Marquette Regains UP Boys Title

By John Vrancic
Special for

February 15, 2014

MARQUETTE — It was a great Saturday to be a Marquette swimmer as the Redmen swimming and diving team earned its first Upper Peninsula title in four years with 331 points at its home pool. 

The Redmen were followed by defending champ Sault Ste. Marie with 306 points and Kingsford with 181.

Marquette topped the standings in all 11 swimming events after Sault Ste. Marie grabbed the top three spots in Friday’s diving competition. 

“We knew Sault Ste. Marie would be real good in diving,” Marquette coach Nate McFerrin said. “This is a pretty awesome moment. We wanted all the kids (boys and girls) on the podium (for post-meet photos) because as an adult you don’t get many moments like this.”

A trio of Marquette swimmers had a hand in four firsts, including senior Tony Lackey, junior Nate Rotundo and sophomore Sam Williams. 

Lackey won the 50-yard freestyle race in 23.65 seconds, 100 freestyle (53.66) and helped the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays to victories

Rotundo, helping the 200 and 400 freestyle relays to firsts, also won the 100 backstroke (1:03.00) and 200 individual medley (2:07.82). 

“They (Sault) got far ahead of us in diving, but we have some real good swimmers,” Rotundo said. “I’m pretty proud of this team. We really wanted this meet because we hadn’t won it since 2010. Our medley relay was just .3 second off the school record (1:44.74), which is pretty impressive. The school record is our goal for next year. We came in here knowing we had to do our best."

Williams captured 100 butterfly (56.03) and 500 freestyle (5:10.67) and helped the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays as well.

“I had been training real hard, but tapered off this week,” said Williams, who swam personal bests in both of his individual races. “We were behind (Sault) going into the 500 freestyle. Also, I wasn’t the top seed in butterfly, which really motivated me. I really wanted to come through for our team.” 

Freshman Ben Luke also helped the 200 freestyle relay to victory, which gave the Redmen their first lead (236-233), and Luke also placed third in 100 backstroke (1:06.61) and fourth in 200 IM (2:26.18).

“I’ve been swimming for eight years and this is the best meet I’ve had in my life,” Luke said. “I’m happy with all my races and my teammates’ races. I really wanted to swim today and dropped four seconds from my previous best (in the 200 IM). 

“In my opinion, the breaststroke is the most challenging because it takes a lot of technique and skill. But Nate (Rotundo) has mastered that.”

Sault junior Levi Furr topped the standings in diving with 186.65 points, followed by junior Kyle Flickinger (179.9) and sophomore Eric Finley (172.95). 

“Diving has been one of our strongest events all year,” Sault coach Denise Mayer said. “That fired our kids coming into today’s swimming events.

“Marquette has very strong swimmers. Nate (coach McFerrin) and his staff should be very proud of them. I’m proud of all our kids, too. There wasn’t a kid on this team that didn’t swim a personal best.” 

Not only was McFerrin proud of what the Redmen accomplish, he was impressed with Williams’ performance in the 500.

“Sam dropped 10 seconds in the 500, which is nearly unheard off for a swimmer of his caliber,” said McFerrin, who completed his third year as head coach. “I’m finally getting the feeling this team is becoming ours. I’ve come a long way in learning how to prepare a team for this meet. We’ve been there, done that. We can do it again.” 

Also winning individual races for Marquette were junior Collin McCommons in 200 freestyle (1:56.98) and freshman Andrew Kilpela in 100 backstroke (1:00.24).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS w: (Top) Marquette sophomore Sam Williams finishes off a 100-yard butterfly championship Saturday at the UP Swimming and Diving Finals. (Middle) Teammate Tony Lackey celebrates his 100 freestyle championship. (Photos courtesy of Jarvinen Photos.)

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

By Jason Schmitt
Special for

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.)