Rice 3-Peats at Meet Loaded with Stars

March 12, 2016

By Butch Harmon
Special for Second Half

HOLLAND – On paper, it appeared the Birmingham Brother Rice boys swimming and diving team had an easy road to winning the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Swimming and Diving Finals at the Holland Aquatic Center. Totaling 313 points, Brother Rice outdistanced second-place Saline by 77 points.

But winning the title, Brother’s Rice’s third consecutive, was anything but easy as the Warriors overcame plenty of obstacles during the season and then held off a number of impressive teams in this weekend.

“We went through a lot of adversity this year,” Brother Rice coach Mike Venos said. “We almost lost a kid to meningitis this year, and we also lost some kids that we expected to score points for us this year.”

To overcome the hurdles, Brother Rice closed ranks and used its overall team depth to march to its third straight title.

“This was the best team effort I’ve been around,” Venos added. “That was the big key for us, our team effort. Our overall team depth carried us all year. The kids understand that the most important thing is the Warrior on our chest and not any individual glory. They always put the team first.”

That team-first attitude showed up in the relays where Brother Rice swimmers won two of three and finished second in the third.

Brother Rice captured the 200-yard medley relay as sophomore Alex Margherio, senior Drew Grady, junior Jake Zalinski and junior Jack Grady turned in a winning time of 1:31.55. The Warriors also won the 400 freestyle relay as Zalinski, senior Bobby Powrie, Margherio and junior Patrick Olmsted turned in a winning time of 3:05.94.

Brother Rice also had an individual champion as Drew Grady won the 100 Breaststroke by more than two full seconds with a time of 55.18.

The lone relay not won by Brother Rice was the 200 Freestyle Relay. Ann Arbor Pioneer, the fifth-place finisher overall, captured race as senior Andrew Heise, senior Joe Riggs, junior Noah Frassrand and senior Jason Orringer-Hau turned in a time of 1:24.41 to edge Brother Rice by fourth tenths of a second.

Individually, Monroe senior Cameron Craig put on a spectacular show of swimming excellence, winning a pair of individual titles in LP Division 1 and all-Finals record times.

One of the top high school swimmers in the country, Craig won an MHSAA title as a sophomore. Last year, however, Craig took the year off from high school swimming to train for the upcoming Olympics.

“This is my senior year and I just wanted to come and see everyone that I competed against as a freshman and a sophomore,” Craig said. “This is really a good way to end the year.”

Craig, who will swim collegiately at Arizona State University, raced to victory in the 200 individual medley in a record time of 1:45.42.  He set his second Division 1 and all-Finals record in the backstroke in a time of 47.33. 

“I’ve been training real hard for this,” Craig said. “It was a goal of mine to win these state titles and set new all-class records.”

A local swimmer also came away with a pair of individual titles. Holland West Ottawa junior Spencer Carl won the closest event of the meet when he took first place in the 200 freestyle. Carl edged Ann Arbor Skyline’s Ryan Vander Meulen by one hundredth of a second in a time of 1:37.15 while Vander Meulen finished in 1:37.16.

“I’m extremely happy,” Carl said. “He was seeded a full second ahead of me. I think my underwaters were the difference. The last 25 yards I did super. That was what I’ve been focusing on all season.”

The MHSAA title was the first of Carl’s career, but he was not finished for the day. Four events later the local standout added a second title as he won the butterfly in 48.25. That time also set an LP Division 1 Finals record.

“It means a lot to do it close to home,” Carl said. “I had a lot of friends and family here. To do this in front of them is really special.”

Carl wasn’t the only local swimmer to shine in front of the hometown fans, as senior Micah DeJonge of nearby Zeeland won the 500 freestyle in a time of 4:29.23. DeJonge also helped Zeeland to a second-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay and a third-place finish as a team overall.

The diving competition developed into a tight, two-way battle between Saline junior Dakota Hurbis and Rockford senior Jake Herremans.

Herremans came into the event as the two-time reigning champion and LP Division 1 Finals record holder. Hurbis finished second as a freshman and third last year.

This time it was Hurbis who came out on top, as he totaled 516.8 to edge Herremans, who finished a score of 514.55.

“Going in, I really wanted this to be the best meet I’ve had,” Hurbis said. “I really focused on my dives, and once I started hitting my dives I got into a nice rhythm. This is really big for me.”

Hurbis’ efforts helped Saline secure a second-place finish in the team standings.

Jackson O’Dowd, a senior from Livonia Stevenson, was another swimmer who broke through. He won the 50 freestyle in 20.70.

“I finished third in two events last year,” O’Dowd said. “This is a big deal for me and a lot of fun. I was really hoping to win one my senior year.”

Vander Meulen, a champion last season in LP Division 2, did win a close race Saturday in the 100 freestyle. His time of 45.75 edged Henry Schutte of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central by four hundredths of a second. Skyline finished fourth overall as a team.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Members of the Brother Rice boys swimming and diving team hoist an MHSAA Finals championship trophy for the third straight season. (Middle) Monroe’s Cameron Craig swims the individual medley, one of two races he won on the day. (Below) Holland West Ottawa's Spencer Carl swims for the win in the butterfly. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Picking Up Seconds All Over, Cranbrook Picks Up Points to Climb Podium

By Jason Schmitt
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)