The Rhinelander High School boys' track team won its fifth straight outdoor meet Friday as it sets its sights on a bigger title today.
Rhinelander won nine events and had a host of other top five finishes as it took first place in the home division of the Hodag Quad at Mike Webster Stadium Friday. The Hodag girls scored two wins and placed third in a competitive girls' field.
The meet was pushed back one day because of rain and cold weather, but a Hodag team that doesn't always get the opportunity to host track meets was happy to compete on home soil.
"It was just exciting to be on home turf, see all our parents, the support from the community and the kids cheering each other on," said assistant coach Melissa Krueger, who was serving as the head coach Friday with Aaron Kreamer out of town to attend to a family matter. "We are very excited that we were able to host this home meet. We are very proud of our facilities. We believe that they are really nice facilities in the area and we're happy that teams still showed up tonight despite the last-minute schedule change. Some kids had other plans. We came in and we just wanted to have a good time and a good meet. I think we did that."
The Hodag sprinting crew shined though once again, however this time they didn't rewrite the record book. The Hodags put their top sprinting lineup together again in the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays to go after the school records they set the previous Friday at the Otto Bacher Invitational.
The team of Nick Kriesel, Josh Francisco, AJ Kopplin and Anthony Kowalski took the 4x100 with a time of 44.48 seconds, about seven-tenths of a second off school-record pace. The team of Kriesel, Francisco, Caleb Olcikas and Kowalski was about a second off their record time in the 4x200, still winning the event at 1:33.30.
"Watching the boys' 4x1 and 4x2 take first again, that just another experience for them on home turf - very exciting to watch and it's the culmination of hard work for them, not just this year but over several years," Krueger said. "It's exciting to see their competitive spirit. That chemistry works really well in a relay race. Each one is pushing the other to try to get better. That's really fun to see."
Francisco (11.38) led a 1-3-4 finish for the Hodags in the 100 with Olcikas third and Kriesel fourth; Kowalski (23.16) and Olcikas went 1-2 in the 200 and Daniel Ritchie (55.91) led a 1-3-4 finish in the 400 with Aden Bergman third and Ty Welk fourth.
Rhinelander added another 1-2 on the boys side as teammates Calvin Schneider and Kopplin dueled in the high jump. Schneider cleared 6 feet, 2 inches to take the win.
"Watching the high jump is quite an experience with these boys. They're really doing great," Krueger noted.
Cole Worrall added wins for the Hodags in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, Brock Snyder had a personal-best toss of 109-10 to win the discus and the Hodags scored a win in the 4x800 with the team of Konnor Kennedy, Daniel Goldsworthy, JC Adams and Robert Masini.
"Our boys 4x8 took first place, that was exciting," said Krueger, who oversees the team's distance runners. "They're dropping time and working hard throughout the season to improve together. Our girls' 4x8 team, they're dropping time. The smiles on their faces and to see how much fun they are having, it makes coaching just that much sweeter. Dropping time and watching kids have fun, that's what makes coaching fun."
Freshman Sage Flory had a strong day for the Rhinelander girls. She won the 100 meters (13.66), took second in the 200 and was part of the Hodags' runner-up 4x100 squad.
"Watching Sage win that 100-meter dash was really fun and I'm really happy for her," Krueger said.
Rebecca Lawrence cleared 5 feet in the high jump to score the win in that event.
In the sprints, Emma Germain was second in the 400, Megan Brown took third in the 100 and Lila Bielefeldt was fourth in the 300. Rhinelander finished second in all four relay races. Ambre Philippot was third in the 800, Aryssa Zasada was third in the 100 hurdles, Germain took third in the triple jump and Olivia Monk, Beth Theilman and Lilli Bishop all tied for third in the pole vault. Ellie Van Camp was fourth in the 3,200, Shawna Will was fourth in the shot put and Morgan Johnson took fifth in both the 100 and 300 hurdles.
On the boys' side Alexx Huff finished second in the long jump, Will Swanson was third in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, Goldsworthy finished third in the 800, Snyder was third in the shot put, Kriesel finished third in the triple jump and Isaiah Piosalan took fifth in the pole vault.
The Hodag boys won their home meet by 22 points over Chequamegon. Three Lakes/Phelps edged Chequamegon by five points for the title in the girls' division.
Now attention shifts to Minocqua for today's Great Northern Conference meet, where the Hodag boys team looks to win Rhinelander's first track and field conference title since 1967.
"I think we're at a point in the season where the hard training is done, the competition has taken place," Krueger said. "We know who the competition is, what they're running, jumping and throwing and we're exited. We're excited to get to conference and show the rest of the conference what we can do."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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