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September 22, 2019

Rhinelander’s Makenna Winnicki swims the breaststroke leg of the 200-yard individual medley during a triangular girls’ swim meet at Lakeland Union High School in Minocqua Tuesday, Sept. 3. (Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)
Rhinelander’s Makenna Winnicki swims the breaststroke leg of the 200-yard individual medley during a triangular girls’ swim meet at Lakeland Union High School in Minocqua Tuesday, Sept. 3. (Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)
9/5/2019 7:34:00 AM
RHS swimmers take 10 events, win Lakeland triangular

Jeremy Mayo
Sports Editor

The Rhinelander High School girls' swim team appears to be in a good place as it prepares to start the Great Northern Conference season.

The Hodags won 10 of the 11 events Tuesday and won a three-team triangular meet at Lakeland Union High School in Minocqua. Rhinelander scored 90 points in a meet that used the traditional dual meet scoring system. Lakeland was second with 63 points. Wausau West had 17 points.

"It was really a fun meet and we were excited with how well the girls did," coach Jenny Heck said. "We won every event except the 200 free relay. We saw a lot of good things. We put freshmen in events where we really didn't know how well they could do and they really stepped up. Even some of the returning sophomores, juniors and seniors did well in events they don't always swim. We were pleased overall."

Makenna Winnicki and Malia Francis were four-event winners on the evening. Winnicki, a junior, took the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2 minutes, 20.18 seconds and later won the 100 freestyle (56.74). Francis won the events that book-ended intermission, taking the 50 freestyle (25.39) and the 100 butterfly (1:00.51). The two also swam on Rhinelander's winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.

Noelle St. Pierre scored individual wins for Rhinelander in the 200 freestyle (2:08.91) and the 100 breaststroke (1:15.29), Lisa Kennedy won the 100 backstroke (1:05.48) and Maria Heck took the 500 freestyle (6:08.05).

Kennedy and St. Pierre joined Winnicki and Francis on the winning medley relay (1:56.90) while Heck and Woodford swam with Winnicki and Francis in the 400 freestyle relay (4:05.34).

"I thought we had some really good splits in our relays," Jenny Heck said. "I was really pleased about that. I thought Noelle had a great meet, Sierra had a really good meet. I was pleased to see those girls step up."

Winnicki, Woodford and Heck went 1-2-4 in the 100 backstroke and the Hodags also had a runner-up finish in the 200 freestyle relay with the team of Kennedy, Genna Fugle, Abigale Johnson and St. Pierre.

Rhinelander's second entry in the 200 medley relay - Woodford, Fugle, Johnson and Heck - finished third in the race. Kennedy added a third for the Hodags in the 200 IM, Woodford was third in the 100 freestyle and Riley Miller took third in the 100 butterfly.

"Riley Miller had a great 100 fly, was third. We are able to see where are able to fill some spots in our lineup moving forward," coach Heck noted. "This was a regular meet order and it was a first for the freshmen who haven't swam this kind of meet before. This is how it will be, except for one other meet, this year. It was a good test to see what it's like to swim four events in a short amount of time and to kind of get used to the order and how it's going to run."

The meet was Rhinelander final tune-up before the Great Northern Conference dual meets season gets underway and Heck said the team is in a good position as it begins its quest for a conference title.

"We're ready to get going and I think we're in a great place to do really well this year," she said. "I think the kids are really excited. They see the potential and I think we're ready."

Lakeland, which figures to be one of the contenders in a wide open Great Northern Conference title race, scored its only win in the 200 freestyle relay. Returning all-conference swimmers Naomi Hamerla, Mariah Angove and Rylee Ahlborn were joined by freshman Brie Wescott to score an eight-second win over the Hodags in the event.

Rhinelander will see Lakeland next Thursday in a conference dual meet at the Heck Family Community Pool.

"They have some fast girls and some good coaching," Jenny Heck said. "They gave us a sneak peek at what we'll see next week but I think they have more to come we didn't see tonight."

Rhinelander begins conference play tonight at Colby/Abbotsford.

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at

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