Diving & Depth Help Deliver EGR's Latest Finals Win

By Dan D'Addona
Special for Second Half

March 27, 2021

HOLLAND — The East Grand Rapids boys swimming & diving team was devastated when last year’s MHSAA Finals were canceled.

The Pioneers were poised to win and immediately set out on a mission to claim the Lower Peninsula Division 3 title this season.

East Grand Rapids won Saturday’s meet with 308 points despite not winning any swimming events.

Of course, diving was another story.

EGR started strong on Friday, going 1-2 in diving with Charley Bayer winning with 490 points, just ahead of teammate Billy Kirchgessner (472.90). Chelsea’s Mitch Brown was third (450.05).

“Everything started flowing together, and it all worked out in the meet for us,” Bayer said. “That is our biggest advantage. Having a teammate that good can push you, and we pushed each other. It is a blessing to be part of a program like this. This team win is the most important in a long time because we wanted a big win last year and it didn’t happen. This was a redemption win.”

The Pioneers earned their record 26th Finals win with their depth and relays.

In the 200-yard freestyle relay, East Grand Rapids finished second in 1:26.89 with Will Laham, Max Jung, Kenny Pontius and Logan McCahill posting the runner-up finish.

“Last year was traumatic. We had a lot of kids work so hard and we had a good chance to win it. This year, just getting to get to the meet was a plus, but to win it without taking any swimming firsts spoke well for the group,” EGR coach Butch Briggs said. “Diving got us 37 points, and you can’t do much better than that. It just got everyone pumped up.”

Lower Peninsula Division 3 boys swimming & diving 2Holland Christian finished second with 218.5 points. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood was third (194), Spring Lake was fourth (196) and Mason was fifth (162).

Holland Christian senior Colin Kalkman won the title in the 100 freestyle, finishing in 45.72. He used a strong finish to pull ahead of runner-up Jacob Ryan (45.92) of Detroit Country Day. Trenton’s Spencer Boling-Hamer was third (47.24).

Kalkman then won the 100 backstroke in 50.96, holding off Pinckney’s Tyler Ray (51.09) and East Grand Rapids’ McCahill (51.45).

The Maroons also won the 400 freestyle relay with Joey Grasman, Christian Hoeksema, Blake Assink and Kalkman touching first in 3:09.58. Spring Lake (3:09.73) was second, followed by Mason (3:10.67).

“That was fantastic to win the final relay. They did what they had to do,” Holland Christian coach Todd Smeenge said. “I am happy for all the seniors, and Colin had a great meet. I am so happy for him. It was satisfying to see that work pay off. We scored about what we thought, but East Grand Rapids ate up all kinds of points.”

The fastest race of the meet was the 100 breaststroke, where the top three finishers bettered the previous Division 3 record. Milan’s Andrew Dobrzanski won the event in 54.67, followed by Cranbrook Kingswood’s Ethan Schwab (55.46) and Otsego’s Owen Stedner (55.85).

Dobrzanski also won the 200 IM in 1:50.07, a dominating performance that beat the field by nearly four seconds. Grand Rapids Christian’s Jacob Haaksma was second (1:53..94), followed by McCahill (1:55.17).

Dobrzanski was named Swimmer of the Meet .

“It means a lot. I was shocked when I saw my name up there,” Dobrzanski said. “The breaststroke was amazing with all of the competition.”

Cranbrook Kingswood won the 200 medley relay in 1:34.97 with Colin Zexter, Ethan Schwab, Josh Zexter and Andrew Zhang.  Spring Lake was second (1:35.51), followed by East Grand Rapids (1:37.63).

Lower Peninsula Division 3 boys swimming & diving 3

Trenton’s Spencer Boling-Hamer won the 200 freestyle in 1:42.21, ahead of Grasman (1:42.40) and Mason’s Jonas Cantrell (1:42.49).

Detroit Country Day’s Ryan dropped nearly half a second from his seed time to win the 50 freestyle in 20.58, holding off Spring Lake’s Charles Brown (20.71) and Mason’s Gabe Williams (21.68) in an extremely fast race.

Pinckney’s Ray was the winner in the 100 butterfly, going 49.23 to hold off Spring Lake’s Brown (49.80) and Mason’s Liam Boomer (50.48).

Cantrell won the 500 freestyle in 4:27.58, ahead of Cranbrook Kingswood’s Schwab (4:35.14) and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Griffin Gushman (4:41.64).

Mason’s Williams, Tommy Hebert, Boomer and Cantrell won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:26.52, ahead of East Grand Rapids (1:26.89) and Grand Rapids Christian (1:27.13).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) East Grand Rapids celebrates its team championship Saturday at Holland Aquatic Center. (Middle) Milan’s Andrew Dobrzanski won the breaststroke and 200 IM. (Below) Cranbrook’s Andrew Zhang looks up at the clock after a race. (Click for photos by Dan D’Addona.)

Marquette Adds to Championship List As Newest Standouts Take Their Turns

By Jason Juno
Special for MHSAA.com

February 17, 2024

MARQUETTE – Marquette has won so many Upper Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals team championships, it’s running out of wall space to celebrate them as the boys list already runs from the high ceiling to just about pool level.

They added one more Saturday, their fifth straight title and 31st in school history, and did so in dominating fashion finishing ahead of runner-up Houghton 319-214. The day saw a Marquette sweep as the girls team also breezed to a U.P. championship with its list of championships running just about as far down the same wall.

“Last year, we graduated some real studs,” Marquette coach Nathan McFarren said. “If you would have told me that both teams would be here winning it today last year at this time, I would have said you’re crazy. But our boys that were B and C swimmers were ready to shine. They wanted their moment, and they got it today.”

Swimmers launch at the start of the 50 championship race. Marquette junior Trevor Crandell won the 50-yard freestyle, finished runner-up in the 100 butterfly and helped Marquette to wins in the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay.

“It’s so rewarding,” Crandell said. “When you’re first starting the year, it’s so demotivating, you’re not swimming any meets, you’re not doing any good times. But when you get to the U.P. Finals, you’re on that taper, you’re on that block, you’re just ready to go, it’s something special.”

“Super-quiet kid, but this year found the eye of the tiger and really went after it,” McFarren said of Crandell. “So exciting to watch. He wanted it so bad this year, proud of him.”

Junior Isaiah Youngren picked up Marquette’s other individual race win, in the 100 breaststroke. Junior Chase Thomsen was the top diver with a score of 198.15.

Manistique’s Nathan Schoenow won the 100 and 200 freestyle races.

The senior had been sick in his other U.P. Finals appearances.

“It feels good; a lot of hard work in the pool and out of the pool came into this,” he said. 

He looked to sprint through both races, including the 200.

Kingsford’s Joey Lundholm swims to a win in the 200 individual medley.“Earlier this season, I didn’t have a whole lot of endurance,” Schoenow said. “I tried to pace myself, maybe hold back a little. But for this meet, since it’s my last time ever doing the 200, I just decided to sprint the whole thing and see how that would work. It hurt a lot, I was really tired after, but it worked – I got my best time by 3.5 seconds.

“The other one (100), same thing, I tried to sprint as hard as I could and the second I felt tired, I would just try to will myself to go faster.”

Other individual winners included Kingsford’s Joey Lundholm in the 200 individual medley and 100 fly, Rudyard’s Keith McDowell in the 500 free and Houghton’s Beau Haataja in the 100 backstroke.  

Gladstone was third in the team standings with Kingsford fourth, Ishpeming/Negaunee fifth, Sault Ste. Marie sixth, Rudyard seventh, Manistique eighth and Ishpeming Westwood ninth.

McFarren made it a combined 17 Finals championships as coach for boys and girls for Marquette, tying Marquette’s Matt Williams for the meet record. 

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Marquette’s Trevor Crandell celebrates his victory in the 50-yard freestyle Saturday. (Middle) Swimmers launch at the start of the 50 championship race. (Below) Kingsford’s Joey Lundholm swims to a win in the 200 individual medley. (Click for more from Jarvinen Photos.)