The Rhinelander High School track team advanced 17 entries on to the WIAA Division 2 sectionals. The Hodag boys' won the regional title with 116 points to edge Lakeland by 17 points and the RHS girls' finished eighth out of the nine-team regional held at River Valley Bank Field in Minocqua.
Rhinelander finished with three first-place finishes and added an additional 14 top-four entries that will advance to sectionals on Thursday at Mosinee. The boys' 4x100, boys' 4x200, and junior Drake Martin won the high jump for the Hodags to earn regional titles
Nick Kriesel, Josh Francisco, AJ Kopplin, and Anthony Kowalski would win the 4x100 relay by 0.38 seconds over Mosinee with a winning time of 44.02 seconds. The boys' 4x200 also earned a win even after nearly behind disqualified on a exchange between the second and third leg of the race. The near drop put the RHS behind, but they still pushed through and managed to pick up the win. The team of Kriesel, Francisco, Caleb Olcikas, and Anthony Kowalski beat out Medford by 0.30 seconds with a time of 1:34.26.
Martin had a solid day on the field events, winning the long jump and also advancing to sectionals in the the triple jump and shot put. Martin and junior teammate Peyton Erikson went 1-2 in the long jump and would go 2-3 in the triple jump.
In the long jump Martin won with a mark of 19 feet, 2.75 inches. Erikson was right behind with a distance of 19-1.25. Francisco also added a sixth place finish in the long jump. Martin finished at 41-7.75 in the triple jump to finish runner-up behind Lakeland's Vincent Strong (42-11). Erikson was third at 41-6.5. Martin also added a fourth-place finish in the shot put with a personal best throw of 45- 11.75. Sophomore Alex Olson also qualified in the boys' discus with a throw of 114-8.
In the boys' high jump, Rhinelander advanced two jumpers on to sectionals; Kopplin and junior Calvin Schneider. Lochlan Siegmeier of Northland Pines and Schneider both cleared 6'2" but Siegmeier was awarded first based on number of jumps. Kopplin cleared 5'10" to finish fourth.
Along with winning a pair of sprint relays, the Hodags added a pair of top-four finishes in the boys’ sprints and a pair of top-four finishes in the hurdles. Francisco placed third in the 100-meter dash at 11.51 seconds and Kowalski also finished third in the 200 at 23.21 seconds. Olcikas finished sixth in the 200 at 24.45 seconds. In the 110 and 300 hurdles, freshman Cole Worrall finished third in each even to also advance. Worrall finished at 16.95 seconds (110) and 44.31 seconds (300).
On the girls' side of action, the Hodags advanced to sectionals in three events; the 200, 4x100, and high jump. Freshman Sage Flory is part of two of those qualifying events. Flory finished fourth in 200-meter dash with a person best time of 28.15 seconds and she just missed making the 100 by placing 5th at 13.61 seconds.
Isabella Anderson, Flory, Megan Brown, and Samantha Siefert paired up in the 4x100 relay and would recorded a fourth place finish at 54.63 seconds and earned the final qualifying spot for sectionals. And sophomore Rebecca Lawrence also will advance to sectionals after finishing fourth with a height of 4'10".
Looking ahead to Thursday's sectionals, the competition will increase as Rhinelander will be part of the 34-school event at Mosinee. Only the top four finishes in each event will qualify for the WIAA State meet in La Crosse. Field events will begin at 3:00P at Veterans Memorial Field.