Holland Leads From Start to Finish in D2

March 9, 2013

By Jon Malavolti
Special to Second Half

ROCHESTER – A blazing, record-breaking photo finish in the first race of the day set the tone for Holland High as the boys swimming and diving team went wire-to-wire in first place of the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals on Saturday at Oakland University.

The Dutch opened the day edging eventual meet runner-up Ann Arbor Pioneer by two hundredths of a second for first in the 200-yard medley relay.

“That definitely set us off right,” Holland senior Derek Bosko said. “It just got us all going.”

Holland’s all-senior team of Connor Bos, Kyle Doss, Gage Mitchell and Jonathon Maat finished the race in 1 minute and 34.81 seconds. Pioneer’s squad of Matthew Erickson, Chris Klein, Kai Williams and Thad Stalmack finished in 1:34.83. Both times were good enough to surpass the former Division 2 meet record of 1:35.32 set by Zeeland in 2008.

“It just really set the right spot. Not only did it give us a cushion in points, but it really fired everybody up,” Holland coach Don Kimble said. “For them to go that fast is really something.”

The Dutch boys won their first MHSAA title since taking the LP Division 2 crown in 2007.

“We have a good system that works, and we have a bunch of good kids,” Kimble said. “They worked their butts off.”

Bosko said it’s been his teammates’ goal for years to finish first at the Finals.

“Since my freshman year, we’ve believed that we could do it. And just this year the whole team came together and really made it happen,” he said. “It’s awesome.”

While Holland never relinquished the lead throughout all 12 events, Pioneer pushed the Dutch all day.

“I knew Pioneer would be tough,” Kimble said. “When the team listings came out for divisions back in July, every boy I saw I warned about Pioneer. I know their ability, and I knew right away they were going to be trouble.”

“We knew today when we started the meet it was going to be tough,” Bosko added.

Pioneer coach Dennis Hill said his team “really swam well.”

“The kids came together and had just great swims,” said Hill, who co-coaches the team with his wife Liz. “We came a long ways.”

Pioneer senior Chris Klein was proud of his teammates.

“I think we did a great job,” he said. “A lot of the guys had great times, and we’re really excited about it.”

Klein, in addition to participating in the opening relay, anchored the Pioneers’ second-place 400 freestyle relay while grabbing a pair of first-place individual finishes in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke. He also set a meet record in the breaststroke, and was honored as the Swimmer of the Meet.

“Chris has been so much fun, to watch him as a young ninth grader to grow into a real man. He’s going to Michigan next year, and he’s going to be a big part of that Michigan team,” Hill said. “But he has come so far through hard work and determination. It’s a pleasure to see that kind of stuff happen to young people.”

When asked what kind of work Klein has put into reaching his accomplishments, he responded: “Every day in the pool pushing it as hard as you can, and just knowing that you’ve done what you can do, and trained as hard as you can, and that you’re going to have a great swim.”

St. Johns senior Brennan LaBar emerged as the best diver, winning that competition with 365.20 points. He reclaimed the title he won in 2011 as a sophomore, after finished in second last year.

“That’s all I wanted, was to get the title back, to be state champion again, that really drove me throughout the season,” the Michigan State University-bound diver said. “There’s minimal room for error here, diving against the best in Michigan. I really enjoy diving against the best; it brings out the best in my diving.”

Holland would go on to win five other races on the day to continue its dominance and ensure the title. Kimble, who also coached the Dutch girls team to the Division 2 championship in the fall, joked that perhaps his girls are the only ones who can look down on his boys squad. The Holland girls have won two straight titles.

“The girls like the bragging rights because they have two in a row, so they have a little edge on the boys,” Kimble said. “The boys just take longer to develop this type of level of team. The girls have gotten used to reloading every year and coming back. The guys, we have to reload. And we have a big senior class this year, so we’ll see what happens next.”

But to Bosko and his teammates, all that matters is they went home with the trophy Saturday.

“It’s just expectations really of Holland swimming,” the Dutch senior said. “We’ve always had a tradition of getting a trophy, and really this year, it was all or nothing. It was first or nothing.”

PHOTOS: (Top) A swimmer celebrates during Saturday's Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final at Oakland University. (Middle) Holland holds up its trophy after edging Ann Arbor  Pioneer for the title. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Picking Up Seconds All Over, Cranbrook Picks Up Points to Climb Podium

By Jason Schmitt
Special for MHSAA.com

March 11, 2023

ROCHESTER — Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood edged top-seeded East Grand Rapids by one hundredth of a second Saturday in the 200-yard medley relay at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals at Oakland University.

The Cranes celebrated their victory in the meet’s first event like they had just won the state championship. Little did everyone in attendance know that when all was said and done, that razor-thin margin would in fact be the difference, as Cranbrook captured its first Finals title since 2017. The Cranes totaled 271 team points, beating out the two-time reigning champion Pioneers (259) by 12 points. 

“I’m one of those coaches, I score out the psych sheet, I score out the entries and EGR was 11 points up on us coming into today,” Cranbrook head coach Paul Ellis said. “(Winning) that first relay, that was a 12-point swing. That got the snowball rolling, and we continued to feed off that and go fast.”

Freshman A.J. Farner, senior Ethan Schwab and sophomores Sean Lu and Joe Wiater got the win for Ellis’s team. Schwab and Wiater swam the top splits in their legs, with Wiater rallying his team to victory in the final freestyle leg.

“That win by one one-hundredth really set the tone for the meet,” Schwab said. “It was great to come out with my team and have fun in the first relay and then bring the energy into the next event.”

Adrian’s London Rising celebrates his victory in the 200 freestyle. Schwab brought the energy to all four of his swims at the Finals. The Michigan-bound Schwab won three of the races he entered and set LP Division 3 Finals records in both the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke this weekend. His time of 1:48.23 in Saturday’s IM beat the record he set just a day earlier in the prelims. He then finished with a 54.31 in the 100 breaststroke, beating out Wayland’s Zachery Jenison by more than two seconds but falling just short of his record-setting time of 54.04, set in Friday’s preliminary round.

Schwab was named Swimmer of the Meet by the Michigan Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association for his efforts, which also included a runner-up finish as part of the 400 freestyle relay.

Cranbrook’s 200 freestyle relay team of sophomore Robbie Sarle, senior Christos Tzoumakas, Wiater and junior Will Farner beat out top-seeded and 2022 event champion Grand Rapids Christian for the win. It was one of four victories for the Cranes.

“It was just a phenomenal team effort from top to bottom,” Ellis said. “Everyone did their part. Everyone nickel and dimed their way into the top 16 and nickel and dimed their way by moving up a little bit in each final swim that we had.

“We had huge swims from Will Farner, A.J. Farner and Sean Lu. Joe Wiater was injured last year. He came back and was consolation in the 50 and top eight in the breaststroke. It was a whole bunch of guys from all different classes that did it for us. I’m thrilled with everything they did.”

East Grand Rapids, which came in having won the Division 3 title in both 2021 and 2022, actually took slim leads over Cranbrook after eight events and again after 10. Junior Carter Kegle won the 500 freestyle for the second-straight year, beating out Plainwell freshman Sam Harper by five seconds. The win helped his team take a 10-point lead over Cranbrook. Kegle would finish second in the 200 freestyle and helped his Pioneers win the 400 freestyle relay to end the day. Junior Micah Spitzley and seniors Ted Turnage and Logan McCahill joined Kegle on the winning relay.

“We swam great. We broke three or four school records, and we were in the hunt,” East Grand Rapids head coach Milton Briggs said. “Give credit to Cranbrook. They beat us in that (medley) relay and they won the 200 free relay, which they weren’t supposed to. They had a great second day. They swam out of their minds. They’re a very, very good team.”

Chelsea’s Mitch Brown completes a dive on the way to claiming the title in that event. Grand Rapids Christian junior Ben Sytsma won the 50 freestyle and finished runner-up in the 100 freestyle. He won the 50 in a time of 20.57 seconds, edging Manistee junior Alec Lampen by three tenths of a second. 

Lampen rebounded to win the 100 backstroke in a time of 50.30 seconds. 

Chelsea’s Mitch Brown rolled to victory in the 1-meter diving competition. The junior scored 522.25, outdistancing second-place Gryffin Porter of Haslett (428.75). DeWitt freshman Carson Reynolds was third with 419.65 points.

Fremont senior Matheus Garcia won the 100 freestyle, touching the wall in a time of 44.75 seconds. He beat out Sytsma (44.96) and McCahill (45.20).

The state saw a glimpse of the future, as a pair of freshmen walked away with championships. Otsego’s Liam Smith won the 100 butterfly, and Adrian’s London Rising was tops in the 200 freestyle. Smith entered the weekend with the top-seeded time but was second after Friday’s preliminaries to Holland senior James Baer.

“I always put pressure on myself,” said Smith, who won the final with a time of 49.74. “I came in as the 1-seed so I felt like I had to finish as the 1-seed. But at the same time, I have three more years to come in and do it all over again. It feels awesome.”

Rising, who was second to Kegle after the prelims, said he was stressing out heading into the prelims and all night Friday. 

“All night, I was just visualizing my race,” said Rising, who also finished third in the 100 butterfly. “When I came back, I was more nervous than excited but after I won, it was a big weight lifted off my shoulders. Today, I just focused on myself and didn’t underestimate anybody. I thought it was going to be a good race, and it was.”

Holland Christian finished third with 161 points, and Adrian (135) and Grand Rapids Christian (110) rounded out the top five.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS Cranbrook Kingswood’s Ethan Schwab launches into one of his races Saturday at Oakland University. (Middle) Adrian’s London Rising celebrates his victory in the 200 freestyle. (Below) Chelsea’s Mitch Brown completes a dive on the way to claiming the title in that event. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)