Hatchet swimmers busy breaking school records as new season begins: Team finishes in 3rd at Wisconsin Rapids Invite
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports and Nature Editor
The Tomahawk Hatchet boys’ swim team set two new school records but it wasn’t enough as a tough Rhinelander team snuck out of town with the 105-65 conference win in the season opener.
Despite dropping the season opener, the Hatchet swimmers showed right out of the gates just how powerful of a team they will be this season. In the first event of the evening at Hatchet Pool, the 200-yard medley relay team of Keaton Jed, Zach Hanse, Travis Phillips and Trey Miller smashed the old school record of 1:50.49 set in 2018 – breaking it by almost three seconds. The relay tapped the finish line in 1:47.73 to rewrite the record books. The only downside was the group finished in 2nd place behind a speedy Hodag group that finished in 1:46.63 to win the race.
“We had sure hoped that the loss of several key Hodag senior swimmers at the end of last season would make them more approachable as a team, however they have since rallied, growing to a total of 16 swimmers,” stated Hatchet head coach Marion Kohl in noting many of the Rhinelander swimmers are former club swimmers and/or younger siblings of current team members with solid early season skills. “Consequently our final team score tonight was almost exactly what it was last season versus the Hodags, so we’ll certainly be looking at them as the team to narrow the field with later in the season.”
The other Hatchet new school record swim was turned in by a freshman competing in his first varsity meet. Zach Hanse was very impressive in the 100 breaststroke finishing in 1:06.76 to crush the old record set all the way back in 2007 by then senior, Eric Theut, in a time of 1:10.13.
“Again, we expect that Zach will improve upon this time throughout the upcoming season, so we won’t be changing the record board until the season is all said and done,” coach Kohl said in adding ironically, Hanse placed 3rd overall in the race behind the Hodags Thaddeus Heck at 1:06.49 and Jack Antonuk at 1:06.72 – just .27 seconds separated the top three swimmers in the race.
Also turning in some fantastic performances to start the season, the Hatchets would turn in four 1st place finishes against Rhinelander. Senior Brady Tjugum set a new personal record in the 200 free finishing in 2:00.43 to win the race. To go along with his new school records in the 100 breast and as a leg of the 200 medley relay, Z. Hanse also scored a 1st in the 200 Individual IM with a time of 2:16.33 and senior Travis Phillips won both the 50 free in 22.22 and finished the 100 butterfly in 54.10 – almost three seconds faster than the Hodag’s David King’s 57.28 2nd place swim.
“We are especially proud of our four brand new swimmers this season who are all complete novices to the sport of swimming including junior Noah Buckwalter, freshman Taje Casey and seniors Jack Lacina and Austin Snow. Each one of them completed three events with decent early season times and no stroke disqualifications,” coach Kohl said. “That’s a lot to be said with just nine days of practice under their belts. They have already learned a ton and will continue to refine and improve as the season proceeds.”
The home opener against Rhinelander was just the start of a marathon start to the season as Tomahawk is scheduled to compete in seven meets before getting a chance to catch their collective breaths over the holiday break.
On Thursday Tomahawk traveled to Antigo and easily took care of a Red Robin team with just six swimmers. The Hatchets won all the events but one, the 400-meter free that was by three-time state qualifier Brett Farmer.
The Hatchets won all three relays on the night and also got individual victories from T. Phillips in two events, K. Jed won the 50 free, Caleb Kretzschamer took 1st in 100 buttrefly, T. Miller won the backstroke and Z. Hanse claimed victory in the breaststroke.
Over the weekend Tomahawk traveled to Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln to take part in an eight-team invite made up of a field of Division 1 and Division 2 schools and finished in 3rd place with 325 points behind DeForest (402) and Madison East (376).
Coach Kohl said the impressive finish was the result of a 100% team effort by all 10 swimmers. The Hatchets were within 10 points of Madison East after the ninth event out of 11 (backstroke) but fell behind as their lower team numbers just didn’t allow them to field a second 400 free relay team in the final event.
“Unfortunately we had an early start by one of the swimmers on the “A” medley relay, so that group was unable to re-break their school record set earlier this week, nor score any points for the team, but overall the Hatchet times were comparable and in many cases considerably faster than final season times from the end of last season,” Kohl said. “Each of the 10 varsity swimmers who competed today scored points both individually and on relay teams, and so our successful finish truly was earned by the entire team.”
While the Hatchets were unable to set a new record in the medley relay, they did break one in another relay that had stood for nearly two decades in the 200 free relay.
It was set back on Feb. 9, 2002 by Benjamin Illick, Ryan Johnson, Das Manninen and William Sullivan in a time of 1:36.17, a legend that was finally broken after 17 years by the record-setting team of K. Jed, Z. Hanse, B. Tjugum and T. Phillips. After swimming within a second of the record time in the home opener, the team was able to crack the ceiling with a 2nd place finish in a time of 1:35.67.
“As said about the records set so far this season in just our first week of competition, this is certainly not the last time that the record will change,” coach Kohl added of what will indeed be a special season for the Hatchet boys’ swim team.
While the “A” team was disqualified, the “B” medley relay team of Cullen Flynn, Adam Hall, C. Kretzschmar and E. Liebnitz ended in 5th place and swam almost four seconds faster than their seed time.
In the 200 free, B. Tjugum swam a 2:00.68 for 2nd place and Alex Norman also made it onto the blocks for awards with an 8th place finish. Z. Hanse continued his impressive start to the season with a 4th place finish in the 200 IM.
In the 50 free, T. Phillips took the top spot in a time of 22.16 and A. Hall and E. Liebnitz also scored team points. Also swimming the 100 free, T. Phillips managed to break his old school record with a 48.46 swim but finished in 2nd place.
All three Hatchet swimmers competing in the backstroke scored, including K. Jed took 5th, T. Miller, 6th and C. Flynn placed 13th. The Hatchet breaststrokers swam well with Z. Hanse taking 3rd and A. Hall scored a 6th place finish.
In the final event of the afternoon, the 400 frees relay team of T. Miller, A. Norman, C. Kretzschmar and B. Tjugum the team secure the 3rd place finish with a 5th place finish in the event.
The Hatchets are back in action tomorrow (Thursday) as they travel to Shawano for a GNC meet that begins at 5:30 p.m. Then on Saturday, Dec. 14, the Hatchets travel to Rhinelander for the annual Hodag Relays Invitational at 11:00 a.m.