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Several top-five finishes as Raiders gear up for sectionals

Several top-five finishes as Raiders gear up for sectionals Several top-five finishes as Raiders gear up for sectionals




The Medford Raiders got award-winning finishes in two relays, earned four more top-five individual placements and hopefully set a tone for bigger things to come at Friday’s Great Northern Conference championship meet, which they hosted at UW-Stevens Point.

As expected, the Rhinelander Hodags finished off a perfect Great Northern Conference season by winning the meet, though it was fairly close. They beat Lakeland 309-288 to seal their conference championship, their first as a member of the GNC.

Medford finished fifth with 149 points to wind up fourth in the overall final standings with 18 team points, just ahead of Tomahawk (16) and behind Lakeland (24) and the Ladysmith Co-op (22), who they were tied with going into the meet.

“Overall it was a great meet,” Medford head coach Betsy Berends said. “The girls swam very well, which was good to see. This meet is always a gamble with where they are in their taper. I am really excited to see what they will do next weekend with even more rest. I see some really good times in their future.”

The combination of Erin Bergman, Faith Piller, Morgan Ball and Kami Razink earned All-GNC awards in the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relays. In the medley, they were the second- place finishers in 1:59.36, which was 5.99 seconds behind the top team from Rhinelander and their best time together this season by a fraction of a second. They were 0.83 seconds ahead of thirdplace Tomahawk. Medford’s team of Savannah Brandt, Kirsten Weix, Brooke Wegerer and Alicia Venzke was 14th in 2:32.69.

“We started the meet off with a bang in the 200 medley relay,” Berends said. “We have been working on this relay all season and it was nice to come out second at conference.”

In the 400, those four Raiders earned honorable mention by taking third in 4:04.48 behind Lakeland (3:46.93) and Rhinelander (3:55.13). Medford’s Maddie Williams, Wegerer, Lacey Brandner and Aiden Denzer were 10th in 4:29.32 and Savannah Brandt, Shaniah Brandt, Olivia Rau and Weix were 16th in 5:05.73.

Individually, Medford’s top placements were fourths from Bergman and Ball.

Bergman got hers in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:04, while Williams was eighth in 1:15.81, nearly a personal-best, and Venzke was 18th in a personal-best 1:24.29. Rhinelander’s Malia Francis won the race in 57.21 seconds.

Bergman added a sixth-place time of 58.02 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle, equaling her best time of 2019. Piller was 15th in 1:01.89, Razink was 16th at 1:02.58 and Rau was 24th in a personal-best 1:14.93. Tomahawk star Kylee Theiler won in 53.7 seconds.

Ball took fourth in the 100-yard butterfl y at 1:05.7, while Savannah Brandt was 12th in a personal-best 1:22.74, Wegerer was 14th in a personal-best 1:25.22 and Venzke was 16th in 1:27.63. Hodag Makenna Winnicki won the conference title in 1:01.49.

Ball earlier took seventh in the 200yard freestyle at 2:16.42, the time she’s had in three tries in this event this fall. Brandner placed 14th in 2:25.22, Weix was 16th in 2:28.78 and Shaniah Brandt was 22nd at 2:46.12 in a race won by Theiler in 1:57.23.

Piller scored 10 points with a fifthplace time of 1:17.38 in the 100-yard breaststroke, while Denzer was seventh in 1:20.45 and Rau set her new best time of 1:36.46 while placing 20th. Lakeland’s Mariah Angove won it in 1:10.67. Denzer was just off her personal-best time while taking fifth in the 200-yard individual medley at 2:33.38, while Williams did set a new best at 2:41.03, good for 11th. Francis won easily in 2:09.98.

Berends said the 500-yard freestyle was one of Medford’s highlight events of the meet. Brandner took sixth in 6:23.2, her best time of 2019, Weix was 12th in 6:42.27 and Shaniah Brandt was 17th at 7:08.98. Ladysmith freshman Madeline Bunton won in a strong time of 5:41.83.

“Some girls had significant drops in time,” Berends said. “Kirsten had a PR in the 200 free cutting over eight seconds. She then came back and cut another eight seconds in the 500 freestyle. She has been looking good in practice, I’m happy to see her times are reflecting all her hard work. The 500 was a big timedropping event with Shaniah cutting almost 20 seconds. Lacey rounded out the trio by breaking the 6:25 barrier she’s been stuck at all season.”

Razink was Medford’s only entrant in the 50-yard freestyle and took ninth in 27.42 seconds. Lakeland’s Rylee Ahlborn sprinted to victory in 25.52 seconds. Williams, Wegerer, Brandner and Denzer were Medford’s top finishers in the 200-yard freestyle relay, taking 11th in 2:00.25. Venzke, Rau, Shaniah Brandt and Savannah Brandt were 17th in 2:17.67. Lakeland beat Rhinelander by 2.12 seconds to win the event championship.

Final team scores were: 1. Rhinelander, 309; 2. Lakeland, 288; 3. Ladysmith Co-op, 226; 4. Tomahawk, 161; 5. Medford, 149; 6. Colby-Abbotsford, 111; 7. Antigo, 55; 8. Mosinee, 3.

Next up for Medford is the WIAA Division 2 sectional meet, which will be held Saturday at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School after many years at UWStevens Point. The meet starts at 1 p.m. and features all eight GNC programs as well as Menomonie, Merrill, Rice Lake, River Falls, Wausau East and Wittenberg- Birnamwood. Event champions automatically qualify for state while everyone else has to wait and see if they’re among the top 12 non-winning times in each event statewide that qualify for state. The state meet is set for Nov. 15 in Madison.

“Overall I’m very happy with how the girls did,” Berends said. “This is a hard meet for us usually because they just started taper. They feel slow, but that’s what we want this week so next week they can really fly. State is always our goal and that hasn’t changed. I expect to see us there again this year.”

Erin Bergman

Faith Piller

Morgan Ball

Kami Razink