Marquette Repeats in Record Fashion

By John Vrancic
Special for

February 21, 2015

MARQUETTE — The Marquette boys left nothing to chance Saturday as they retained their MHSAA Upper Peninsula Finals swimming and diving title with 326 points.

The Redmen, also champions in 2014, broke four of five U.P. Finals records that fell on this day, with all also school and pool records.

Junior Sam Williams established a record in the 200-yard freestyle race in one minute, 47.59 seconds and the 500 (4:55.74). He also helped the Redmen set a record in the 200 medley relay (1:41.14) and win the 400 freestyle event (3:27.41).

“Sam setting those records were definitely a highlight for us,” said Marquette coach Nathan McFarren. “He’s such a hard worker and has a humble demeanor, and today he reaped what he sowed.

“Today’s performance by both of our teams was pretty awesome. I’m so lucky to be part of this swimming community. We’re not like Goliath. We’re a team. It takes every single kid to make this possible.”

First-year entry Gladstone was runner-up at 230 points, and Sault Ste. Marie edged Kingsford for third 198-195½ . 

Marquette senior Nathan Rotundo also set a record while earning his third straight 100 breaststroke title (1:00.29) and recorded a three-peat in the 200 individual medley (2:05.19).

“I think all the training we put in paid off today,” said Rotundo, who also helped the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. “I felt pretty confident coming in. I wasn’t focusing on the win as much as I was on going for time. Everybody on our team did awesome. This is probably one of the best Finals this school has seen in a long time.

“We were a little nervous before the meet because we knew Gladstone had some good swimmers. It’s really cool for them to be able to be part of the U.P. Finals. They’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”

Gladstone sophomore Matt LeClaire set a meet record in the 100 backstroke at 54.91, won the 100 freestyle (51.08) and helped the Braves earn runner-up honors in the 200 medley (1:45.12) and 400 freestyle (3:32.27) relays.

“I really concentrated on that race,” LeClaire said of his record-setting performance in the backstroke. “I was amazed. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t expecting to get this time.

“Taking runner-up as a team is all right. I think we performed as well as we could. Marquette just beat us.”

McFarren, who swam two at Alma College, was impressed with Saturday’s performances.

“I’ve seen faster swimming, but I’ve never seen so much fast swimming as I did here today,” he said. “Our guys outperformed all my expectations today.”

Also taking a first for Gladstone was senior Thomas Prica in the 100 butterfly (57.09).

“I added about three seconds today, but times tend to fluctuate,” said Prica. “We’ve been swimming against these teams for years and years as a YMCA team. It’s nice to be recognized as a high school program. This is just another day of trying to get it done. You just can’t let the atmosphere get to you. It’s not different unless you make it different.”

Sault Ste. Marie was especially successful in Friday’s diving competition, where it grabbed three of the top four spots.

Senior Kyle Flickinger won with a personal-best 223.85 points. Classmate Levi Furr was runner-up (212.2) and junior Erik Finley took fourth (171).

“Staying calm was the key,” said Flickinger. “Last year, I got stressed out and didn’t do as well as I hoped. Our coaches gave me some good advice, and having the competition in practice helped.” 

The results also were pleasing to Sault diving coach Dylan Mayer.

“Kyle had a very good score,” he said. “He has all the mechanics down. From the beginning of the season, we knew we had a pretty strong team. Then, about mid-season, we felt pretty confident we could place high up here. It takes a lot of mental toughness to be a diver. It’s about 30 percent physical and 70 percent mental in my mind.” 

Sault freshman Leevi Olson won the 50 freestyle (23.11) and helped the fourth-seeded Blue Devils capture the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.41).

“I didn’t think we’d win it because we were such an underdog,” said Olson, who anchored that relay. “The adrenalin just kind of kicked in for everybody. I knew where I was, but didn’t feel anything. I wasn’t sure we had won. We were really excited to get it.” 

“I had a real good start in the 50. My feet and legs worked together real good. It helped to be seeded first. That got my confidence up.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: Competitors race during Saturday's MHSAA Upper Peninsula Finals at Marquette High School. (Click to see more from 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.)