The Rhinelander High School Gymnastic team finished runner-up in the Great Northern Conference small division this season and had several highlight moments despite not sending any gymnasts to state. The Hodags were unable to keep their GNC Small title after claiming three crowns in the past five seasons, as Medford went 3-0 and had a much improved squad led by a pair of freshman.
Rhinelander knew the Raiders would prove to be their biggest competition this season. In the Hot Cocoa Invite in Medford, the season-opening invite RHS came up short and finished runner-up in the five team event. Medford would then edge the Hodags 121.575-116.825 in a dual meet at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium in the beginning of February.
That win would give the Raiders the lead in the GNC Small Division heading in the conference tournament. Medford continued to excel and would put up their season best of 128.125 points, which was 8.25 points ahead of RHS to earn the crown. Mosinee finished third behind RHS, Chequamegon placed fourth, and Lakeland was fifth in the GNC-Small standings. The Raiders would go on to finish second and earn the final state qualifying spot at sectionals in Antigo, posting a 126.325.
Rhinelander hosted the Snowflake Invite where they finished third out of eight teams, and were the top GNC-Small school to finish. Marshfield won the invite followed by Ashland. Medford charted fourth and Antigo finished fifth. RHS charted their first dual win of the season on December 11th when they beat Chequamegon 112.825-89.25. The Hodags continued to improve on their scores and would also earn dual wins over Mosinee (116.5-108.35) and Lakeland (117.425-67.275).
Medford would earn three, first-team all-GNC honors in the small division, all fro freshman Brooklyn Bilz (floor, bars, and vault). While fellow freshman Makala Ulrich of the Raiders earned second team all-GNC honors (beam, floor, bars, vault, and all-around). The freshman duo was large part of the much improved Raider team that would steal the GNC title from the Hodags.
This season Rhinelander was led by senior Raven Sturtevant, who would finish with first-team all-conference (small division) honors on beam with an 8.525 and was honorable mention in the GNC Small in the all-around with a score of 31.550. Also at the conference meet, Sturtevant placed fourth on the floor (8.225) and tied for fifth on the vault (8.2).
At sectionals Sturtevant was limited on all her floor moves due to a previous injury, but still finished sixth overall with an 8.2 and was an alternate to go to state. She would finish ninth on uneven bars, tied for ninth on the beam, and was 10th in the all-around. As a team the Hodags finished 4th overall at sectionals out of eight teams. Ashland finished 1st, Medford 2nd, and Antigo placed 3rd.
Despite not winning the GNC-Small title again this season or sending any gymnasts to the WIAA State Meet, the Hodags had several highlights that included many personal best records. Eight total gymnasts set personal best which was led by sophomore Autumn Shafer. She had personal bests in all four events this season as well the all-around. Lilli Bishop and Bridget Koser would earn personal bests in three events and the all-around.
Sturtevant would record three personal bests her senior season and Amber Briggs also had two best marks this season. Senior Harlie Zimmermann, Emily Radke, and Alyssa Scheurmann also all finished with a person best for the 2018-2019 season.
The Hodags will lose three seniors to graduation for next season; Sturtevant, Zimmermann, and Mikayla Evenstad. In her senior season, Evenstad missed the entire season due to a knee injury. Rhinelander will return Briggs and Radke for their senior season and will have large shoes to fill with the void of the teams’ top all-around gymnast Sturtevant as well as Zimmermann who started in two of the varsity events for the Hodags.
The Rhinelander/Antigo girls' hockey team just did not have the numbers the squad needed this year and would finish 4-5 in the Great Northern Conference and 5-13 overall this season under first-year head coach Tom Roeser. With plenty of talk of possible co-ops, the 2019-2020 is still uncertain. Despite the circumstances, Northern Edge still had plenty of highlights this season.
At the most, the Edge had 12 total players on the team which included six players from Rhinelander and six from Antigo.The team also had the smallest roster in the GNC. And their number dwindled toward the end of the season due to injuries and would limit them to only nine players.
The Edge was led by a pair of junior unanimous first-team all-conference players; Alicia Turunen and Madi Losch. Sophomores Jade Forster and Emily Kassler also earned honorable mention in the GNC.
Goalie Turunen earned top GNC goalie for the second straight season and finished with 353 saves in the conference and over 600 saves overall and a 3.89 goals against average and a 0.91 save percentage.
While Losch proved to be Northern Edges' top scorer despite playing most of her time on the blue line. Losch had 13 goals and six assists on the year and also earned honorable mention as an all-state defender by the Wisconsin Girls Hockey Coaches Association. Forster finished with seven goals, three assists in the GNC. And Kassler added five goals, four assists for the Edge.
Rhinelander/Antigo would record three of their conference wins this season against Medford who finished 0-9 in the GNC. Edge opened their season with a 4-3 victory over the Raiders and would also earn a 7-2 win December and blanked them 6-0 at the end of January.
The Edge also hosted the Hodagland Tournament at the Rhinelander Ice Arena where they dropped a pair of close games. First Rhinelander/Antigo would come up short to Marquette in a 2-1 overtime contest. And Northern Edge could not redeem themselves the next day where they fell 4-3 to Stoughton co-op on a last-second goal.
Rhinelander/Antigo's only other conference win came on February 11th when they pulled off a big 3-2 upset against Lakeland at the RIA. Taylee Tucker earned the game-winner for the Edge in the third period. Tucker recorded three goals and one assists during the conference season.
The Edge would also earn a forfeit win against Lakeland in the regional finals due to disqualification penalties Lakeland acquired. Northern Edge advanced to the sectional semifinals in playoffs, marking the their furthest run in program history. But the Edge could not keep up with Wisconsin Valley Union co-op and fell 4-0 to end their season. Turunen recorded 51-saves in their final contest.
Rhinelander/Antigo had no seniors on their lineup, so next season return their full squad and are looking to merge with Lakeland, which would likely be a seven-team co-op and would also include Tomahawk, Three Lakes, Mercer, and Wabeno. Although both school boards would need to agree on the plan along with additional filing with the WIAA, the merge would give both teams increased numbers for a more competitive 2019-2020 season.
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