but was not enough to punch his ticket. Jared Ollhoff of Merrill would win the triple jump with a mark of 44-3. The final qualifying jump proved to be 43-3 3/4.
While in the boys' 100-meter dash, Francisco was just off from his personal best in clocked in at 11.59 to finish seventh in the event, but also was not enough to advance to state. Trent Hamerski would win the 100 at 11.05 and the final qualifying time was 11.23 seconds.
It marked the final meet for the RHS track team for 2018. Both the boys' and girls' made strides for the Hodags and if they keep the pace and continue to improve they will have a shot at sending some individual athletes to state next season.
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.