Jacob friede/lakeland times

Alex Tucker swimming against Tomahawk, will be looked at to lead the Thunderbirds at the Great Northern Conference meet at Medford tonight.
Jacob friede/lakeland times

Alex Tucker swimming against Tomahawk, will be looked at to lead the Thunderbirds at the Great Northern Conference meet at Medford tonight.
The Great Northern Conference swim meet is tonight at Medford and the Lakeland Thunderbirds should a have a pretty clear idea of the challenge in front of them.

The Thunderbirds just faced and lost to conference leading Rhinelander, 101-56 last Thursday, and in almost every race tonight there will be a Hodag to beat to get to the top of the podium. 

One of those Hodags will definitely be Nolan Francis who has the GNC’s best time in almost every race from the dual season.

As a team, Rhinelander enters the conference meet undefeated at 10-0. Lakeland is in second at 7-3, followed by Tomahawk at 6-4, Shawano at 5-5, Medford at 2-8, and Antigo at 0-10.

“The conference meet Friday will be fun,” Lakeland head coach Chris Garcia said. “Rhinelander will most likely lead the pack with a tight race for second between Lakeland, Tomahawk, and Shawano. We certainly have some opportunities for wins.”

Those opportunities hinge on the performances of sophomore Liam Hogan, juniors Brandon Boh and Tyler Teichmiller, and senior Alex Tucker. Lakeland’s “core four” has been racking up wins all year and are posed to be serious contenders for conference championships.

Hogan just came off his best ever 500-yard freestyle, in the meet against Rhinelander. He clocked in at 4:59.72, which is the top time in the conference in that event. He also has the third-best time from the dual season in the 50, 100 and 200 yard freestyle races with times of 22.65, 51.35, and 1.56.68 respectively. Hogan also has this year’s third fastest time in the 200 individual medley with a 2:12.27.

Lakeland’s Teichmiller has the GNC’s second fastest time in the 200 IM, with a 2:11.49. He’s also the second fastest in the 100 breaststroke with a dual season best 1:06.56, and he has the fourth best time in the conference in the 500 free with a 5:27.46. 

Boh has the fourth best time in the GNC in the 100 and the 100 with times of 51.97 and 1:03.51 respectively. 

Tucker has the second best conference time in the 200 freestyle, with a 1:54.69, and the 100 butterfly, with a 57.39. He also has the third fastest GNC time in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:17.58.

Lakeland also has the second-fastest times in all three relay races. In the 200 medley, 200 free, and 400 free they have finished in 1:47.71, 1;40.47, and 3:32.23. All these times trail only Rhinelander.

To make sure her swimmers are fresh to race for the podium, Garcia is scaling back the workload leading into the conference meet.

“We will be cutting back a bit in our training,” she said. “The boys are always excited about that. We will work harder on the details as the bulk of the hard work is done. Starts and turns, great streamlines and underwater work will be the focus. The other big piece of the end of the season is the mental side. Confidence in the hard work and training you’ve done will give you the confidence needed to compete well.”

If the T-Birds trust their results so far, after a very successful dual season, they will be a dangerous team tonight.

The meet at the Medford High School pool is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.