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Battle for 2nd headlines GNC meet




The 12th annual Great Northern Conference girls swim meet will take place Friday, Nov. 1 at UW-Stevens Point’s Aquatics Center with little suspense expected in the team competition.

The Rhinelander Hodags are heavy favorites after a down year from the fivetime GNC title champion Tomahawk Hatchets. The meet is set to begin at 5 p.m. Medford will host for the first time in eight years. The last time Medford hosted the GNC meet was 2011, when they came out on top at the MASH pool.

After the conference duals, Rhinelander sits on top of the GNC standings with a four-point cushion. With a 7-0 dual-meet record and potentially the top seed in eight out of the 11 events, the Hodags appear to be a lock to win the championship.

With the Ladysmith Co-op, Lakeland and Medford all at a 5-2 conference record on the season –– and meets between the teams being fairly evenly matched –– the race for second place will be something to watch. It should be interesting to see how the teams stack up with the GNC meet being more of an invitational setting as compared to the dual-meet format.

Friday’s meet will determine both individual honors and final team placements. Individual winners in each event earn All-Great Northern Conference first-team awards, second-place finishers earn second-team honors and third-place finishers get honorable mention.

Tomahawk returns 2018 swimmer of the year Kylee Theiler, but after losing four first-team all-conference swimmers, the Hatchets dropped to fifth place in conference standings with a 3-4 dual-meet record.

Based on times from this season’s GNC dual meets, Medford’s highest-ranked entries include the third-ranked 200-yard medley relay team at 1:59.94; junior Erin Bergman, who ranks fourth in the 100yard backstroke at 1:03.94, fifth in the 500-yard freestyle at 5:48.4 and seventh in the 100-yard breastroke at 1:17.91; junior Morgan Ball, who ranks fifth in the 100-yard butterfly at 1:04.51; senior Faith Piller, who is ranked sixth in the 100yard breaststroke at 1:15.75, and freshman Aiden Denzer, who is ranked eighth in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:18.21.