The Rhinelander High School boys' swim team was not at full strength Thursday night. Luckily, it did not need to be while facing an undermanned Antigo squad.
The Hodags won nine of the 11 events as they defeated the Red Robins for the second time in 10 days, this one a 117-35 victory at Antigo's McKenna Aquatic Center.
Rhinelander was plagued by illness. Cousins Thaddeus and Charlie Heck were among the notables out of the lineup as the Hodags competed with only 11 swimmers in the meet.
"We were glad we were up against a team who only had five swimming tonight," coach Jenny Heck said. "The whole meet was finished in 50 minutes. The kids all had four events and were all really tired after they finished. It was a good workout for everybody."
More by circumstance than design, Rhinelander used the meet to mix up the lineup and got some different faces into the winner circle. Freshman Marcus O'Malley was a two-event winner, taking the 100-meter freestyle (1 minute, 6.07 seconds) and as part of the 200 freestyle relay squad. Sophomore Ashton Cole was on the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams and was the runner-up in the 200 individual medley.
"Ashton Cole had a nice meet," coach Heck noted. "His 200-meter time (in the individual medley) was faster than the first time he swam the 200-yard time this year. He had a big drop in that. Marcus O'Malley had some nice relay splits and did well."
The Hodag coaches had to do some extra math after the meet as the McKenna Aquatic Center is the only short course meter pool in the GNC. The rest are short course yard pools. The coaches use conversion equations for each event to approximate what the times would have been in a standard pool. In particular, Heck said she was happy with the 1-2 finish by freshmen Daniel Gillingham (2:13.54) and Jack Antonuk (2:13.88) in the 200-meter freestyle.
"I also thought our 200 free was good. Daniel Gillingham got a win, which converted to about a 2:00, beat Jack Antonuk. That was a good race," she said.
Devon Gaber took the 50 freestyle (25.55) and the 100 breaststroke (1:21.35) for Rhinelander. Antonuk won the 400-meter freestyle for Rhinelander (4:49.05) and David King won the 200 individual medley (2:37.24).
Rhinelander again created equally-matched squads for the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. The Hodags' A squad of David King, Jacob Schoppe, Gavin Ostermann and Devon Gaber (2:05.93) nipped the B team of Carter Gaber, Joseph Heck, Antonuk and O'Malley to the wall by 0.02 seconds in the medley relay. In the 200 freestyle relay Gillingham, Cole, Ostermann and O'Malley won out by 0.37 seconds (1:55.28) over a relay comprised of Carter Gaber, Daniel King, Devon Gaber and David King.
"We had those racing relays. It keeps the kids very competitive with each other. As long as they have someone to race, they're going to give it their all," coach Heck said.
The team of Joseph Heck, Carter Gaber, Schoppe and Cole won the 400 freestyle relay (4:25.59).
The Hodags were scheduled to hop right back in the pool on Friday night, competing in the Appleton North Invite. Heck said she wasn't sure how many of the ill swimmers she would have back in the lineup for the Hodags' final non-conference race of the regular season.
Rhinelander (8-0 GNC) travels to Shawano this coming Thursday.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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