The Rhinelander High School cross country team got the majority of its runners on the medal stand Tuesday in a six-team invite in Stratford.
The Hodag girls placed four runners in the top 15 overall to finish second in the team standings. The Hodag boys placed five in the top 15 and came away with a third-place finish.
"We had nine medal overall and we're dropping time like crazy," coach M.J. Laggis said. "The big thing we were talking about as a team is with the nucleus of our team all young and coming back next year, what are we going to do in the offseason? First off, we have to finish the year strong and keep improving. Then we have to set some goals for next year. It's exciting. We have a great group of kids."
All seven of Rhinelander's varsity runners placed in the top 19 overall in the girls' race as the Hodags finished five points behind Prentice for the team title.
Junior Abbey Henrichs was once again Rhinelander's leading runner as she placed sixth in a field of 53 runners with a time of 22 minutes, 17.7 seconds. She was joined in the top 10 by fellow Hodag junior Alison DeNamur, who was eighth (22:53.3).
Sage Flory finished 11th for Rhinelander and Emma Germain was 14th. Audrey Schiek barely missed out on a medal, finishing 16th. Ella Schiek was 18th and Megan Brown was 19th.
"We had four girls in the top 15 and they all dropped a ton of time. That was really good," Laggis said.
The Rhinelander boys had six runners crack the 20-minute barrier in the 5-kilometer race and place in the top 20 overall, but finished behind Athens and Stratford in the team tally.
Jacob Weddle posted his fastest time of the year for the Hodags, placing sixth overall with a time of 17:49.9. Sophomore Jaden Beske also put up a personal best as he came in eighth at 18:19.6.
"Jaden Beske just came out of nowhere and had a great race," Laggis said. "He was our No. 2. He and Cal (Laggis) dueled all the way to the end and Beske beat him out at the end. They both dropped a lot of time, with Weddle in front of them and two juniors behind them, you can look at our team and realize, 'Wow, we put the offseason work in, we could be solid.'"
Cal Laggis was 12th for Rhinelander (18:32.1). Daniel Goldsworthy finished 14th and JC Adams got the final spot on the medal stand with a 15th-place finish. Levi Smith placed 19th and Cody Ruetz was 27th in the field of 70 runners to round out the Hodag varsity.
Next up for Rhinelander, the Bill Smiley Invitational in Wausau this Saturday. The Hodags will race in the Division 1 category starting at 10:30 a.m.
"It's a huge meet, a lot of great teams and a great course," coach Laggis said. "I think sometimes it's a little overwhelming when you get there and you see all the talent there and all the big schools. You've got to stay within yourself, go out and compete. You never know what that race is going to bring. You just know there's going to be some top talent in the state there and it's a great measuring stick."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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