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September 17, 2019

9/7/2019 7:33:00 AM
Hodag swimmers sweep Colby/Abby in GNC opener

Jeremy Mayo
Sports Editor


The Rhinelander High School girls' swim team shared the wealth Thursday in its Great Northern Conference opener.

The Hodags won all 11 events, and had eight different swimmers contribute first-place finishes, as they routed Colby/Abbotsford 113-57 in Colby.

Rhinelander dominated the event, finishing 1-2 in three events and taking first and third in six others.

"We were really proud of the girls," coach Jenny Heck said. "They swam really well. We had a big talk with them about how they need to race hard all of their events and really give it their all. We provided them a lot of opportunities to race, even against themselves, relay against relay.

"It was fun to not only see the girls get the win, but the second, third, fourth and fifth places we were really impressed with too."

The Hodags used the meet against Colby/Abby - a team that placed sixth in the GNC last year and had no returning all-conference swimmers - as an opportunity to mix up the lineup and race each other.

"We do that when we can so we can see where they're at," Heck said. "It also provides different ways that we can line up relays and things. They mostly all had different events and I think they did really well with those."

That tactic was no more apparent than in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. In the 200 medley the squad of Lisa Kennedy, Malia Francis, Abigale Johnson and Jaylen Janssen took the race with a time of 2 minutes, 5.75 seconds, edging out teammates Makenna Winnicki, Noelle St. Pierre, Maria Heck and Gussie Gruett by 2.21 seconds.

It was a similar story in the 200 freestyle relay where Sierra Woodford, Genna Fugle, St. Pierre and Francis (1:50.08) edged the quartet of Maria Heck, Johnson, Winnicki and Kennedy by 1.25 seconds.

"That was really fun," Jenny Heck said. "I think that got the kids motivated, especially in the 200 relays, the A and the B relays were racing for the win and the C relays were able to go after Colby and race them. We had a lot of great racing opportunities."

Francis was Rhinelander's only four-event winner on the night. In addition to the wins in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays, she claimed victory in the 200 freestyle (2:04.64) and the 100 breaststroke (1:09.25).

"Malia Francis had a great meet. She had two personal bests and she had a great split in (the 200 freestyle relay)," coach Heck said. "Her 100 breaststroke was a personal best for her as well. She's really enjoying, I think, high school swimming and enjoying the competition and racing more frequently than she has in the past."

St. Pierre (2:30.96) led a 1-2 finish with Maria Heck in the 200 individual medley. St. Pierre also won the 500 freestyle (5:52.00). Winnicki added wins in the 50 freestyle (26.23) and 100 backstroke (1:03.48). Kennedy won the 100 butterfly (1:06.75) and Woodford claimed the closest victory of the night in the 100 freestyle (1:01.06), beating Colby/Abby's Elizabeth Stange to the wall by 0.13 seconds.

"Sierra Woodford had a great meet and she was able to come out with a win and a best time. That was really exciting," Jenny Heck said.

Johnson, Janssen, Fugle and Woodford capped off the night with a win in the 400 freestyle relay. Woodford added a third-place finish in the 50 freestyle, Kennedy was third in the 200 freestyle, Fugle took third in the 100 freestyle, Ella Cordy was third in the 500 freestyle and Phoebe Moran was third in the 100 breaststroke. Rhinelander also finished third with its other entry in the 400 freestyle relay of Maddie Mathwig, Gruett, Moran and Cordy.

"The 100 breaststroke, it was really fun to see Hannah Rumney fight for the fourth place," coach Heck noted. "There were a lot of races where the kids really came on strong at the end and touched someone out."

Rhinelander (1-0 Great Northern) will return to the pool next Thursday against Lakeland in a GNC dual meet at the Heck Family Community Pool. Rhinelander beat Lakeland in a non-conference triangular meet earlier this week in Minocqua.

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at jeremy@rivernewsonline.com.





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