Another EGR Championship Unfolds in D3
November 23, 2013
By Dean Holzwarth
Special to Second half
HOLLAND – East Grand Rapids' Emily Lundquist has dedicated more than 10 years to the pool.
On Saturday afternoon, the perfect scenario unfolded to close out her high school career.
Lundquist was a part of the Pioneers' 400 freestyle relay team that won the final event, and they did it with a record-breaking performance.
East Grand Rapids clocked a Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals-record time of 3 minutes, 30.35 seconds to wrap up another MHSAA team title.
“It was incredible to end a meet like that, and basically my swimming career,” Lundquist said. “I've been swimming for 11 years, and that's the last time I'll ever swim. It was a great event.”
The Pioneers dominated Saturday's MHSAA girls swimming and diving LP Division 3 Finals at Holland Aquatic Center.
East Grand Rapids tallied 362 points, while Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood was a distant second with 220 points. Detroit Country Day was third with 162 points and Holland Christian recorded 153 points to take fourth.
It was the Pioneers' 18th MHSAA Finals championship in girls swimming and diving, and they achieved success this season with a team bolstered by a talented group of underclassmen.
“The best part of this for us is to see the culmination with the joining of a great age-group program with our high school program,” longtime East Grand Rapids coach Butch Briggs said. “Our age-group program feeds us better than everybody else, and this is the year they all got to come together.”
It was East Grand Rapids' first team title since 2010, and on Saturday its depth played a vital role with several top finishes.
“This is pretty great,” Lundquist said. “We won my freshman year, and since then we've been trying to get back up to the state title. It's been a lot of hard work on our part, and we implemented a new lifting program. I'm so proud of our freshman class and the entire team because we've been very determined. Since day one we've set a goal to win a state championship.”
The Pioneers also won the 200 free relay with a Finals-record time of 1:36.05.
The relay team was powered by sophomore Emily Converse and freshmen Lexus VanHoven, Hanna Sanford and Gabby Higgins.
Briggs, who was tossed into the pool after the awards ceremony, said a positive sign came during Friday's preliminaries.
“It was the best prelims we've had at East since I've been here,” he said. “That put us in position today to be able to just go after some things and be comfortable. These kids have risen to the occasion all year, and our relays were amazing. It's a great group of kids, and I was just so pleased.”
Converse placed runner-up in the 200 free behind Holland Christian's Ashlee Sall, but redeemed herself with a win in the 500 free (5:02.57).
“I was a little scared after I lost to the girl in the 200 and I was top seed in that, but the girl next to me took it out fast and I thought I would be able to come back and beat her,” said Converse, who also was a key cog in the winning 400 free relay. “It felt really good, and we were excited to come back to Division 3 this year and win it.”
Hamilton junior Stephanie Johnston overcame two years of disappointment at the Finals to notch a pair of wins.
Johnston swam to victory in the 50 free with a time of 23.81 and edged Higgins by 0.07 seconds. She followed that with another close win over Higgins in the 100 free.
“In past years I would get nervous, and those nerves would get to me, but I wasn't nervous at all today,” Johnston said. “After (Friday's) prelims, I was a little iffy about whether I could do it, but I got here today and got super pumped up from everybody else and how they were doing. I went out and got what I was going for, and it felt really good because it also broke my personal records.”
Hamilton coach Eric Talsma said a lack of confidence prevented Johnston from performing her best at past Finals.
“We've been waiting for a breakout meet from her,” he said. “She swims fast regular season, but it's been a bit of a struggle at state meets. We really needed her to attack her races and not wait for something bad to happen. Friday she was a bit apprehensive, but today she just went after it and just attacked it.”
Johnston also anchored the Hawkeyes' runner-up finish in the 400 free relay.
PHOTOS: (Top) East Grand Rapids athletes pull coach Butch Briggs into the pool for the traditional celebratory dip after winning Saturday's Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final. (Middle) Swimmers keep pace during a race Saturday. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Performance of the Week: Marquette's Grace Sobczak
February 24, 2023
Grace Sobczak ♦ Marquette
Junior ♦ Swimming
Marquette’s girls swimming & diving team won its second straight and fourth Upper Peninsula Finals championship in five seasons Saturday, and Sobczak led the charge with championships in the 200-yard individual medley (23.42 seconds) and 500 freestyle (5:35.02) and as part of the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
The individual championships were the third and fourth Finals titles of Sobczak’s career – she won the 500 for the third time in three tries – and the pair of relay wins raised her Finals count to four total in those races as well. The championship capped an undefeated season for the team. While swimming always has been her primary sport, Sobczak played a variety growing up and runs cross country in the fall.
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Feb. 16: Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9: Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2: Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26: Shayna Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19: Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20: Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16: Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9: Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2: Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24: Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17: Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10: Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3: Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27: Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20: Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13: Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6: Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30: Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22: Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15: Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8: Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1: Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25: Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report
(Photos by Jonathan Young/Marquette High School.)