HOLLAND – Bloomfield Hills Marian and Holland Christian were in a fight to the finish at the Saturday’s Lower Peninsula Division 3 Swimming & Diving Finals.
Marian used a late surge to hold off the home-pool Maroons and win the championship with 245 points.
Holland Christian was second with 230.5, followed by Milan (208), while Adrian (154.5), Grand Rapids Christian (148.5), Wayland (130), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (128.5), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (90), Detroit Country Day (87) and Dundee (82) rounded out the top 10.
"When it came down to it, I knew we needed a lead going into the 400 free relay. Milan and Holland Christian perform so well every year," Marian coach Dave Eichenhorn said. "We knew it would be a major task. The girls bought in. There was nothing but faith and trust. I am not surprised by the performance, but I am surprised at how great it was."
The meet started with Bloomfield Hills Marian winning the 200 medley relay. Lily Low, Rachel Bello, Marianna Becharas and Axelle Ballarin won the event in 1:48.67. Holland Christian was second (1:49.63) and Wayland was third (1:49.94).
Bello won the 100 breaststroke as well to help clinch the title, overcoming the points deficit on paper heading into the Finals. Marian entered the meet ranked No. 3 behind Holland Christian and Milan.
"It is the overall energy of the team. It is so positive and encouraging," Bello said. "The energy never stopped. It means so much to us. We haven't won since 2014, and it was such a close meet. I couldn't ask for a better state meet."
The Maroons were close and led a couple of times late before Marian's stellar final three events. The runner-up finish was Holland Christian's highest since 1997.
"We talked about being content with whatever we walked away with. Today, this is what we had and they just happened to have some really talented girls who swam really well this weekend," Holland Christian coach Lisa Myrick said. "They had more than we had today.”
Here is a look at how the events unfolded:
The 200 freestyle was won by Milan's Annabelle Williams (1:54.09), finishing ahead of Detroit Country Day's Ella Dziobak (1:54.45) and Trenton's Sophia Shaul (1:54.51).
Bello claimed the 200 IM in 2:06.08, ahead of Flat Rock's Lauren McNamara (2:07.21) and Standish's Scarlet Maison (2:08.30).
Wayland's Laney Wolf won the 50 freestyle in 23.89, ahead of Adrian's Ella Salenbien (24.39) and Ogemaw Heights' Kiera Danitz.
Grosse Ile's Kaitlyn Molnar won diving (360.05), ahead of Haslett's Ali Viaches (340.00) and Hamilton's Anevay Hager (336.5).
In the 100 butterfly, Flat Rock's McNamara won in 55.26, ahead of Notre Dame Prep's Emma Ciesla (58.29) and South Haven's Abby Wettlaufer (59.46).
Wolf doubled up after winning the 50 free and claimed the 100 free in 51.93. St. John's Ella Schafer was second (52.24), followed by Milan's Annabelle Williams (52.46).
Dziobak won the 500 freestyle in 5:04.23, followed by Shaul (5:04.30) and Milan's Phoebe Rhoney (5:18.18).
Marian's Low, Ballarin, Lena McKenney and Bello won the 200 freestyle relay (1:38.72) ahead of Holland Christian (1:39.55) and Milan (1:39.77).
Cranbrook Kingswood's Julijana Jelic won the 100 backstroke in 57.35, ahead of Ionia's Madeline McGee (59.19) and Dundee's Joslyn Ball (59.49).
Bello won the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.44, ahead of Mason (1:06.91) and Schaefer (1:07.24).
Adrian's Francesca Scarabottolo, Eleanora Andre, Emily Hess and Ella Salenbien won the 400 free relay (3:37.18). Milan was second (3:37.83), and Marian was third (3:41.85).
PHOTOS by High School Sports Scene.
WEST BLOOMFIELD — When she started high school swimming last fall, West Bloomfield sophomore Elizabeth Eichbrecht didn’t know what expectations to have, given she knew full well the high level of competition there was throughout the state.
Well, after two seasons, it’s safe to say Eichbrecht has blown any expectations she had out of the water, pun intended.
At the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals on Nov. 17-18 at Eastern Michigan University, Eichbrecht won her third and fourth individual championships.
She won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:48.08, more than three seconds ahead of the next finisher. The winning time qualified for All-America recognition and bested her first-place time from the 2022 Finals by 0.34 seconds.
Later on, Eichbrecht won the 500 freestyle in a time of 4:47.66, more than 11 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Her All-American time in that event was more than five seconds better than her winning time in 2022.
Two years, four Finals titles. Not too shabby.
“Yes it’s surprising, because there are so many fast girls and we are all very competitive,” Eichbrecht said.
Eichbrecht already holds six school records – in all four freestyle events, the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly.
She also owns Oakland Activities Association records in the 200 and 500 freestyles and the 100 butterfly.
“I like the distance events more, mainly because I don’t have to all-out sprint,” Eichbrecht said.
West Bloomfield head coach Ronson Webster said the big reason why Eichbrecht was even better this year as a sophomore after making such an impact as a freshman wasn’t necessarily because she was bigger and stronger, although those were contributing factors.
Mainly, her success this year was the validation that she belonged after such a great freshman season.
“She gained more confidence this year going into her races,” he said. “She focused on racing her race and not who was next to her. Meeting the time we worked for was the goal. Winning is a bonus.”
While Eichbrecht excels at so many events, her specialty has been the 200 and 500 freestyles, which is stating the obvious given the Finals titles she has won in those events.
“Her training is very specific as it is for every swimmer on our team,” Webster said. “Everyone is trained differently. Her technique is very important and specific to her event and body size. Since she is shorter, she can’t swim the same as a tall person. Having the right technique designed for the swimmer and the correct race plan goes a long way.”
Eichbrecht next will focus on her club season for Supernova Swim Team based out of Farmington Hills, and she already is looking forward to competing at the Winter Junior Nationals in Columbus from Dec. 6-9.
By the time her career is over, it’s safe to say Eichbrecht might be the best all-time from a West Bloomfield school that’s not known as much for swimming as other Oakland County powers such as Farmington Hills Mercy or the Birmingham schools. But Eichbrecht is relishing putting her school on the swimming map with all her success so far.
“I love swimming at WB,” she said. “My teammates are amazing, and they work super hard. I’m super proud of all the work they put in this season, and I can’t wait for next season.”
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTOS (Top) West Bloomfield’s Elizabeth Eichbrecht swims the winning 200-yard freestyle Nov. 18 at Eastern Michigan University. (Middle) Eichbrecht talks with runner-up Yan Yee Adler from Ann Arbor Pioneer after also winning the 500 freestyle. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)