There is plenty to look forward to for the 2019 Rhinelander High School track season as they return a number of their top athletes paired with a increased number of athletes and they also drop to Division 2 this season. The coaching staff and Hodag athletes are optimistic the change means more competitive success when it comes to WIAA playoff time.
The RHS track numbers continue to climb as they have approximately 60 athletes out for the start of the 2019 season. They also have a number of top returning experience and have plenty of competitive underclassmen eager to begin their indoor competition season. Last season the RHS boys' finished 5th in the GNC while the girls' placed 7th. Lakeland and Medford earned first and second in the conference in both the boys' and girls' division last season.
Rhinelander returns six all-conference athletes on the boys' side that includes a pair of sectional qualifiers; senior Josh Francisco and junior Peyton Erikson. Francisco placed seventh at sectionals in the 100-meter dash and Erikson finished sixth in the triple jump. The boys' will return a good portion of their team but will look to fill the void of hurdler Alex Monk who graduated.
Also returning is the boys' Great Northern Conference-champion team in the 4x100 which included Francisco, Anthony Kowalski, AJ Kopplin, and Nick Kriesel. Erikson also was GNC champ in the triple jump. While junior Drake also earned all-conference for the Hodags in triple jump and shot put.
Alex Olson will also be back for RHS after finished seventh in the discus in the GNC last season. Ben Sinclair, Chase Redmond, and Connor Lund will also be competing in the field events for the Hodags.
Along with Rhinelander’s experience they bring back they also have a number of freshman looking to make an early impact. In the sprint drills, freshman Caleb has made early strides and had the second best 40-yard dash average behind senior Francisco after the first few days of practice.
On the girls' side, Rhinelander lost their only all-conference athlete Lexie Rick along with sprinter Ellen Pagett to graduation. But just like the boys' side, the RHS girls' return a number of experienced athletes along paired with a number of underclassman for the upcoming season.
Sophomore Rebecca Lawrence returns after finishing fourth in the conference in the high jump with a height of 4-10. While in the girls’ throwing, Rhinelander returns everyone except Rick including Olivia Turgeon, Jackie Wells, and Shawna Will.
Lexi Morrison will compete in long distance and Isabella Anderson will return for sprints after finishing 11th in the GNC last year. Also returning will be Mattia Beske and Samantha Siefert. The girls' side also has a number of freshman including Sage Flory and Emma Germain who look to make an early impact on the team.
Rhinelander will kick off their 2019 indoor season on Thursday when they travel to Wisconsin Rapids for an invite. It will be a nice opening point to see where the team stands as they prepare for their outdoor season. RHS will have four indoor meets this season including the GNC Indoor at Northland Pines on March 26th.The Hodags first outdoor meet is slated for April 11th at Medford.
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.
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