By Chip Mundy
Special for Second Half
YPSILANTI – The 1-2 punch of Grand Rapids Catholic Central swimmers Riley Kishman and Susan LaGrand overwhelmed the field Saturday afternoon at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 girls swimming and diving championships at Eastern Michigan University.
They had plenty of help, too, as Grand Rapids Catholic Central won its first MHSAA team championship In girls swimming and diving with 299 points to far outdistance runner-up St. Clair (199) and third-place Holland Christian (197).
Kishman, a junior who was named the Division 3 Swimmer of the Year by the coaches association, won two individual events and swam on two championship relays. LaGrand, a sophomore, also won two individual events in addition to contributing to a championship relay and another relay that placed second.
“It feels really good,” said Kishman, who won the 100 breaststroke and the 200 freestyle. “We’ve been wanting this for a while, and I’m glad it finally happened.
“Coach told us if we were going in thinking that we have it, we won’t have it, so we went in like we were in second place. We knew we had a target on our backs, so we tried to just keep going.”
Kishman, a two-time Finals champion in the 200 individual medley, passed on the event in favor of the 200 freestyle, which she won in 1 minute, 51.01 seconds.
“I have been doing more freestyle lately, and I like the 200 free better,” she said. “I thought we would have a better chance at getting more points if I did that, and I’m glad I did it.”
Kishman did successfully defend her title in the 200 breaststroke in 1:03.20.
“I had my best time in that since my freshman year, so I was really happy about that,” said Kishman, who also swam on the winning 200 freestyle relay and the winning 400 freestyle relay.
LaGrand had one of the more exciting victories of the day when she came from behind to win the 100 butterfly over St. Clair senior Grace Shinske. It was the second consecutive MHSAA title in the butterfly for LaGrand, who set a meet record with a time of 56.85 seconds.
“It’s always better when you have somebody to race,” she said. “It was really great. I could not have gone the time I did without her pushing me.”
LaGrand’s other individual title came in the 200 IM, which she finished in 2:06.97, better than Kishman’s winning time from a year ago.
“It really feels good,” she said after the win. “I have an awesome team behind me that pushes me every day in practice, so that really helps.”
The 200 IM was just two events after the meet-opening 200 medley relay, which had LaGrand and Grand Rapids Catholic Central finishing second to St. Clair. It was a quick turnaround for LaGrand.
“It was a little stressful, but with good time management it’s all right,” she said. “You know what you are going into when you sign up.”
As impressive as Kishman and LaGrand were, Grand Rapids Catholic Central was far from a two-girl show. Six other girls scored points, including senior Liz Rabaut and sophomores Nicole Rotelle and Elise Merucci. All three scored four times, including on one championship relay.
Lauren Lomonoco, another senior, was on two championship relays and placed in another individual event.
“It’s amazing to see how far our team has come since our freshman year,” she said. “We were just trying to get in the top 10 in the state that year, so it’s really rewarding and overwhelming.
“It’s just a great way to end my career.”
Sophomores Emily Merucci and Hannah DeBoer also scored twice in individual events for Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Kishman and LaGrand were the only defending champions to repeat in their events, and two others failed to repeat as champions. In 1-meter diving, Allegan senior Erin Isola edged reigning champion Taylor Hosein of Milan 454.40 to 435.90. Isola had a lead of less than seven points coming into Saturday but put it away with three solid dives that totaled 139.50 points.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet … it’s like a dream come true,” she said after winning. “I’m really excited.”
She said her second dive – an inward 1½ somersault – was the key dive for her.
“Normally I don’t nail it as well as I did, and it got me a bunch of points to stay ahead of Taylor,” she said. “Taylor is a great diver, and it really could have been either one of us who won. It was really close.”
The other displaced champion was Rileigh Eding of Hamilton, who was edged by Shinske in the 100 backstroke. Shinske, who led LaGrand before finishing second in the exciting 100 butterfly, defeated Eding in the same fashion. Eding had a lead after 50 yards, but Shinske, in the final individual race of her high school career, surged back in the last 50 yards to pass her and win in 56.27.
“It was pretty exciting,” Shinske said. “At one point, I was thinking I was going to finish in second place, and then I realized that I could do it and I just went for it. It feels great.”
Shinske also teamed with Molly Likins, Heidi Likins and Alexis Smith to win the meet-opening 200 medley relay in 1:47.54.
Eding, who failed to repeat in the 100 backstroke, captured the 50 freestyle in 24.04 seconds. Other freestyle winners were Karlee Marsh of Tecumseh in the 100 freestyle (51.80) and sophomore Evelyn VanDeMark of Alma in the 500 freestyle (5:11.43).
Marsh, a junior, had finished third and fifth in two individual events last year.
“I’m really emotional, but it’s a great feeling,” she said. “It definitely helps that I was a second faster coming in, and it made me more confident. I think everybody did really good.”
But the best of those were the girls from Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
“It was a team goal to establish a championship feeling, and we accomplished that,” Grand Rapids Catholic Central coach Mio Vasic said. “I want to congratulate the girls on how they were able to balance their personal lives, school, academics and swimming. I’m very proud of them.”
PHOTO: (Top) Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Susan LaGrand swims her winning 200 individual medley Saturday. (Middle) St. Clair’s Grace Shinske works toward her butterfly championship. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
The addition of two games to basketball regular-season schedules and a new series of wrestling weight classes are likely the most noticeable Winter 2022-23 changes as an estimated 65,000 athletes statewide take part in 13 sports for which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors postseason tournaments.
Girls gymnastics and boys ice hockey teams were able to begin practice Oct. 31, with the rest of those sports beginning in November – including also girls and boys basketball, girls and boys bowling, girls competitive cheer, girls and boys skiing, Upper Peninsula girls and boys and Lower Peninsula boys swimming & diving, and girls and boys wrestling.
A variety of changes are in effect for winter sports this season, including a several that will be noteworthy and noticeable to teams and spectators alike.
Basketball remains the most-participated winter sport for MHSAA member schools with 33,000 athletes taking part last season, and for the first time, basketball teams may play up to 22 regular-season games. This increase from the previous 20-game schedule allows more games for teams at every high school level – varsity, junior varsity and freshman.
Another significant change has been made in wrestling, as the majority of boys wrestling weight classes have been adjusted for this season in anticipation of a national change coming in 2023-24. The updated boys weight classes are 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 144, 150, 157, 165, 175, 190, 215 and 285 pounds. Only 215 and 285 remain from the previous lineup. There is also one change to girls weight classes, with the 255 class replaced by 235 to also align with national high school standards.
A series of notable changes will affect how competition takes place at the MHSAA Tournament levels. In hockey, in addition to a new classification process that spread cooperative and single-school programs evenly throughout the three playoff divisions, the MHSAA Tournament will employ two changes. The Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) will be used to seed the entire Regional round, not just the top two teams, and prior to the start of Semifinals, a seeding committee will reseed the remaining four teams in each division with the top seed in each then facing the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed facing No. 3.
Bowling also will see an MHSAA Tournament change, as the Team Regional format will mirror the long-standing Team Final with teams playing eight Baker games and two regular games at both levels. And as also applied during the fall girls season, there is a new qualification process for divers seeking to advance to Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals. In each of the three divisions, each Regional will be guaranteed 10 qualifiers for the Finals, with six more “floating” qualifier entries to be distributed to the Regionals that have one of the previous year’s top six returning Finals divers in their fields. If a team changes division from the previous season, any floating top-six spots are added to the six already allowed in the school’s new division.
A gymnastics rules change provides an opportunity for additional scoring during the floor exercise. A dance passage requirement was added in place of the former dance series requirement to encourage creativity and a more artistic use of dance. The dance passage requires gymnasts to include two Group 1 elements – one a leap with legs in cross or side split position, the other a superior element.
In competitive cheer, the penalty for going over the time limit in each round was adjusted to one penalty point for every second over the time limit, not to exceed 15 points. The new time limit rule is more lenient than the past penalty, which subtracted points based on ranges of time over the limit.
The 2022-23 Winter campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Swimming & Diving Finals on Feb. 18 and wraps up with the Boys Basketball Finals on March 25. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:
Districts – March 6, 8, 10
Regionals – March 13, 15
Quarterfinals – March 21
Semifinals – March 23-24
Finals – March 25
Districts – Feb. 27, March 1, 3
Regionals – March 7, 9
Quarterfinals – March 14
Semifinals – March 16-17
Finals – March 18
Regionals – Feb. 24-25
Finals – March 3-4
District – Feb. 17-18
Regionals – Feb. 25
Finals – March 2-3
Regionals – March 4
Finals – March 10-11
Regionals – Feb. 20-March 1
Quarterfinals – March 4
Semifinals – March 9-10
Finals – March 11
Regionals – Feb. 13-17
Finals – Feb. 27
Swimming & Diving
Upper Peninsula Girls/Boys Finals – Feb. 18
Lower Peninsula Boys Diving Regionals – March 2
Lower Peninsula Boys Finals – March 10-11
Wrestling – Team
Districts – Feb. 8-9
Regionals – Feb. 15
Finals – Feb. 24-25
Wrestling – Individual
Districts – Feb. 11
Regionals – Feb. 18
Finals – March 3-4
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.