Russell Benoy poses with the Rhinelander High School boysí swim teamís high point award, presented to him during the teamís awards banquet at Holiday Acres Resort Tuesday, March 6. Benoy was one of two Hodag swimmers to receive a special honor from the team during the banquet. Mathew Herman, voted the teamís most improved swimmer, was unavailable for the photograph. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
3/10/2018 7:33:00 AM Benoy, Herman honored at boys' swim banquet
The Rhinelander High School boys' swim team celebrated its 2017-18 season with a banquet Tuesday at Holiday Acres Resort, handing its two top honors to junior Russell Benoy and senior Mathew Herman.
Benoy earned the team's high point award while Herman was voted the team's most improved swimmer.
As his award's name suggests, Benoy earned the most points for the boys' swim team during the season through finishes in individual and relay races. He was the only member of the team to qualify for the WIAA Division 2 state meet in the maximum of four events - qualifying in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races as well as the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays.
"We could really move him around and that was really good," coach Jenny Heck said of Benoy. "When it came down to the championship season, we really focused on the 50 and 100 free. He had four events at state, which is really cool. He had a great year. It's hard to improve those 50 and 100 times, all those little tenth, hundredths (of a second) and he just kept getting faster and faster. We knew every time we put Russell in a relay he was going to give it his all and he provided tons of points for us."
Herman, a first-year competitive swimmer, showed significant time drops throughout the season, which culminated at WIAA sectionals last month in Hudson.
"That was pretty impressive, a new guy just starting out and to actually to be fast enough - I mean look at his times at sectionals - he's got a stroke that doesn't ever look fast and I think Jenny (Heck) and I both about fell over when we saw his times," coach Marna Winnicki said. "He went 25.9 in the 50 and under a minute in the 100."
The coaches recognized all 10 swimmers on the team and presented all-Great Northern Conference certificates to those who placed in the top three in at least one event at the GNC championship meet Feb. 2 in Minocqua - Benoy, David King, Joseph Heck, Thaddeus Heck, Martin Hoger and Devon Gaber. Those same six all qualified for the WIAA state meet with their performances a week later at sectionals. Herman joined them at state as an alternate.
Additionally the team voted on captains for the 2018-19 season with Benoy and Thaddeus Heck maintaining the captaincy for the upcoming season.
"It was an interesting year," said Winnicki who, along with Jenny Heck, was hired to coach the boys' team shortly before the season began. "I hadn't coached the (high school) boys' before. That was a learning experience for me. Boys are very different to coach than girls. That being said, I had a ton of fun. I was really impressed with you guys. Everyone got along real well. I thought the camaraderie on the team was really special and I hope you guys continue to work hard and enjoyed yourselves and are ready for next year. I think you guys are going to do a great job next year."
The Hodags had the fifth-best record in GNC duals, going 3-6-1, and placed fourth out of six teams at the GNC meet. A roster low on numbers hampered the team's ability to score points during the conference season. The Hodags turned it around, however, placing second among GNC schools - and third overall - at sectionals where a greater emphasis was placed on top finishes.
"When it came down to it, we were swimming faster than anyone else in the conference," Heck said. "I think it's only going to get better from here and I was just really impressed with how they did."
Freelancer Bob Mainhardt contributed to this report.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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