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2017 RHS Track Preview
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 03/20/2017
Photo By HodagSports.com Staff
The Rhinelander High School track and field team made strides in the 2016 season, and one of their main goals was to increase their number of athletes to strengthen the program for the future. And for the 2017 season, it looks like have done just that. Along with solid numbers, they also have a new head coach.

Coach Chris Ferge will be the boys' head coach for the 2017 season, marking his third straight season. But the biggest change will be Brittany Haakenson will now be the girls' head coach. This change will allow each coach to focus on fewer athletes throughout the season.

Last season the RHS girls finished fifth in the Great Northern Conference, while the boys finished last in the conference. Despite the teams' finishes in the GNC standings, the Hodags were able to send four athletes to the WIAA sectionals. But a tough sectional lineup, RHS would not send any athletes to the WIAA state meet for the first time in seven seasons.

This season the RHS track team has their numbers up, nearing around 70 athletes and they will be working on developing some young inexperienced varsity athletes, while building on some returning athletes. They are also striving for more of a team mentality rather than individual, in hopes of advancing more athletes in the WIAA regional and sectional meets. 

In 2016 the RHS girls' advanced to sectionals in three different events and lost Eva O'Melia to graduation. O'Melia competed in the 800 and was also part of the 4x800 meter relay.

Three of the 4x800 relay members will be return though including Alayna Franson, Gracie Quinn, and Payton Hartman. 

Junior Franson also qualified for the 1,600, but would end up 13.08 seconds shy of the state qualifying time. Franson is a two-spring sport athlete, who also plays soccer for the Hodags.

The Hodags will also return junior Lexie Rick (shot put, discus), Ellen Padgett and Erika Jorgenson (sprints) for the 2017 season.

While on the boys' side of action, the Hodags are slightly less experienced at the varsity level and had no sectional qualifiers; the closest was graduate Eric Tracy. Like the girls', the boys’ also have several underclassmen, as well as several new athletes. 

Colton Krueger will be returning for Rhinelander and will look to help the Hodags in the hurdles as well as shot put this season. While A.J. Kopplin looks to lead the Hodags in the high jump and Anthony Kowalski in the 400.

Rhinelander added a meet during spring break in Wisconsin Rapids where they only competed with 15 athletes due to Thursday in a quadrangular meet which also included Rapids, Port Edwards, and Reedsburg. Each team was allowed unlimited entries in each event and was scored through the top five places.

With Rhinelander track increasing their number of athletes, the 2017 season looks to be a promising rebuilding season. With several experienced athletes returning to lead the way, the Hodags will look to start and finish the season strong.

The Hodags will compete in their first actual invitational on Tuesday for an indoor meet held at Lakeland Union High School. The Hodags will be up against Lakeland, Edgar, Mercer, Three Lakes, and Wausau Newman in the invite that starts at 4:15PM.
2016 RHS Track Review
By Cassie Krueger - Posted on 06/20/2016
Photo By HodagSports.com Staff
The Rhinelander High School track team proved they are heading in the right direction in the 2016 season with second year Coach Chris Ferge. The Hodags are still looking for numbers to strengthen their program, but there were still several athletes that had impressive finishes to the year, and four advanced to sectionals in their journey.

A tough sectional lineup would not allow any Rhinelander athletes to advance to the WIAA state meet, and would mark the first time in seven years RHS would not being sending at least one member to state.

Both the girls' and guys' teams finished strong for the 2016 season, and were highlighted by some of their best performances of the year as they closed out their spring season.

The RHS girls' track team proved throughout the season to be the rock of the 2016 team, especially the distance crews. The girls' had their best Great Northern Conference finish since 2012 and finished fifth in the outdoor meet held in Rhinelander.

It also marked the first time in over 10 years that the RHS track team hosted a meet, in a huge help to be the track being resurfaced in 2015.

For the conference meet, the Hodag girls' won the 800-meter run, the 1,600, the 3,200, as well as the 4x800 meter relay.

Sophomore Alayna Franson, who also participates in soccer had a hand in three of the wins on the day and earned the GNC female runner of the year with her performance. She won the 1,600 and 3,200 distance runs for Rhinelander and also was part of the 4x800 relay.

Senior Eva O'Melia also had impressive runs as she earned the win in the 800, and anchored the 4x800 relay. Gracie Quinn and Payton Hartman also were part of the winning 4x800 relay team as well.

O'Melia, Franson, Quinn, and Hartman advanced to sectionals after charting a third place finish at the Wausau West regionals at the end of May. O'Melia qualified for sectionals in the 800 and Franson also individually qualified in the 1,600.

Despite any of the four advancing to state, there were notable finishes in the tough D.C. Everest sectionals. O'Melia was the closest to advancing, finishing fourth in the 800 and set a personal record time, and missed state by 1.13 seconds.

Senior Susanna Robert also had impressive showings for the 2016 season, and finished third in the 100 at the GNC meet. Senior Haley Klaver also had some notable runs and helped the Hodags out by running several events throughout the year.

Sophomore Ellen Padgett also remained consistent in both the 100 and 200 and showed great improvements throughout the season. And in the field events, sophomore Lexie Rick continued to improve and charted a third place finish in the GNC meet in the shot put.

Several underclassman on the girls' side earned all-conference honors for the 2016 season including Franson, Quinn, Hartman, and Rick. While sophomore Danielle Doughty and Padgett also earned top eight individual finishes at conference.

On the boys' side of action, senior Eric Tracy highlighted the team, and was the only athlete to return from last seasons' conference champion boys' 4x400 meter relay team.

Although for the 2016 season, Tracy predominately took part in the hurdles. He earned third place in the 110 high hurdles and the 300 intermediate hurdles at the GNC meet. Tracy was also the lone Hodag on the boys' side to earn all-conference recognition.

Josh Francisco and Alec Bess scored conference points in the 100-meter dash. And Colton Krueger (110 hurdles) and Reuben Guzik (300 hurdles) also charted individual points for the team. Max Brown also placed in the high jump and Anthony Kowalaski added points in the 400.

Both the girls' and guys' for the Hodags have young squads that will be returning several athletes. The boys' side was filled with a majority of underclassman including freshman Kowalski n Francisco. Sophomores Alex Monk, Krueger, and Guzik were also part of the hurdle crew for 2016 season.

On the girls' side, the Hodags will lose O'Melia, Roberts, and Klaver to graduation but have bright futures as the return a majority of their distance crew who advanced to sectionals. Tracy will be the biggest loss to graduation on the guys' side.

The 2016 RHS track team has take strides in the right direction this season, and although they lose some seniors to graduation the 2017 season had a lot to look forward to.

Invite @ Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School
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