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Hodags win swim sectional in Wisconsin Rapids Submitted: 11/09/2019
Story By Mazie Vincent

Hodags win swim sectional in Wisconsin Rapids
WISCONSIN RAPIDS - The best swimmers in north central Wisconsin took their talents to sectionals at Wisconsin Rapids Saturday afternoon.

Many athletes broke personal records across the board, but the Rhinelander Hodags stole the show.

The Hodags won the Division Two Swim Sectional title by just one point. 

"I am so excited; we knew we had to have a close to perfect meet for this to happen and it really was that, to win by one point is so exciting and the kids did great, everyone did great and it was just beyond words," said Rhinelander swim coach Jenny Heck. 

Rhinelander posted five first place finishes, automatically qualifying for state. 

"They swam even faster than I thought they would," Heck said. "They just kept getting more excited. They knew they could swim fast. It just got everyone excited knowing we could do it."

Junior Makenna Winnicki and sophomore Malia Francis took the gold in four different events. 

"It was a really amazing feelings, I've never been more proud of this team before," Winnicki said. "I am really happy with what the team has accomplished this season and it's just really good to see all of the hard work we've put in this season finally come to a dream come true.

The wins and the first places finishes mean a little big more to Winnicki. 

Her mom is the assistant coach and has been her her side for every single stroke. 

"It shows how fortunate I am to be on this journey and show how much I've improved and for her to see my success makes me really happy," Winnicki said.

Rhinelander wasn't the only Northwoods team to shine. 

The Lakeland Thunderbirds qualified in three individual events and two relays. 

"We were just telling them, place does not matter, time is what matters," said Lakeland head coach Christine Garcia. "So they were really just focused on what they had to do in their lane and get their best time."

Merrill, the reining sectional champs finished fifth. 

The Bluejays will send two relays and three individual swimmers to state. 

"Every one of them had a personal best swim today they swam their hearts and I am just beaming with joy, I am so proud of them," said Merrill swim coach Kristie Winter. 

A few other notable performances to point out, Kylee Theiler from Tomahawk qualified in the 100 and 200 yard freestyle.

The Medford Raiders will send their 200 yard medley relay to Madison, alongside Erin Bergman in the 100 yard backstroke.




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