Performance: Saline's Dakota Hurbis

February 16, 2017

Dakota Hurbis
Saline senior – Swimming & Diving

Hurbis is finishing a high school career that will rank among the most prolific in Michigan high school diving history, and over the last year he’s been on a particular tear. After defeating reigning champion Jake Herremans of Rockford at last season’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final, Hurbis has continued to be the favorite to beat, and earned the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week” by posting a score of 531.70 last Friday to break a 17-year-old record and win the event at the Michigan Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association meet at Eastern Michigan University.

Hurbis finished second in LP Division 1 and third as a sophomore before last year’s championship win, and his meet record at EMU bested the previous by more than 11 points. It’s in part a product of hard work; Hurbis has been training at EMU since he was 9 and during high school season regularly has put in double practices, even when he also was playing baseball as a freshman. This winter's performance has been impressive for another reason: Last spring, after taking first and second places at USA Diving Junior Regionals, Hurbis was faced with the challenge of coming back from June shoulder surgery – which he accomplished, about a month early, in October.  

A big-time University of Michigan, New England Patriots and Detroit Tigers fan, he’ll be rooting for other Tigers the next few years diving at Louisiana State University. Hurbis carries a 3.4 grade-point average and is interested in studying for a future in sports business. First, he'll help the Hornets as they try to break Birmingham Brother Rice's three-season hold on the Division 1 title; Saline was runner-up a year ago. Hurbis is a team captain, a rarity for a diver as he competes in only one event for his team, but also a testament to his leadership. 

Coach Todd Brunty said: “Dakota is simply one of the best we have ever had. He is hard-working and dedicated to his sport. He has worked tirelessly all year round at Legacy Diving Club in Ypsilanti for as long as I can remember to become one of the best divers in Michigan high school history. He was elected by his teammates as captain of our team for many reasons. I think the main reason is that he has always been a team-first guy. Many swimmers or divers that are as good as he is may not compete in high school and just dive club diving (where they can spend more time on 3-meter and 10-meter events not competed in high school but competed in college). Dakota stayed loyal to his team and to the guys he grew up with here in Saline. He has even swam at our championship meets and dual meets to fill crucial relay positions to help the team. He is also very helpful to new swimmers and divers. Dakota is always supportive and helpful to them, teaching them new things and spreading the love of the sport to them. It is like having a second dive coach."

Performance Point: “The MISCA meet is a really big meet for me because it’s all divisions; we have the state meet but it’s only our division, so this is the best competition I’ll face with divers from all over the state," Hurbis said. "I was seeded first going in but I knew a couple of people were really close to me, and I knew I’d have to have a really good meet. I just went into that meet knowing I’d have to focus up a little more and do a little extra, and once the meet started all my training and everything took over. I got into meet mentality, and I had myself a pretty good meet.”

It’s always been diving: “Ever since I was a kid, I liked being around the water. My older brother (Steven, 2009 grad) swam, and I saw him on the high school team and that he got a lot of close friends (from swimming). I did the country club stuff when I was younger, and I just enjoyed being around the water. Once I started diving, it came pretty easy to me, and I had coaches tell me I could be good at it. I played baseball, I played football, I swam a little bit, but diving is what I’ve always been passionate about.”

Speak up: “I’ve tried to be the best team player I can be during my four years here. My sophomore year I began giving pregame speeches in the locker room, and every opportunity I’ve gotten I’ve tried to step up and lead the team – be outspoken, be a good example for the people following me. … When we go into the locker room before meets, sometimes people say a couple things. (I try to be) a little funny and (with) a little bit of motivation. The key is you’ve got to mix them both together.”

Comeback trail: “My shoulder had been bothering me since winter, and I had a pretty big torn labrum. I wanted to wait until after senior Zones, but my coach told me to get (surgery) done as soon as possible so I could come back for my senior year. … I ended up getting in the water in mid-October again, and in the beginning I was just trying to get all my dives back on all boards – 1-meter, 3-meter and platform. A lot of people were surprised I came back early, and when I came back I got my dives back right away. I’ve got a couple of extra dives on 1-meter I haven’t competed yet, and on 3-meter I’ve got a couple of new dives, which is nice. I’m constantly adding stuff; some people throw bigger DD (degree of difficulty) dives, but I try to do what scores best.”

Business of sports: “I’m actually really good with numbers, math and numbers, so I might do something with that. My whole life I’ve followed sports; I can tell you anything about professional sports, college, and my brother and dad are the same way. It’s sometime I’d like to go into.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan 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 2016-17 honorees:
Feb. 2: Foster Loyer, Clarkston basketball Read
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Saline's Dakota Hurbis tucks during a dive at his home pool this season. (Middle) Hurbis will attempt to add a second-straight MHSAA Finals championship next month. (Top photo courtesy of the Hurbis family, bottom photo courtesy of the Saline Post.)

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.)