4th-Straight Finals Title Gives Pioneer 4 Straight Seasons Winning Every Meet

By Tim Robinson
Special for MHSAA.com

November 18, 2023

YPSILANTI – Everyone dreams of going out on top.

Very few did so like Ann Arbor Pioneer captains Stella Chapman and Yan Yee Adler.

They finished their high school swimming careers unbeaten Saturday, as in never having been on a losing team at a high school swim meet, be it duals, conference or MHSAA Finals – a most memorable four-for-four for those seniors. 

Ann Arbor Pioneer won its fourth Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship meet in a row, the most consecutive for the Pioneers since they won nine straight from 2000-2008.

“It never gets old,” Pioneer coach Stefanie Kerska said following a celebratory dive into the Jones Natatorium pool. “It was a total team effort from the young rookie swimmers to the veterans to the divers, and it's a really rewarding win for us.”

A Saline swimmer competes Saturday.Chapman and Adler finished 1-2 in the 200-yard individual medley. Chapman broke her meet record in the 100 backstroke, improving from 53.69 seconds in 2022 to 53.54 on Saturday.

“Getting first is big,” Chapman said. “To have my best time in the IM and then (improve) on my best time, and backstroke is something I'm really, really happy with.”

Adler emphasized Pioneer’s title was a team effort. 

“I think it's just our culture. We really swim for each other,” she said. “And everyone on this team knows that it's a team effort, not an individual effort and none of us would be able to do what we do if it wasn't for the people around us.”

Kerska said her swimmers deserve the credit. 

“To ask a group of girls never to take their eye off the prize, (and) never drop the ball is really impressive,” she said. “It was a great team win. This is one of the first ones where, you know, we just came in (with) numbers and we were pretty relentless with the points that we were scoring. So just real rewarding for us.”

Pioneer finished comfortably in first with 301 points. 

Grand Haven, which went unbeaten in its dual meet season and tied for the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red championship with Jenison, took second, edging the Wildcats by winning the final race of the day, the 400 freestyle relay.

Swimmers launch for the medley relay.“We needed to take at least second place in that 400 free relay for us to be second overall,” Grand Haven coach Doug Thorne said. “And the girls rose to it and won the 400, so it sealed the deal. To come here at the state meet and take second place is just beyond our wildest dreams. We're really thrilled.”

The Buccaneers were led by Rosalie Springer, who won the 100 freestyle for the second time in three years and swam the anchor leg on the 400 free relay.

Sophia Umstead won the butterfly and breaststroke for Jenison, while Grace Albrecht won the 50 freestyle and was part of the 200 freestyle relay team that set a meet record in 1:32.85.

But the day, as it has the last four years, belonged to Pioneer.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Adler said of the end of her high school career. ”I love this team and I love what we've been able to do. But I know everyone's gonna be all good. I'm very confident in the team in the future and years to come. So they're in great hands.”

Click for full results

(PHOTOS by High School Sports Scene.)

3 Receive National Honors from NHSACA, Coaching Pair Named to Hall of Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

July 11, 2024

One of the longest-serving members of the MHSAA Representative Council and two longtime Michigan high school coaches have received highest honors this summer from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.

Brighton athletic director John Thompson was named Athletic Director of the Year during the NHSACA’s annual conference June 26 in Bismarck, N.D. He has supervised the Bulldogs’ highly-accomplished athletic program for two decades and served on the Representative Council the last 14 years, including currently as vice president.

Thompson also this year received the Thomas Rashid Athletic Director of the Year Award from the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). Brighton was selected as an MIAAA exemplary athletic program in 2015 and as an ESPN unified champion school in 2018, the latter recognizing its statewide leadership in cultivating unified sport opportunities.

Additionally, Farmington Hills Mercy girls golf coach Vicky Kowalski and Livonia Stevenson girls swimming & diving coach Greg Phil were named NHSACA National Coach of the Year in their respective sports.

Kowalski completed her 46th season coaching Mercy last fall by leading the program to its second-straight Lower Peninsula Division 2 championship and fourth MHSAA Finals title overall. She also in January was named the 2022-23 National Coach of the Year in her sport by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association. She was inducted into the Michigan High School Coaches Association (MHSCA) Hall of Fame this year for both golf and bowling.

Phil has coached girls swimming & diving since 1976, including at Stevenson since 1985. After winning the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East title, the most recent of several league championships under his leadership, Stevenson finished 16th at last season’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals and previously had placed Finals runner-up twice. Phil was named to the MHSCA Hall of Fame in 2012.

All three honorees were nominated for the national recognition by the MHSCA. Beal City baseball coach Brad Antcliff, now-retired Leland volleyball coach Laurie Glass, Ann Arbor Greenhills boys tennis coach Eric Gajar and Lowell wrestling coach R.J. Boudro also were National Coach of the Year finalists.

Additionally, longtime softball coaches Kay Johnson of Morenci and Kris Hubbard from Ottawa Lake Whiteford were inducted into the NHSACA Hall of Fame. Johnson went over 1,000 career wins this spring and has led her program since 1993, including to Class C championships in 1985 and 1986. Hubbard retired after the 2019 season with an 865-380-3 record since taking over in 1974, with Class D titles in 1984, 1985 and 1987.