Hatchet swimmers improve against Rhinelander, earn first win against Shawano

For the Tomahawk Leader

TOMAHAWK – The Tomahawk Hatchet boys’ swim team hosted GNC powerhouse Rhinelander at Hatchet Pool on Tuesday, Jan. 5, and the Hodags came away with a 125 to 41 victory.

Head coach Marion Kohl reiterated her sentiment she expressed after the two teams’ last matchup: Rhinelander is “strong” this season, and the other four GNC teams face an uphill battle.

However, Kohl said she and her squad were “much happier” with last week’s outcome, “despite the continued discrepancy in scores.”

“We were happy to finally have a full team of all eight of our guys in the pool tonight, enabling us to swim an extra relay entry as well as mix some events around a bit more,” she stated. “The guys are still having to swim back-to-back events in some cases and will be all season – it’s just the nature of the game with a small group, but the yardage we were able to put in over the holiday break made recovery from event to event somewhat easier for the boys to handle, and this really showed in some marked time drops from our last meet, as well as a peppering of solid personal record swims as compared to last season.”

Highlights from the meet include second-place finishes by two relay teams. Kohl noted in the last matchup with the Hodags, the Hatchets placed third in all three relay events.

“The 200 yard Medley Relay team of Caleb Kretzschmar, Zach Hanse, Ethan Liebnitz and Adam Hall swam a solid 1:54.12 for second place,” Kohl said. “The 400 yard Freestyle Relay team of Alex Norman, Caleb Kretzschmar, Adam Hall and Zach Hanse also took second with a time of 3:59.69.”

Adam Hall swims his leg of the 400 Freestyle Relay. Photos submitted by Marion Kohl.

Kohl said individual Hatchet swimmers saw a bit more success in the meet.

“Sophomore Zach Hanse took first in the 200 yard Individual Medley with a time of 2:15.38, outpacing the Hodag’s Charlie Heck in second a full five seconds behind at 2:20.29,” the coach stated. “ In the 500 yard Freestyle, Junior Caleb Kretzschmar swam a season best 6:11.79 for third place, followed by Sophomore Taje Casey, who, despite taking fifth place in the event, whopped just over 16 seconds off of his 500 time, from 7:43.71 down to 7:27.56. Finally, in the 100 yard Breaststroke, the duo of Zach Hanse and Senior Adam Hall went 2-3 in the event, behind the Hodags’ Joseph Heck, who qualified for WIAA State in the event last season.”

Kohl noted that Hanse’s time of 1:06.30 was just a couple of seconds off of his school record from last season, calling it “a nice showing for him in what was finally his first meet of our crazy mixed up season.”

The Hatchets earned their first victory of the season against the Shawano Hawks at Hatchet Pool on Saturday, Jan. 9, with a final score of 82 to 74.

Kohl said her squad is back at full strength and is looking considerably more comfortable and fit in the water after so much time away from practice in the early season.

“This is definitely a plus at this point as our season will now be flying by with only three more dual meets, GNC Conference Meet and WIAA Sectionals all being scheduled between now and Jan. 30, a shortened season due to the upcoming ‘interim season’ which was scheduled by the WIAA in response to some teams choosing to ‘opt-out’ of their fall seasons,” Kohl stated. “This does mean we have a lot of work to do in a short period of time, so the focus level needs to ramp up incrementally.”

Kohl said the Hatchets are beginning to show that focus, “not only with the win, but also with a few close races, a couple of come from behind finishes, and quite a few solid event time drops.”

“It sounds somewhat trite, but completely appropriate to say that this was a true ‘total team effort’ for the win, and without each one of the eight team members wouldn’t have turned out the same,” she noted.

To begin the meet, the 200 yard Medley Relay and 200 yard Freestyle Relay teams, featuring seniors Adam Hall and Ethan Liebnitz along with junior Caleb Kretzschmar and sophomore Zach Hanse, took solid first place finishes, over five seconds faster than the Hawks teams in both events.

“Not to be outdone, the group of seniors Cullen Flynn, Noah Buckwalter and Alex Norman, plus sophomore Taje Casey scored all important point for us in their 200 and 400 yard Freestyle Relay events, taking 3rd in the 200 and 2nd in the 400,” Kohl stated.

The Hatchets also had a bit more individual success in meet placement, the coach noted.

“Sophomore Taje Casey was the swimmer of the day, coming through in the relays mentioned above, but also with a third place finish in the 500 yard Freestyle and a 4th place finish in the 100 yard breaststroke, both in come from behind finishes and also with considerable personal time drop – another 13 seconds faster in the 500, which he had already dropped by 16 seconds on Tuesday vs. Rhinelander, as well as going 7.63 seconds faster than his 2019-20 season fastest time in the Breaststroke,” she said, adding that individual first place finishes were abundant for the Hatchets, with double wins for both senior Adam Hall in the 50 yard Freestyle and the 100 yard Breaststroke, sophomore Zach Hanse in both the 100 yard butterfly (at a 2.44 second personal record) and the 100 yard backstroke, plus two additional individual wins for senior Alex Norman in the 200 yard Freestyle and Junior Caleb Kretzschmar in the 500 yard freestyle events.

Taje Casey swims the 200 Free.

The Hatchet swimmers were back in Hatchet Pool on Tuesday, Jan. 12 when conference rivals Medford came to town. The team will be back in action on Thursday, Jan. 14, when they travel to Shawano for a meet that kicks off at 5:30 p.m.

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