The Rhinelander High School boys' swim team scored a number of top-10 finishes on Saturday as it placed fifth in the Ashwaubenon Jaguar Invitational.
"We saw some really good time drops and some good places in the top 16 by a lot of our swimmers," Rhinelander coach Jenny Heck said of her team's performance against a number of fast Division 1 and 2 schools. "A lot of the swimmers that weren't able to place (in the top 16) also had good time drops. Overall, a great meet, and a lot of good racing."
The Hodags had six top-five finishes in the meet, led by strong performances in the 100-yard butterfly and the 100 breaststroke. Senior David King tied for second in the butterfly with a time of 57.70 seconds and fellow senior Thaddeus Heck was the runner-up in the breaststroke with a season-best time of 1:04.77. Freshman Jack Antonuk was not far behind in both of those races. He finished third in the breaststroke (1:04.81) and fourth in the butterfly (57.85).
"I think David and Jack Antonuk in the 100 fly did well. David King had a great meet today. He placed well," coach Heck said. "Our 100 breast, another great event with Thaddeus second and Jack Antonuk third with season-best times. That was very helpful."
Rhinelander added a fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay with the squad of Daniel Gillingham, Devon Gaber, Joseph Heck and Charlie Heck (1:33.70).
The Hodags placed three swimmers in the top 10 of the 50 freestyle, with Gaber in fifth (22.70), Gillingham ninth (23.91) and Joseph Heck 10th (23.96). Gaber added a sixth-place swim in the 100 freestyle (50.45).
"Our sprinters did OK, but I think they learned some valuable lessons from when you're swimming a whole race of fast guys, it's a whole different race," coach Heck said. "I think they learned what they need to work on - turns and underwaters. I think that was a valuable experience."
King added an eighth-place finish in the 100 backstroke (1:01.24) and the Hodags placed eighth with a pair of their relays. The 400 freestyle really team of King, Joseph Heck, Antonuk and Charlie Heck was eighth (3:39.01), as was Rhinelander's second entry in the 200 medley relay of Carter Gaber, Antonuk, Gavin Ostermann and Charlie Heck (1:49.03). Rhinelander's A relay in the 200 medley was disqualified due to a false start.
Rhinelander, with 228 1/2 points, was second among the Division 2 schools in the 11-team field, behind only Ashwaubenon (256). The Hodags' two closest rivals in the Great Northern Conference - Tomahawk and Lakeland - finished right behind Rhinelander in sixth and seventh.
Coming off back-to-back lopsided dual meet wins over Antigo and Medford, Jenny Heck said Saturday's meet was a good opportunity to swim against some fast competition.
"Every heat was a race. Every swimmer had someone to race against who was their speed," she said. That's what really makes the kids go fast. There's someone right there to look at, someone to race. They want to win. They want to beat some of these kids they don't get to swim against very often."
Rhinelander will have another chance to swim against many of the same teams this Friday at the Appleton North Invite. The Hodags (7-0 Great Northern) travel to Antigo Thursday for a conference dual meet.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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