Performance: Holland Christian's Skyler Cook-Weeks

March 17, 2018

Skyler Cook-Weeks
Holland Christian senior – Swimming

Cook-Weeks capped an outstanding career at Saturday’s Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals at Saginaw Valley State University with two more individual and two relay titles to help Holland Christian to its first MHSAA team title since 1989 and earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

Cook-Weeks won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:37.27 and the 500 in 4:25.84, and also swam on the victorious 200 (1:24.89) and 400 (3:04.52) freestyle relays. His individual wins and the 400 freestyle relay all set meet records. Total, he finished his high school career with four individual and three relay Finals championships. All four times from Saturday also set school records, and Cook-Weeks also tops Holland Christian’s all-time leaderboard in the 50 (20.62) and 100 (45.03) freestyles.

After following five-time Finals individual champion brother Parker Cook-Weeks through Holland Christian, Skyler also will follow Parker to Queens University (N.C.) – which is competing this weekend for a fourth straight NCAA Division II championship. Skyler plans to study business and architectural design and spends part of his Holland Christian school day in work study with an uncle’s construction company.

Coach Todd Smeenge said: “Skyler’s success has been due to a strong work ethic and drive to get faster. Skyler sets goals that are just far enough out that he has to really work hard to make those goals. He is not the biggest kid on the team, but his heart makes up for what he might lack in stature, and his stamina takes over from there. Skyler is like the energizer bunny in the pool. It's not often that a workout taxes him beyond what his body can handle. When it does, he recovers and attacks his goals again the next day. … As far as the team goes, his work ethic pushes a lot of his peers, but it is really his words of encouragement to younger athletes, guys that are trying out the sport for the first time, that is going to be missed. He isn't flashy about it, but I often see the little things he does and says on the deck at meets that encourages or positively challenges those newer or younger swimmers.”

Performance Point: “The end part was the best part,” Cook-Weeks said of Saturday’s Finals, “because that’s when we won the meet and sealed it off with the 400 free relay, and that sealed the whole thing for us to win our first championship in 20 years. … Each practice we would always push each other to be the best; even if it was warm-up we would go fast. But once we got to the main sets, that’s where we’d push each other. Even for the kids who just started out, their freshman year, we wanted to push them to be the best that they can be. … I’m happy with how it turned out. At the beginning of the season, if somebody would say, ‘You’re going to win a state championship at the end of the season,’ I would say I don’t think we would. But in the end, we got it done.”

Picked up from Parker: “After my sophomore year, I went to his DII nationals in Indianapolis, and I went there and I watched how their team interacted with each other and treated everyone. And I took that to my junior year and to my senior year, to be more interactive – help people with what they need to be helped with and be a better teammate and a better leader.”

Building faith: “I think (becoming a leader) helped me become a better person, and it helped my faith a lot because my faith when I came in as a freshman wasn’t that good. But it progressed better and better throughout the years. I got into praying before each race, and praying for others that they could do the best they could do.”

Mr. Versatile: “I’ve always been known as a distance swimmer, but I kinda developed into more of a sprinter. So I can do the 50 and 100 but I was really known for the 200, 500, 1,000 and mile. When I first swam (the mile) in the summer of 2014, I wanted to scratch out of it because I hadn’t done it before. It took forever. Once I swam the mile for the first time, I went a pretty decent time. After that I developed into a different swimmer with a lot of endurance. I want to try to take that into sprint events because that’s where I can help out the team.”

Back on dry land: “Everyone at school has probably only known me as a swimmer, like that’s all he focuses on. But when I get home I like to watch other sports and hang around with friends. … I like to watch football – I root for the Carolina Panthers.” 

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2017-18 honorees:
March 8: Dakota Greer, Howard City Tri-County wrestling - Read
March 1: Camree' Clegg, Wayne Memorial basketball - Read
February 23: Aliah Robertson, Sault Ste. Marie swimming - Read
February 16: Austin O'Hearon, Eaton Rapids wrestling - Read
February 9: Sophia Wiard, Muskegon Oakridge basketball - Read
February 2: Brenden Tulpa, Hartland hockey - Read
January 25: Brandon Whitman, Dundee wrestling - Read
January 18: Derek Maas, Holland West Ottawa swimming - Read
January 11: Lexi Niepoth, Bellaire basketball - Read
November 30: La'Darius Jefferson, Muskegon football - Read
November 23: Ashley Turak, Farmington Hills Harrison swimming - Read
November 16: Bryce Veasley, West Bloomfield football - Read 
November 9: Jose Penaloza, Holland soccer - Read
November 2: Karenna Duffey, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North cross country - Read
October 26: Anika Dy, Traverse City Central golf - Read
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Skyler Cook-Weeks launches during the 200-yard freestyle at the LP Division 3 Finals. (Middle) Cook-Weeks follows the line on the way to the start for the 500. (Click for more from

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.)