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.