2018-19 Stacking Up With Best on Records

March 29, 2019

By Ron Pesch
Special for Second Half

What a sports year.

There certainly have been some amazing athletic feats over the 2018-19 high school season in Michigan, and it’s just two-thirds of the way complete.

This past fall, Kobe Clark of Schoolcraft scored nine touchdowns in a single game. Stunning!

The winter sports season saw Dylan Jergens of Marcellus Howardsville Christian top the MHSAA single season scoring record in boys basketball, finishing with 971 points. Incredible!

Then a freshman, Emoni Bates, hits for 31 points in an MHSAA Semifinal for Ypsilanti Lincoln. Wow!

So, how does that compare to years past?

First, let’s hit the pool!


Across the world, as well as in Michigan, record performances seem to fall regularly in swimming. I’m certainly no expert on the sport, but research seems to indicate that optimization of stroke count, kicks and other body positioning (and not a change in the density of H2O) impact the lowering of recorded times in the water. The continued synchronization and optimization of movement may mean we’ll see regular improvement for years to come.

It’s telling that MHSAA all class/division records in eight of the 12 events that make up a girls meet have been set this decade. The remaining four marks date to 2002 or 2007, and are held by Kara Lynn Joyce of Ann Arbor Pioneer or Allison Schmitt of Canton. Joyce, of course, went on to post 18 NCAA championships and four silver medals won during three Olympic competitions. A freestyle specialist, Schmitt won eight Olympic medals across the 2008, 2012 and 2016 games.

This past fall, the triumphs of three athletes, in particular, stand out. Kathryn Ackerman set a new state mark in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:57:25. A junior, Ackerman’s time should place nationally in the top 15 all-time. With the 2018 season complete, she now holds the top four times in the event according to the MHSAA record book.

Senior Ashley Turak sprinted to a new Division I record of 22.10 in the 50 freestyle for Harrison/Farmington on the first leg of the 200 freestyle relay, as well as a time of 22.20 in the 50 freestyle. Both those times also rank in the national record books within the top 15. The MHSAA All-Class/Division Final Meet mark still belongs to Joyce, who posted a time of 22.04, set while leading off the 200 freestyle relay team in the Class A 2002 preliminaries.

Turak again mesmerized the crowd, this time in the 100-yard freestyle, posting a time of 48.72 seconds to win the event. Again, Joyce holds the Michigan All-Class/Division mark with a then-national record time of 48:59 set in 2002.

This November, Grand Ledge junior Lola Mull fell less than a half-second short of her own state mark in the 500-yard freestyle, set in the 2017 preliminaries. Mull owns the state’s top three times in the event, while Schmitt ranks fourth on the list.

Sub 20
A winter sport in Michigan, boys swimming is no different, with records in 10 of the 12 events set in the 2010s. Cam Peel of Spring Lake became the first in state history to break 20 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle, accomplishing the milestone twice this March, first in the prelim race with a record time of 19.86 and again in the finals at 19.91. The marks surpassed the previous best, set by Henry Schutte of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central one year ago, and also rank among the “Best of the Best” in the National Federation record book.


Clark’s nine touchdowns came in Schoolcraft’s 63-27 victory over previously undefeated Constantine in a Southwestern Athletic Conference contest. Thanks to steady rain in the first half, Schoolcraft stuck to the ground game, opening a 21-0 first quarter lead on three Clark touchdowns, one of eight yards, the second of 24, and the third of 10 yards. Constantine battled back to within eight points, 21-13 late in the second quarter, but Clark would score for Schoolcraft twice more during the final three minutes before halftime. 

Following a 24-yard scamper, a partially blocked punt would set up Clark’s fifth rushing TD from two yards out with under a minute remaining before the break. (This appears to be a great moment to note that five players have scored five touchdowns in a single quarter). Clark added two TDs in the third quarter and two in the fourth.

Amazingly, Clark’s nine touchdowns and 54 points scored are not state records. In fact, two others have matched the touchdown and point count, while three others have exceeded the accomplishment in each category. Of course, each of those events occurred at least 90 years ago, decades before the introduction of the mercy rule in high school football.

For many years, Herb Dunphy was listed as the state’s record holder for a pair of seemingly untouchable records: touchdowns in a single game and points scored in a game. In 1917 he scored 10 TDs for Lansing Central and stood alone at the top.

But as time has proven again and again, the work of historians and researchers can alter what we believe. In 1986, research by Tom Pellow of Gwinn uncovered that Marmaduke “Duke” Christie of Escanaba had also scored 10 touchdowns, matching Dunphy’s output. In addition, Christie added six point-after-touchdowns that day, totaling 66 points, as Escanaba defeated Ishpeming 102-0 in November 1920.

“In my humble opinion, Escanaba high school in 1920 had one of the greatest football teams that ever misunderstood a signal in any language,” wrote Cy DeLynes, recalling the exploits of Christie and his teammates in the Escanaba Daily Press in 1929. “Christie was its captain. The Duke had a pair of collapsible ankles and he was able to play in only a part of four games. That, however, was just enough time to permit him to score 21 touchdowns and 38 out of a possible 50 points after touchdown – a total of 164 points. He led a backfield that made Knute Rockne’s Four Horsemen look like a quartet of super-annuated milk wagon drivers turning off the alarm clocks at 4 o’clock in the morning.”

A few years later, additional study of yearbooks and newspapers revealed the exploits of Cecil Hardy of Flint Central, again reshaping the scoring entries in the MHSAA record book.

In the 1914 season opener – a 106-0 blasting of Lapeer – Hardy carried for more than 300 yards. Within the first two minutes of play, the captain of the Flint squad had scored the first of 11 touchdowns – a “new” state mark.

“His end running was the feature of the game, his longest run being one for 50 yards and a touchdown on the first play after the kickoff. Time after time as he was making his long runs he appeared to be tackled and would wriggle out of the grasp of his opponent and run 15 or 20 yards further,” was the report of the day.

“How Is This For Football?”
Muskegon 216, Hastings 0
The Boston Globe paired the question with the football score from a Michigan high school game to readers in their Sunday edition back on September 29, 1912.

“Most of Muskegon’s touchdowns were scored on the kick-off,” stated the Globe, “and few required more than one down.”

The score was believed to be a “world’s record” for points scored in a game, at the time. Indeed, the total ranks as the tops in Michigan. Indeed, it was a record nationally, but would be surpassed on three occasions in the coming years, first in 1923, again in 1924 and finally in 1927. With today’s employment of the running clock, the scoring totals will never again be approached.

The score was 40-0 at the end of the first quarter, 102-0 following the second, and 150-0 after three quarters. Touchdowns were scored by nine different players, with six scoring multiple times. As byproducts, captain Fred Jacks finished with nine touchdowns, while Muskegon’s Nelson Stuit booted 24 of 30 extra points in the contest (another state mark that also will never be equaled).

“Although world’s records fell in the game it is not anything to be particularly proud of …” stated the Muskegon Chronicle in the prose of the time. “The visitors had about three men that knew a football from an eff, and those three could not make the Muskegon second team.”

One of the best, as it turned out, was Fred Rehor, Hastings’ “big 220 pound fullback” who would later play for Michigan, then professional ball in Ohio for the 1917 Massillon Tigers, coached by Knute Rockne.

As a result of the Muskegon-Hastings game, “at least three of the football elevens which contracted this year to meet Muskegon high school have begun to make excuses in line with those usually offered before a team quits such an engagement,” wrote the Lansing State Journal. Muskegon rolled up 499 points on the year, but ended a flawless season in defeat, 13-12 against rival Grand Rapids Central in the finale. The loss was blamed on overconfidence.

The aptly named Francis Tallent of Menominee, became the next player to score nine TDs in a game.

Tallent’s skills on the gridiron had been spotted in 1928.

“Standing out like a missing tooth in a front row of the chorus … (Tallent) revealed as speedy a pair of heels as one could ever hope to cast his optics on in a high school game,” wrote one reporter after witnessing the left halfback’s performance in the annual twin cities battle between Menominee and Marinette, Wis., then played on Armistice day. Tallent scored twice in that “M & M” game, a 26-0 win by Menominee.

After thumping Green Bay in its 1929 season opener and a “helpless” Oshkosh Normal (now known as the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh) freshmen team, 46-6, Menominee squared off for its game against “a light and green squad” from Kingsford.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tallent scored nine touchdowns that day on runs of 46, 72, 90, 64, 50, 37, 90, 85 and 63 yards. In total, the paper noted that Tallent gained 597 yards rushing in the 150-0 thrashing of Kingsford. Other sources noted that it was likely more, as the sum of only the TD runs equaled the 597 yard total. Kingsford would finish its seven-game season without scoring a point. According to the Kingsfordian, the school’s high school annual, the Kingsford players “were no match for the heavier and more experienced teams on the range” that school year.

Menominee’s success and Tallent’s football exploits prompted the Journal-Sentinel to send a reporter to the U.P. to cover the 1929 M & M game between the border schools later that fall. “Mr. Tallent, who runs like the well-known hare and who slips out of tacklers’ arms and hands like a piece of wet soap, scored four touchdowns in the course of the afternoon,” wrote the staffer. “All told, this Mr. Tallent rolled up 284 yards,” as the “pride of the peninsula walloped Marinette,” 49-0, before a crowd of 10,000. The score was “the highest ever piled up in 45 years of bitter rivalry between the two cities.”

Menominee ended the 1929 season undefeated and untied in eight games, scoring over a point-a-minute while claiming the Upper Peninsula championship and demanding statewide consideration for Michigan’s mythical crown. Tallent finished the season with 27 touchdowns.


After 35 years, one began to wonder if Mark Brown’s single-season scoring mark, set in 1984-85 during his days at Hastings, would ever be surpassed. Brad Redford, named Michigan’s Mr. Basketball, came close as a senior in 2007-08, falling 17 points shy of exceeding Brown’s total of 969. Prior to that, only Drew Neitzel of Wyoming Park had come within reasonable striking distance, but that happened a decade and a half ago.

This year, Jergens of Howardsville Christian finally topped the total, finishing with 971 points. Jergens accomplished the task in 24 games, two games fewer than Brown, but with the advantage of the 3-point shot. The three was implemented after Brown had headed to college. According to press reports, Jergens had four games of at least 50 points during the season.

Still standing, 40 years later, is Jay Smith’s high school career scoring mark of 2,841 points, set at Mio between 1976 and 1979. Jergens finished third on the list with 2,782 career points, including 320 career 3-pointers – second most in state history. Brown ranks second with 2,789 points scored between 1982 and 1985.

Few followers of prep basketball in Michigan could avoid coming across the name Emoni Bates, especially after the freshman phenom from Ypsilanti Lincoln knocked down 17 points in the Quarterfinals, 31 points in the Semifinal round of the Division 1 tournament, then 23 in the championship game. The immediate question on press row was, “Had another ninth grader ever exceeded his totals in a MHSAA final-rounds contests?” There was nothing to exceed it that I could recall.

While we’ve kept final round records, including single-game scoring marks, the website minimum is 40 points, and we’ve never captured a list that’s broken down by year in school.

So, I decided to dig.

The state has certainly seen some talented freshmen pass through the last rounds of the tournament. Monte Morris scored 20 points in the Quarterfinals for Flint Beecher during its Class C run in 2010. Saginaw Buena Vista played two freshmen, Mark Macon and Shawn Randolph, along its route to the Finals in 1984. Macon, at the age of 14, scored 22 points in a Quarterfinal win over Menominee that season. Two players scored 24 points in the quarters as freshmen: Flint Beecher’s Roy Marble, Jr. in 1982 in a loss to Okemos and Manton’s Matt Stuck, who scored 24 in defeat against Mio in 1989. But, according to Detroit Free Press accounts, it appears Michael Payton from Detroit St. Leo is the leading freshman point-getter in the Quarterfinal round. Payton netted 26 in a 74-62 loss to Flint St. Redeemer in the 1970 tournament.

Macon in 1984 and perhaps the most famous of freshmen in MHSAA Tournament history, Willie Betts of River Rouge in 1961, both scored 14 in Semifinal victories. Clyde Corley from Pontiac Central tossed in 16 points during a heartbreaking Semifinal defeat, 53-52, to Saginaw in 1976. Kelvin Torbert posted 17 points (and 10 rebounds) in a 65-62 Semifinal loss to Belleville in 1998. Morris tallied 18 in a loss to Melvindale Academy for Business & Technology in the Class C semis in 2010. So, Bates’ total of 31 certainly appears to top the list.

Only one freshman prior to Bates has hit for double digits in a state final. In 1992, Saginaw Buena Vista’s Terrance Roberson went 3 for 7 from the field and 4 for 7 from the free throw line to finish with 10 points as the Knights grabbed a 54-44 win over Grandville Calvin Christian.

Please, let me know if I missed a top performer.  

Ron Pesch has taken an active role in researching the history of MHSAA events since 1985 and began writing for MHSAA Finals programs in 1986, adding additional features and "flashbacks" in 1992. He inherited the title of MHSAA historian from the late Dick Kishpaugh following the 1993-94 school year, and resides in Muskegon. Contact him at [email protected] with ideas for historical articles.

PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Haven’s Kathryn Ackerman swims the breaststroke portion of her record-setting 200-yard individual medley this past fall. (Top middle) Harrison-Farmington’s Ashley Turak looks to the clock after her 100 freestyle at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals. (Middle) Schoolcraft’s Kobe Clark. (Middle below) Muskegon's Fred Jacks. (Below) Ypsilanti Lincoln’s Emoni Bates fires a jumper during his team’s Division 1 Semifinal win over Howell

East Grand Rapids' Briggs to Receive Deserved Spotlight for Half-Century of Swim

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

May 17, 2024

EAST GRAND RAPIDS – When the idea was presented to celebrate his coaching milestone, Milton “Butch” Briggs balked at it.

West MichiganThe longtime East Grand Rapids swimming & diving coach doesn’t like to be the center of attention, although his teams certainly have been over the last 50 years as he’s established a pair of perennial state powerhouses. 

“He vehemently said, ‘No, we’re not doing this,’” Pioneers assistant girls coach Gwen Barnes said. “But it’s going to be super cool and so deserving. We need to mark this occasion as a community and swimming community. He has influenced so many people and been an active member of the community for a long time.”

On Saturday, the East Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Alumni Association will commemorate Briggs and his 50 years of coaching at the school.

Briggs took over the East Grand Rapids boys swimming & diving program for the 1972-73 season, and the girls program beginning in the fall of 1974. He has coached 102 seasons total, winning 26 MHSAA Finals championships with the girls and 12 with the boys.

Briggs has always wanted the focus to be on his teams rather than himself.

“He is not one who likes the spotlight,” retired Pioneers athletic director Tim Johnston said. “He is a very private man, but it is awesome that this group of alumni, swimmers and parents want to celebrate him.

“He is one of the best coaches I have ever had the opportunity to work with, but to be completely honest, he is a better person and more than just a coach. That is the truth.”

Past EGR swimmer Kris Ward was a member of the first girls state championship team in 1978.

“He had a huge impact on me,” Ward said. “Just from understanding hard work and dedication and being part of a team. Then following it through. He worked with a variety of people on the team and helped us to come together. It was all about life lessons, and he's teaching the kids that while still being successful.”

Briggs also coached Ward’s daughters Alex, Ashley and Abby.

“He was always about connecting with the kids,” Ward said. “My kids were all able to swim for him, and so I had that experience with him in a different way and seeing how he was with all of my girls on the team.

“He starts with connecting with one person and carries that through to make the success better.” 

Briggs, second from far left, celebrates the 2014 Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship with his girls team. Barnes, an assistant coach for the girls team the past three years, also swam under Briggs from 1984-87.

Her teams won four straight Finals championships and never lost a dual meet.

“There were high expectations for us, and despite them being unspoken, we felt it,” Barnes said. “We wanted and felt this desire to do our best on that team each year, and he instilled this culture of commitment and hard work. Every swimmer had different abilities, but he was able to tap into getting us to do our best.”

Barnes has gained a different perspective of Briggs as his assistant.

While she noted that he still displays the same traits as far as his demeanor, sense of humor, kindness and patience, his devotion to the program and his student-athletes also has never wavered.

“Coaching with him as an assistant, you see how much work and time he puts in that goes unnoticed sometimes,” Barnes said. “To maintain that level of commitment for 50 years is pretty remarkable, and he still has this presence when on the pool deck that challenges everybody to do their best. He set the same standard for everyone, and everyone on the team feels important, which I think is cool.

“He weaves in a lot of stories and lessons from over the years and maintains traditions that I think make current teams feel like they are a part of and building onto the history.”

Briggs, who played football and ran track & field in high school, was inducted into the Grand Rapids Hall of Fame in 2009. The EGR natatorium was named after him in 2014.

Briggs, who taught at Ottawa Hills High School, has received national attention, too. In June 2020, he was named National Girls Swim Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association. Briggs had received the same honor in 2011.

He wrote this of his coaching philosophy as part of the nomination for the NFHS girls swimming award:

“My coaching philosophy has been, and continues to be, a work in progress. I have formed relationships with hundreds of amazing young people. They have taught me life lessons in real time and real situations. As a neophyte coach, the experience revolved around winning. We worked together as a team, supported each other in and out of the pool, and won often. Thankfully, I became aware of the value within each athlete. Today, I attempt to interact with each athlete at every team activity and follow their progress in non-swimming endeavors. In short, when I removed my ego from the team's expectations and outcomes, the entire atmosphere was much more enjoyable and productive. And we are still capable of being successful. The Lord has put me in the right place at the right time.”

Ward said she expects about 200 people to attend Saturday’s celebration.

“He has impacted so many people in the swimming community, and there is something special in what he has created,” Ward said. “All of the kids on the current teams and their families will be there, as well as a lot of different generations. I also know that there will be people coming from far away.”

As far as Briggs’ future, Barnes doesn’t see him stepping down any time soon.

“I don’t really ever see him stopping,” she said. “His passion is EGR swim, and I think he will continue to be a part of the program as he can and wants to be.”

Dean HolzwarthDean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) Longtime East Grand Rapids swimming coach Butch Briggs, right, will be celebrated this weekend for his half-century of coaching the Pioneers. (Middle) Briggs, second from far left, celebrates the 2014 Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship with his girls team. (Top photo by Kris Ward; middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)