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February 23, 2020

Rhinelander Daniel Gillingham competes in the 200-yard freestyle during a Great Northern Conference boys’ swim meet against Antigo at the Heck Family Community Pool Tuesday, Jan. 7. Gillingham won all four of his events and the Hodags defeated the Red Robins 130-32. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
Rhinelander Daniel Gillingham competes in the 200-yard freestyle during a Great Northern Conference boys’ swim meet against Antigo at the Heck Family Community Pool Tuesday, Jan. 7. Gillingham won all four of his events and the Hodags defeated the Red Robins 130-32. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
1/9/2020 7:33:00 AM
Hodag swimmers cruise past Antigo 130-32

Jeremy Mayo
Sports Editor

A short-handed Antigo squad was no match for the Rhinelander High School boys' swim team on Tuesday.

The Hodags won nine events, all of which were in 1-2 or 1-2-3 fashion, as they routed the Red Robins 130-32 at the Heck Family Community Pool.

Competing with only six swimmers, Antigo could not field a full lineup and did not have any entries in a couple of events - the 100 butterfly and the 400 freestyle relay. Nine different Hodags recorded at least one win as the Hodags improved to 6-0 in the Great Northern Conference.

While the scoreboard showed a convincing win for the Hodags, the stopwatch told a different tale, according to coach Jenny Heck. The meet was originally scheduled for Dec. 12, but postponed due to snow. Toward the end of the team's most rigorous stretch of training for the season, the Hodags decided to hold a short practice prior to the meet.

"I think the guys weren't as sharp I would have liked to have seen them," Heck said. "Even though we had a workout before the meet, they have to learn to swim through being tired and sore. We have some work to do on that. Given that, I know we have a tough schedule, but we can't let up on our training. We had to continue our training even with the meet (tonight)."

It was a good night for some of Rhinelander's freshmen. Daniel Gillingham won all four of his races, while Jack Antonuk scored three wins on the evening and finished a close second to Antigo's Brett Farmer, a returning state qualifier, in the 200-yard individual medley.

Gillingham outdueled a couple of Hodag upperclassmen in his two individual wins. He beat Devon Gaber by 1.56 seconds for the win in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2 minutes, 8.59 seconds. He also edged David King in the 500 freestyle by 1.24 seconds with a time of 5:46.14.

Antonuk (57.72) beat King for the win by 0.92 seconds in the 100 butterfly. Both Gillingham and Antonuk were on the team's winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.

"I think those freshmen really actually came through for us tonight," coach Heck said. "Maybe it's because they don't know any better. They just go out there and swim and not worry about what's ahead. That's what they have to do, go out and swim and race.

"I thought it was a fun race between Jack and Brett Farmer in the 200 IM. That's always good."

Individually, Joseph Heck (24.04) took the 500 freestyle for Rhinelander, Devon Gaber (51.38) won the 100 freestyle and Thaddeus Heck (1:07.46) took the 100 breaststroke.

Gillingham, Antonuk, Gavin Ostermann and Devon Gaber took the 200 medley relay for Rhinelander (1:48.31); Jacob Schoppe, Ostermann, Ashton Cole and Charlie Heck were the winning quartet in the 200 freestyle relay (1:43.50) and the team of Devon Gaber, Antonuk, Gillingham and Joseph Heck won the 400 freestyle relay (1:51.52).

Farmer scored wins in both of his individual events for Antigo, adding a victory in the 200 backstroke (59.09) to his win in the individual medley.

Coincidentally, Rhinelander's JV entries scored as many points as Antigo, with Marcus O'Malley, Daniel King and Billy Berwig scoring event victories.

"Billy Berwig had a great meet," coach Heck noted. "Times are really coming down. Some of these new guys are really seeing some improvements, which is really fun to see. I give Billy Berwig the swimmer of the meet."

There's no rest for the weary as the Hodags return to the pool tonight to host Medford in a GNC dual before heading to Ashwaubenon on Saturday for an invitational.

"We have another meet Thursday," Jenny Heck said. "We'll be better then and then we'll be ready to hit it hard on Saturday. Saturday's going to be a fast meet."

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at

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