YPSILANTI – Saline entered Saturday’s Division 1 Finals at Eastern Michigan University with two swimmers who had combined for six individual MHSAA championships over the past two seasons.
Juniors David Boland and Adam Whitener pushed that total to 10. But the name of junior teammate Josh Ehrman will be the one most stamped in the MHSAA record book for his performances in helping Saline to a third-straight team title.
Ehrman swam a 55.36 in the breaststroke to set an all division/class record, and set another Division 1 record with a preliminary time of 1:49.34 in the individual medley – before losing to teammate Boland in the Final. Ehrman also was a member of two record-setting relays as Saline scored a team total of 326.5 points to edge runner-up Rockford by 92.5.
“It makes me feel really good, but I couldn’t have done it without those guys. I’ve been swimming with David and Adam since I was 9 years old,” Ehrman said. “They’re two of my best friends, and that’s what makes for great competitors. We trained together year-round for seven years, and it makes us all better.
“It bodes well for next year I think. We’ll have some guys we have to replace, but we’ll try to do it.”
Total, Saline had champions in seven of 12 events. Boland, Whitener, Ehrman and senior James Fisher also teamed to break Saline’s own all-division/class record in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:04.26. Ehrman, Boland, senior Tom Walls and junior Michael Bundas opened the meet with a Division 1 record 1:33.95 in the 200 medley relay.
The finish made it tough to believe that Saline did lose a meet this season, to Birmingham Seaholm when some of the Hornets were sick and others didn’t swim their best. But Ehrman said that loss clearly refocused the team – something that should continue to carry over.
“We’ve got to keep challenging them. They’ve certainly got a lot of improving to do. I think we could swim better than we did today,” Saline coach Todd Brunty said. “I’m going to go back and find a way we can get faster, find out what we’ve got to work on. In the world of swimming, all across the country and the Olympic level – which some of these guys are going to aspire to – there’s a lot of ways we can get better. We’re going to keep trying to do that as a team, and that’s the best part. It’s not just one person.”
The third relay record also fell Saturday. Rockford’s 200 freestyle relay of seniors Nick Dulak, Bryan Wasberg, sophomore Craig Wasberg and senior Eric Chisholm swam a 1:24.34 to crash the mark.
Chisholm said he was disappointed to fall short of setting the meet record in the 50 freestyle, but he still won that race in a time of 20.76. He also finished second to Whitener in the 100 freestyle.
“(My favorite was) probably breaking the record with my team on the 2(00) free relay. We all worked really hard to get it,” Chisholm said. “We’re happy. We all swam well, as best as we could on the given days. That’s all you can do.”
While Saline and Rockford were expected to shine, the most surprising of Saturday’s finishes came from Lansing Legacy senior Blake Howe. Legacy is a co-op team made up of all three Lansing public schools – Everett, Eastern and Sexton – and Howe earned its signature accomplishment by finishing ahead of reigning champion Victor Zhang of Canton to win the 100 backstroke in 50.83 seconds.
That time was only three hundredths off the Division 1 Final record. Howe also finished third in the butterfly.
“ Pulling off that third turn, I saw him and I was that much ahead, and I’m like that was it. This is the last 25 (yards) of my high school career. I’ve got to win,” Howe said. “Coach said when you do your workout, states is where you get your paycheck and you can cash that in. And I cashed it in.”
Division 2 at Holland Aquatics Center
All season, reigning champion Birmingham Seaholm was ranked No. 1 in Division 2. And all season, Dexter was No. 2.
But despite only one single-event championship – in the 200 freestyle relay – the Dreadnaughts edged Groves 320-298.5 on Saturday, with Seaholm coming in third.
Dexter did post nine top-three finishes to go with the relay win by seniors Mark Brown, John Eber, Nate Kilian and junior Brennan Maisch.
Groves – ranked No. 3 entering the postseason – had champions in five events, led by senior Scott Crosthwaite. He won the 200 freestyle in 139.47 and the 500 in 4:33.26. He also swam on the champion 400 freestyle relay and runner-up 200 freestyle relay.
Division 3 at Oakland University
St. Joseph was ranked just No. 4 entering the postseason and had never won an MHSAA Final – finishing runner-up in both 1980 and 1968.
But in the closest of this winter’s Finals, the Bears scored 250 points to edge Grand Rapids Christian by five, East Grand Rapids by 22 and Hamilton by 36.5.
St. Joseph got wins in four events, including a pair by freshman Ben Carter in the 100 freestyle (46.67) and the 50 freestyle (21.34). His prelim 50 time of 21.05 set a Division 3 record.
Spring Lake senior Nick Zacek also won two races, the butterfly (51.52) and 200 freestyle (1:41.78).
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We take a look at all of the action from the 2023 MHSAA Boys Swimming State Finals
Congratulations to our State Champions
Division 1 - Ann Arbor Pioneer
Division 2 - Birmingham Groves
Division 3 - Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood