Hatchet swimmers advance to WIAA State Championship after best showing ever at D2 Sectional
Travis Phillips to compete in 50 free, 100 butterfly, two Tomahawk relays advance
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports and Nature Editor
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Hatchet boys’ swim team was made some serious waves downriver in the Wisconsin River town of Wisconsin Rapids over the weekend where they had their best team finish ever taking runner up in WIAA Division 2 Sectional while advancing in multiple events to compete in the State Championship this Friday, Feb. 21 at UW-Madision Natatorium.
Not surprisingly after going 10-0 in the GNC regular season, and winning the GNC Conference Championship meet, the Rhinelander Hodags had a very strong showing and won handily with a whopping 336 points (although in comparison, last season Rhinelander won this same meet with 377 points) to win the Wisconsin Rapids Sectional. Hatchet head coach Marion Kohl said throughout the meet the team score bounced back and forth between the Hodags, the Mustangs from Menomonie and the speedsters from Tomahawk.
“I had the points figured using seed times such that Menomonie would be 2nd with 286 points and Tomahawk would be 3rd with 262, but there were only 24 points separating the two teams and so I knew with some great swims from the Hatchets we would be able to pull of the Sectional runner up title! The highest the Hatchet Boys Team has ever placed at Sectionals in the past is 4th (2018) and while 3rd would have been sweet, 2nd was even better!”
Instead of what the seed times suggested, Tomahawk managed to swim to the top of their potential to score 278 poits to fnish in 2nd place just ahead of Menomonie (276) and Lakeland finished in fourth place finishing with 247.5 points.
“Our boys had a phenomenal day in the pool. Our main focus at the end of the season is to see just how fast we can go to finish out the year, with our sights of course on State Qualifiers as well,” coach Kohl said. “We strive to train the boys just right so they can hit those fast times at the very end of the season, and after the frustrating end to last season with less than ideal training conditions because of all of the days off that we had to take due to inclement weather, it was truly disheartening to watch a good team not be able to drop the kind of time that they should have been able to because of conditions outside of their control. Thankfully this season did not repeat itself in any way.”
Of the 18 individual event swims that the Hatchets competed in, 16 of them were personal best swim times, three were re-broken school records, and two were Sectional 1st place finishes and are WIAA State Meet Qualified.
Of the three relays, all three registered considerable time drops with two being re-broken school records and are also WIAA State Meet Qualified.
“We had a cumulative team time drop today of 68.68 seconds! Compare that number to last season’s drop of only 9.17 seconds, and the 34.08 seconds that we dropped as a team at Sectionals in 2018 and you can see just how motivated this group was!”
The runner up finish at Sectional set Tomahawk up to compete at the WIAA D2 State Championship. Individually, Travis Phillips will represent the Hatchets as the top seed in the 50-yard free and 3rd seed in the 100 butterfly. Additionally, the Hatchets 200 free and 400 free relay teams also qualified; swimming will be Brady Tjugum, Trey Miller, Keaton Jed and Travis Phillips on both teams and they will be backed up by alternates Zach Hanse, Adam Hall, Caleb Kretzschmar, Cullen Flynn and Alex Norman.
“Congratulations to all of our swimmers – it was truly a total team effort to place 2nd as a team at the meet,” a proud coach Kohl added.
Some of the Hatchets other strong showings and time drops at the Wisconsin Rapids Sectional included: 200 Medley Relay – Caleb Kretzschmar, Adam Hall, Zach Hanse and Ethan Liebnitz in 6th for 26 points – a 2.49 second season best time; 200 Freestyle – Keaton Jed in 4th for 15 points at 1:54.87 – a3.73 second personal record; Brady Tjugum in 6th for 13 points at 1:57.05 (.35 second personal record) Cullen Flynn in 9th for 9 points at 2:10.90 (a whopping 13.06 second personal record) Alex Norman in 12th for 5 points at 2:19.01 – a full 5.56 second personal record; 200 Individual Medley – Zach Hanse in 4th for 15 points – a 5.34 second personal record time of 2:08.17; 50 Freestyle – Travis Phillips in 1st place, Sectional Champion and WIAA State Qualifier at a personal record 21.33 (Travis is seeded 1st overall for the WIAA Division II State Meet – he re-broke his school record in the event; Keaton Jed in 8th place for 11 points at :23.52 – a .58 second personal record; 100 Butterfly – Travis Phillips in 1st place, Sectional Champion and WIAA State Qualifier at a season best :51.81 (Travis is seeded 3rd overall for the WIAA Division II State Meet in this event – he also re- broke his school record in the swim; Caleb Kretzschmar in 10th place for 7 points at 1:05.65 (1.06 second personal record), Ethan Liebnitz in 12th place for 5 points at 1:08.38; 100 Freestyle – Brady Tjugum in 7th place for 12 points at :51.75 – a.67 second personal record time; Trey Miller in 11th place for 6 points at :53.35 (1.45 second personal record) Adam Hall in 13th place for 4 points at :55.17 (.14 second personal record); 500 Freestyle – Caleb Kretzschmar in 8th for 11 points at 5:46.90 – a whopping 12.5 second personal record; 200 Freestyle Relay – Brady Tjugum, Trey Miller, Keaton Jed and Travis Phillips in 3rd for 32 points; WIAA State Qualified Relay team at a season best and re-broken school record time of 1:30.08. The team is seeded 13th overall for the WIAA Division II State Meet next Friday in this event; 100 Backstroke – Cullen Flynn in 15th place for 2 points – a 3.7 second personal record time of 1:14.14; 100 Breaststroke – Zach Hanse in 3rd for 16 points – a 2.47 second personal record 1:03.21; Adam Hall in 8th for 11 points at 1:09.70, Ethan Liebnitz in 13th for 4 points at a 2.14 second personal record time of 1:14.64; 400 Freestyle Relay – Brady Tjugum, Trey Miller, Keaton Jed and Travis Phillips in 2nd for 34 points; WIAA State Qualified Relay team at a season best and re-broken school record time of 3:21.13. The team is seeded 7th overall for the WIAA Division II State Meet.
The Hatchet boys’ swim team will look to continue their historic season as they travel to Madison this Friday, Feb. 21 to take part in the WIAA D2 State Championship Swim Meet being held at the UW-Madison Natatorium. Following up a best ever Sectional finish just downriver at Wisconsin Rapids, you can bet the Hatchet speedsters will be more than ready to cut more time and make some more big waves when competition at the Natatorium begins at 6:30 p.m.