Preview: Team Titles Too Close to Call

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 7, 2019

The races for team championships at this weekend’s Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals could, as a group, finish as the closest in recent memory.

Both Division 1 and Division 3 have a pair of teams tied for the top spot in the rankings heading into Friday’s preliminaries. Meanwhile, Dexter is the three-time reigning Division 2 champion but extended its streak with a slim victory a year ago.

Preliminaries are Friday and Finals are Saturday, with action beginning at noon for both. All three Finals also will be streamed live and can be watched with subscription on Click for lineups and seed times for all three meets, and see below for a number of team and individual contenders at all three meets.

LP Division 1 at Holland Aquatic Center

Reigning champion: Ann Arbor Skyline
2018 runner-up: Holland West Ottawa
2019 top-ranked: T-1. Holland West Ottawa, T-1. Detroit Catholic Central, 3. Birmingham Rice 

Skyline won it first championship last season, breaking a four-year winning streak by Brother Rice. West Ottawa finished 67 points back, and a championship this weekend – the program’s first since 1971 – would be a crowning achievement for a senior class that has otherwise dominated. West Ottawa has 12 individual entries and all three relays seeded to score among the top 16, with five top seeds. Detroit Catholic Central has only one top seed, but 11 individual entries and all three relays seeded to score plus a diver. Rice has nine individual entries and three relays seeded to score, plus a diver. The Shamrocks are competing for their first MHSAA Finals title and finished seventh a year ago, while Rice finished third a year ago.

Hunter Gubeno, Howell junior – After taking fifth in the 500 last season, Gubeno is expected to climb the podium multiple times with the top seeds in that race by four seconds (4:33.82) and the 200 free (1:40.98).

Derek Maas, Holland West Ottawa senior – Maas won the 100 backstroke and finished third in the 200 individual medley as a junior and also swam on the champion 200 medley relay. He has the top seeds in the IM (1:52.73) and butterfly (50.23) and is expected to swim on the top-seeded medley relay (1:34.28) and fourth-seeded 400 free relay.

Liam McDonell, Birmingham Brother Rice senior – The top seed in the backstroke (51.93) also will swim the butterfly and on the 200 medley and 400 free relays. He finished 12th in the backstroke at last year’s Finals.

Henry Schutte, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central senior – The four-time Finals champion sprinter is looking to add a few more titles to his two in both the 50 and 100 freestyles won the last two seasons. He’s seeded first in the 50 at 20.35 seconds, 34 hundredths off his all-Finals record 20.01 swam last season. He’s also seeded first in the 100 at 44.27 and is expected to swim on the third-seeded 200 freestyle relay and ninth-seeded 200 medley relay.

Khadin Soto, Holland West Ottawa senior – Soto finished sixth in the breaststroke and also was part of that medley relay championship in 2018. He’s seeded first in the breaststroke (56.17) and sixth in the 200 freestyle, and is slated to swim on the 200 medley and fourth-seeded 400 freestyle relays.

Holland West Ottawa 200 freestyle relay – Senior Sam Smith, juniors Gavin Temple and Jamahl Hogan and freshman Kevin Maas enter with the top seed time of 1:25.16, 1.48 seconds off the meet record swam in 2015 by Ann Arbor Pioneer.

William Henry Schirmer, Ann Arbor Skyline senior – Schirmer is seeking to finish his high school career with his third straight Division 1 championship. His Regional score of 529.20 was nearly 47 points higher than the rest of the Division 1 field, and he should make a run at the meet record of 528.45 achieved in 2015.

Division 2 at Eastern Michigan University

Reigning champion: Dexter
2018 runner-up: Rochester Adams
2019 top-ranked: 1. Dexter, 2. Birmingham Seaholm, 3. Birmingham Groves. 

Dexter has won three straight Division 2 championships, last season’s by 21.5 points. The Dreadnaughts have 10 individual entries and all three relays seeded to score this weekend, plus two divers competing. Seaholm, which finished fifth last season, has 11 individual entries and all three relays seeded to score. Groves was third last season, 50.5 points off the lead, and could make a move with eight individual entries and three relays seeded to score, including a top seed. 

Alexander Capizzo, Fraser junior – Capizzo won the 200 IM and 500 freestyle as both a freshman and sophomore. He’s the top seed in the IM (1:53.79) and the third seed in the 500 (4:41.08).

Niklas Eberly, Dexter senior – Eberly won the butterfly and 200 free last season and was on the winning 200 free relay. Switching things up a bit, he’s seeded second in the 50 (21.06) and first in the butterfly (49.13) and is expected to swim on the top-seeded 400 free relay (3:12.07) and fourth-seeded medley relay.

Jacob Grover, Byron Center senior – Grover is competing in Division 2 this weekend after finishing second in the breaststroke and fourth in the IM in Division 3 in 2018. He is seeded first in the breaststroke (57.61) and third in the IM (1:55.13) and will swim on the medley and 200 freestyle relays.

Eric Hieber, Walled Lake Western junior – After finishing ninth in the 200 free and fifth in the 500 last year, Hieber is expected to make a big jump. He’s seeded first in both races, at 1:40.68 in the 200 and by nine seconds in the 500 at 4:31.73. He also is expected to swim on the 200 and 400 free relays.

Luke Lezotte, Midland Dow junior – In his first season at Dow after moving from Florida, Lezotte will chase at least one meet record. He’s seeded first in both sprints – his 20.52 in the 50 is seven hundredths of a second off the record achieved in 2010 – and he’s seeded first in the 100 free (46.12) by more than a second. He’s also slated to swim on the top-seeded 200 free relay (1:27.38) and second-seeded medley relay.

Tyler Vo, Holland senior – Vo finished sixth in the backstroke last season but is seeded first in that race this weekend (52.23). He’s also seeded fifth in the butterfly (52.46) and expected to swim on the 200 free and medley relays.

Hunter Hollenbeck, Okemos junior – The reigning champion scored 548.40 to win his Regional by nearly 146 points, and his score was 90 higher than any other diver in Division 2. He scored 503.15 at last season’s Final and could make a run at the meet record of 537 from 2009.

Division 3 at Oakland University

Reigning champion: Holland Christian
2018 runner-up: East Grand Rapids
2019 top-ranked: T-1. Holland Christian, T-1. East Grand Rapids, 3. Spring Lake. 

A year ago, Holland Christian broke Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood’s four-year hold on the Division 3 title. East Grand Rapids is hoping to break a streak of three straight runner-up finishes by taking the next step. Holland Christian is talented and deep, with 15 individual entries and all three relays seeded to score (with two top seeds) plus a diver competing. East Grand Rapids also has 15 individual entries and three relays seeded to score, plus a diver. Spring Lake has only seven individual entries with its three relays seeded to score – but six top seeds and an opportunity to make things interesting at the top.

Jonas Cantrell, Mason sophomore – Cantrell is seeded first in the 500 (4:41.86) after finishing 14th a year ago. He’s also seeded third in the 200 freestyle (1:45.44) and slated to swim on the 400 free relay.

Andrew Dobrzanski, Milan freshman – Heading into his first Finals, Dobrzanski is seeded first in the IM (1:57.08) by more than two seconds and the breaststroke (58.01) by more than a second. He’s also expected to swim on the 200 medley and 400 free relays.

Kevin Losee, Spring Lake junior – Losee finished fourth in the 200 and 500 freestyles and as part of two runner-up relays in 2018. He’s seeded first in the 200 (1:43.99) and second in the 500 (4:48.07) and expected to swim on top-seeded 200 (1:25.27) and 400 (3:07.52) freestyle relays.

Cam Peel, Spring Lake senior – Last season’s champ in the 100 free (and third-place finisher in the 50) is seeded first in both with a 20.85 in the 50 and by two seconds with a 44.81 in the 100. The 100 time is 16 hundredths of a second faster than the meet record he swam last season. He’s also slated to swim on the top-seeded 200 and 400 free relays.

Riley VanMeter, Holland Christian senior – He finished second in the butterfly and backstroke last season and swam on two winning relays, and could lead a repeat run entering as the top seed in the butterfly (49.75) and third in the backstroke (52.60) and with spots on the second-seeded 200 and 400 freestyle relays. His butterfly time is six tenths of a second off the meet record set in 2015.

Joey Wachter, Spring Lake junior – After finishing fifth in the backstroke and ninth in the 100 free last season, Wachter also is expected to surge. He’s seeded first in the backstroke (51.15) and second in the 50 (21.09) and also will swim on the 200 and 400 free relays.

Spring Lake 200 freestyle relay – Wachter, senior Sam Sella, Losee and Peel enter with a 1:25.27 seed time, 2.25 seconds off the meet record achieved in 2016.

Spring Lake 400 freestyle relay – Freshman Charles Brown along with Losee, Wachter and Peel have a seed time of 3:07.52, exactly three seconds off the meet record swam by Holland Christian a year ago. 

Caden Petrak, St. Johns senior – The reigning champion won his Regional with a score of 467.85, although it was only the second-highest in Division 3 behind that of East Grand Rapids’ junior Nicholas Merritt (478.45).

PHOTOS: Swimmers prepare to launch at the start of a championship race at the 2017 Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals.  (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.)