The 2019-2020 Rhinelander High School boys' swim team had another stellar resume this season including dominating the Great Northern Conference as well as winning the WIAA Division 2 Wisconsin Rapids Sectional and competing at the WIAA State tournament. Here is a look back at their year and what to look forward to for the 2020-2021 season.
For the second straight year the Hodags went undefeated in the GNC and were able to break 100 points in all 10 of their conference duals to finish 10-0. RHS also hosted the GNC meet at the Heck Family Community Pool on Friday, February 7th. The Hodags recorded 417 points at the meet, marking the second-most ever scored in the conference meet. RHS dominated the field winning by over 132 points over runner-up Tomahawk and would win four events a well as have one top-three finish in all 11 races.
The Hodags depth proved to be the difference, and ten different RHS swimmers earned all-conference honors by placing in the top three in at least one event. And 12 Hodag swimmers reached the podium by earning top-six finishes. There strength was especially evident in their relay races where the Hodag A and B entries all placed in the top-four in the three races.
Senior Thaddeus Heck broke the conference record in the 100-yard breaststroke as part of his four top-four finishes on the evening. RHS was also narrowly missed beating conference records in the 200-freestyle and 200-medley relays. Heck took down the GNC title set by Lakeland's Tyler Teichmiller b a tenth of a second in his final high school race in their own pool. Senior Devon Gaber also earned all-GNC in all four of his events, highlighted by his win in the 100-yard freestyle.
Rhinelander would continue with their success at the WIAA Division 2 Sectionals in Wisconsin Rapids, where the Hodags earned their second straight sectional title out of 11 teams. RHS won two events on the day and bettered their seed time in all 21 entries and had 18 entires make the top-eight to win with 336 points, and Tomahawk was runner-up with 278 points.
The Hodags automatic state berths were the 200-freestyle relay where freshman Daniel Gillingham, Devon Gaber, junior Joseph Heck, and freshman Charlie Heck edged Lakeland with a time of 1:31.96. Thaddeus Heck had the other automatic ticket to state by winning the 100-yard breaststroke over Lakeland senior Tyler Teichmiller by 0.30 seconds (1:03.56).
RHS also advanced to state in the 200 medley relay (Joseph Heck, Thaddeus Heck, King, Devon Gaber) and the 400 freestyle relay (Gillingham, King, freshman Jack Antonuk, and Charlie Heck. Gaber advanced in the 50 and 100 freestyle and Joseph Heck also advanced in the 50 free. King (100-fly), Thaddeus Heck (100-breast), and Antonuk (200-IM) also advanced for the Hodags.
Although the Hodags had a strong showing in the GNC as well as at sectional, they did not produce the same state results like last season where they had two state champions, two runner-up finishes as well as two other podium finishes. This season RHS was unable to reach the podium in their nine entries and finishes 14th overall in Madison out of 33 teams. Lakeland finished 10th and Tomahawk placed 17th.
Rhinelander will lose three seniors to graduation; Thaddeus Heck, Devon Gaber, and David King. All three Hodag seniors played a large role in the success of not only individual events but relays as well. Although RHS will lose three leaders next season, they return plenty of talent and are optimistic of the upcoming season. Rhinelander will bring back seven all-conference including state swimmers; Joseph Heck, Charlie Heck, Daniel Gillingham, and Jack Antonuk. The Hodags will also return Jacob Schoppe, Gavin Osterman, Ashton Cole, Cooper Kovac, Billy Berwig, Marcus O'Malley, Eli Lundt, Daniel King, and Carter Caber.
The Hodags will be looking to earn another GNC title in 2020-2021 but will likely not have the same depth as they had this season after losing three of their top swimmers. Lakeland will lose two of their top swimmers to graduation; Brandon Boh and Tyler Teichmiller and Tomahawk will also lose Travis Phillips. Despite the loses Rhinelander will strive to be at the top of the conference again this upcoming season.
The Northern Edge girls' hockey co-op team merged for the 2019-2020 season and proved they are headed in the right direction and had plenty of highlights for the season. The Edge finished 14-9-0 on the season, marking their first winning season with double digit wins in five years, dating back to the 2015-2016 season. Here is a look back at their season and what to look forward to next season.
Northern Edge was previously a co-op between Rhinelander, Antigo, and Three Lakes and would extend their merge with Lakeland/Tomahawk co-op in the off-season. Both teams were low on numbers and with the combined roster brought the team total to about 23 skaters. Despite the obstacles such as deciding on practice and games locations, everything worked out, with a majority of practices happening in Rhinelander, which was the most central location of all the participating schools.
With the merge, came added depth to the roster, which was just what the Edge needed . Lakeland Juniors Izzy Boyer and Kate Vizanko would prove to be an extra scoring threat this season. Boyer finished the season with 13 goals, 12 assists while Vizanko was not far behind with 12 goals and 11 assists.
Lakeland also brought in a pair of freshman to add depth to their defense; Maria Gironella and Caitlyn Fesnick. Fesnick finished the year with nine assists, three goals and Gironella recorded seven assists and two goals. And junior Anna Maulson gave more depth in the net for the Edge and split time with senior Alicia Turunen. Maulson finished 6-5 on the year with a .911 save percentage and a 2.96 goals against average. Turunen went 7-4 with a .927 save percentage and 2.34 goals against average and also added three goals and three helpers when Maulson was in the net and would earned the teams' MVP award for the third time in her career.
Northern Edge took some time to gel together early in the season and started 0-3 with losses to Central Wisconsin, Green Bay East, and Northland Pines. The Edge then broke the streak with a 10-3 win over Medford before heading into the Hodagland Tournament where the varsity went undefeated at 3-0. Northern Edge actually split into two teams to add six teams in the tournament and combined went 5-1 overall.
The Edge would again fall to Central Wisconsin and Pines, but by much closer margins before they again bounced back and would win eight straight contests from there. Northern Edge would go 2-0 in the Beaver Dam Triangular and would also pick up wins over Medford, Wisconsin Valley Union, Northland Pines, Glacier, and Lakeshore. One of their highlight victories was the 4-1 upset over the Eagles on January 27th at the Eagle River Sports Arena.
The Edge will lose five seniors to graduation including four-year starters; Turunen, Madi Losch, and Lauren Kefalinos. Northern Edge will also lose Rhinelander senior Brooke Beauchaine and Lakeland senior Ashley Albee. Losch was the leading scorer for the edge and finished with 16 goals, 10 assists and earned honorable mention All-State from the Wisconsin Girls Hockey Coaches Association for the second straight year.
Despite losing five seniors, the Edge still brings back a number of scoring threats for next season including Boyer, Vizanko, Emily Kassler, Evelyn LeVeque, and Wyndi Saari who all recorded four or more goals on the year. Also with the merge, the Northern Edge co-op with prove to still have depth and have plenty to look forward to next season.
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