Preview: 3 Champs Look for 3rd Straight

March 10, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Birmingham Brother Rice, Birmingham Seaholm and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood all are seeking their third straight Lower Peninsula boys swimming and diving championships this weekend.

But only two are favored to add another title – and both favorites are facing arguably the toughest competition of their current reigns.

Michigan also will say good-bye to an accomplished group of seniors that have won a combined 16 individual championships – 13 in swimming and three in diving – as they make their final MHSAA Finals appearances.

See below for team favorites and top individuals to watch at all three meets. Preliminaries are Friday, with championship races and diving Saturday. All three Finals also will be streamed live and can be watched with subscription on MHSAA.TV

Click for lineups and seed times for all three meets.

LP Division 1 at Holland Aquatics

Team contenders: Birmingham Brother Rice is competing for its third straight LP Division 1 championship and fourth straight top-two finish after winning last year’s Final by 111 points. The Warriors have 18 swimmers seeded to score, with all three relays enter seeded second. But Ann Arbor Skyline should provide a formidable challenge after finishing runner-up in Division 2 a year ago. The Eagles have 12 swimmers seeded to score including three tops seeds, plus a diver that finished third at his Regional.

Spencer Carl, Holland West Ottawa junior – Posted top-five finishes last season in the butterfly and 200-yard freestyle and is seeded first this time in the butterfly (50.53) and second in the free (1:39.95).

Cameron Craig, Monroe senior – Held the LP Division 1 Finals backstroke record for a season after setting it as a sophomore while also winning the butterfly that winter; Craig is seeded first both in the individual medley (1:47.17) and backstroke (47.84), with that backstroke time 55 hundredths of a second faster than the current all-Finals record set in 2002 and the IM time 11 hundredths of a second faster than the all-Finals record set a year ago.  

Micah DeJonge, Zeeland senior – Holds the top seed in the 500 freestyle (4:30.90) and third seed in the 200 (1:40.68) after taking fourth in both races a year ago.

Drew Grady, Birmingham Brother Rice senior – Finished second in the breaststroke and 10th in the 50 last season and might have the best chance of all his teammates to add an individual title with the seventh seed in the 100 (46.86) but the second, only hundredth of a second behind, in the breaststroke (57.98). 

Jonathan Lee, Detroit Catholic Central sophomore – Should make a big jump after taking 13th in the breaststroke and qualifying in the IM as a freshman last season. Lee is seeded second in the IM (1:53.83) and first in the breaststroke (57.97) this weekend.

Trayton Saladin, Bridgman senior – The reigning champion in the 500 also finished ninth in the 200 free last season; he is seeded ninth in the 200 (1:44.16) and third in the 500 (4:40.70).  

Gabriel Trevino, Zeeland junior – Finished sixth in the 100 freestyle and seventh in the IM in 2015, but enters this meet seeded first in the 50 (20.97) and fifth in the 100 (46.59).

Ryan Vander Meulen, Ann Arbor Skyline senior – Last season’s 200 freestyle champion in LP Division 2 will swim his final high school meet as the top seeds in LP Division 1 in the 200 (1:38.83) and 100 (45.92). He was second in the 100 in LP Division 2 last year.

Jake Herremans, Rockford senior – Posted the highest LP Division 1 Regional score by nearly 15 points after winning LP Division 1 Finals championships as both a sophomore and junior. His 528.45 score in 2015 is the meet record.

LP Division 2 at Saginaw Valley State University

Team contenders: Birmingham Seaholm has won the last two LP Division 2 titles but is ranked only fourth; top-ranked Dexter is the favorite to take the championship back after last winning in 2012 and finishing second in 2014. The Dreadnaughts have 14 top-16 seeds, including three top seeds, plus two divers after finishing third a year ago. Warren DeLaSalle, ranked second, has 19 top-16 seeds including two top seeds, and a diver. And don’t forget about fourth-ranked Seaholm, which has 12 seeded to score including two top seeds, plus the reigning diving champion and another who finished fourth at their Regional.

Scott Carstens, Battle Creek Lakeview senior – Finished fifth in the 50 and ninth in the backstroke last season and will look to finish his career with his first individual title; Carstens is seeded first in the 50 (20.97) and fifth in the backstroke (53.20).  

P.J. Desmet, Warren DeLaSalle senior – Finished second in the backstroke and sixth in the butterfly last season and also is looking to go out with a first championship; he’s seeded first in the butterfly (51.58) and second in the backstroke (52.22) and also swims on the top-seeded 200 medley relay (1:35.38).

Graham Miotke, Rochester Adams sophomore – Should make a big jump after finishing 10th in the 500 and 14th in the 200 freestyle as a freshman. Miotke is seeded first in the 500 (4:36.96) by nearly nine seconds and fourth in the 200 (1:43.53).

Jacob Montague, Grosse Pointe South senior – The Blue Devils’ standout won Division 2 championships in the breaststroke and IM last season, setting meet records in both. He’s top-seeded in the breaststroke (56.96) and IM (1:49.40), by more than five seconds in the latter.

Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow senior – The Dow speedster also won two races last season, the 50 and 100 freestyles. He’s seeded only third in the 50 (21.09) but only 12 hundredths of a second off the top, and first in the 100 (45.90) by more than a second.

Robbie Zofchak, Dexter senior – Part of the Dreadnaughts’ title hopes rest on Zofchak, last season’s champion in the backstroke (setting the meet record) who also finished second to Montague in the IM. He’s seeded first in the backstroke (50.44) and 200 freestyle (1:42.07) and swims on the top-seeded 400 freestyle relay (3:10.29).

Sebastian Fay, Birmingham Seaholm senior – He won last season’s championship by 9.9 points and is the favorite to repeat after posting the top Regional score in Division 2 by 39 points.

LP Division 3 at Eastern Michigan University

Team contenders: The last two LP Division 3 Finals have ended the same way – Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood first and Chelsea second, by 130.5 points last season but by only 25 and a few tenths in 2014. The top-ranked Cranes have 18 top-16 seeds including three top seeds this time. East Grand Rapids, the champion in 2013 and third-place finisher last season, is ranked No. 2 and also has 18 seeded to score with three top seeds, plus brings a Regional diving champion in junior Grant Williams. Chelsea is expected to remain in the hunt, ranked No. 3 and with 14 seeded to score including two top seeds, plus two divers.

Rudy Aguilar, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep junior – Posted four top-eight places in Division 1 over his freshman and sophomore seasons at Brother Rice, including runner-up finishes in the 200 and 500 freestyles last year. He’s seeded second in the backstroke (52.52) and seventh in the 100 freestyle (48.33) this weekend.

Christian Bart, East Grand Rapids sophomore – Finished second in the breaststroke and IM as a freshman and is seeded second in the breaststroke (58.07) and first in the IM (1:53.44) this time.

Skyler Cook-Weeks, Holland Christian sophomore – After finishing second in the 500 and sixth in the 200 freestyles as a freshman, Cook-Weeks is seeded first in both with a time of 1:43.17 in the 200 and 4:37.77 in the 500.

Giorgio DelGrosso, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood senior – The reigning champion in the breaststroke also finished third in the IM last season; he’s seeded first in the breaststroke (57.94) and second to Bart in the IM (1:57.46).

Andy MacGregor, East Grand Rapids senior – He won the 100 and 200 freestyles last season and also has been part of two championship relays over the last two Finals. He’s seeded second to Skyler-Weeks in the 200 (1:44.06) and also second in the 100 (46.95) by two hundredths of a second.

Joey Mangner, Chelsea junior – He’s seeded just ahead of MacGregor in the 100 (46.93) after finishing second to him in 2015, and also seeded first in the 50 (21.02) after winning that race last season.

Alec Nyboer, Hamilton senior – Set the LP Division 3 meet record in winning the butterfly last season and also took third in the backstroke; he’s seeded first in the butterfly (50.40) and third in the backstroke (53.15).

Joey Puglessi, Grand Rapids Catholic Central senior – The reigning champion in the backstroke set the meet record last season and is seeded first this weekend (52.37). He’s also seeded sixth in the 200 (1:46.99) after placing 13th a year ago.

Andrew Trunsky, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood senior – Trunsky was first in the 500 and third in the 200 freestyles as a junior and is part of a strong field in both again, seeded second in the 500 (4:42.65) and fourth in the 200 (1:45.25).

East Grand Rapids 200 freestyle relay – Half the names are new after last season’s meet record-setting victory in 1:26.06. But Bart and MacGregor will join junior Cade Vruggink and senior Mitchell McMahon in an attempt at going faster. They enter with a top seed time of 1:26.91. 

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.)