Performance: Harrison's Ashley Turak

November 23, 2017

Ashley Turak
Farmington Hills Harrison junior – Swimming

Turak led the Farmington/Harrison co-op swimming & diving team to a third-place finish at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals, winning two individual events and helping two championship relays to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.” Her 50-yard freestyle time of 22.38 seconds set a meet record, and both of her individual event times qualified for All-America honors from the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association.

A top-four finisher in both the 50 and 100 freestyles as a sophomore, Turak entered Friday’s prelims seeded second in both races. Her winning 50 time was 77 hundredths of a second faster than her lowest entering the weekend – an almost unheard of drop in time for the shortest race – and she cut an also-impressive 73 hundredths of a second off her top 100 time entering the meet by winning that title in 49.79. Both finishes broke her previous school records in those events. She also swam the first leg on the 200 freestyle relay that won in 1:34.67, and the anchor on the 400 freestyle relay that won in 3:26.35. Both relays also qualified for All-America status, and both entered the Finals seeded third.

Turak will be part of the final senior class at Harrison, which is set to close at the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year. It’s becoming a bittersweet good-bye – she’s excited to be able to honor the school as one of its final graduates, but of course sad to see it close. She will continue to represent though as she goes on to college swimming – she’s sifting through options with more sure to come – and she’s considering studying something in the biology or medical fields. Turak carries a 3.7 grade-point average as part of Harrison’s rigorous International Baccalaureate program.

Coach Kyle Kinyon said:Her coaches and teammates are so proud of her for achieving a goal she set out to accomplish at the beginning of this season. She obviously is talented, but her success is rooted in her preparation in practice. Ashley is constantly looking for feedback about her technique and training. She routinely pushes herself to be better, as well as encouraging her teammates to do the same. Turak leads the team by her example in and out of the pool. She does the little things right, including proper nutrition and dry land training in addition to her sprint training. It is for this reason she was named a captain of the team as a junior this year.” 

Performance Point: “I think the hard work really paid off, because for the whole season my coach kept telling me the end goal is the state meet,” Turak said. “Going into the state meet, I definitely wanted to make a statement, work with my team to get us as high of a placement as we could. I guess my biggest takeaway is you’re going to keep getting better. But with that, you’ve got to keep working hard to get there. … The first day I wouldn’t call it the best day, but I still (cut) time which was good. I guess the second day I was just really fired up going in. I didn’t feel as nervous for the meet and I just wanted to do what I could for my team, because being seeded first (after prelims) in two of my events going in, it was just really pumping me up.”

Making her move: “A year ago, I didn’t even think I would be in this position. I was racing (Brighton) senior Taylor Seaman, and I looked up to her and saw her as a role model. I never would’ve expected to come near her times and even break her state record in the 50 free.”

Farmington pride: “Farmington’s swim program has always been something that has been growing and developing, and we’re getting more and more great swimmers every year. And all of the swimmers are growing individually and as a team. So it’s obviously great to see (this year’s LPD1 champion) Mercy achieve all these things, because they’re the best swim school in the state for girls. When the (Mercy) girls were actually on the podium for first place, my team was chanting “representing Farmington swim program.” It’s pretty cool to come from the same place and have two top teams finishing there. And it’s great for my team because we’re newly developed – we’ve only been a team for two years. So going from last year placing 13th to third place, that was really awesome.”

Last of the Hawks: “It’s obviously really sad because we’re seeing the student body (enrollment) is dropping. But it’s really cool to be able to represent Harrison in its final years and be in the last graduating class. My friends and I were actually at a Harrison football game a few weeks ago, and it’s really cool talking to the alumni. They were sharing their experiences about how they went here in the ‘80s and how we’re going to be the last class to represent, and that resemblance of pride in the school. It’s really sad that I’m not going to be able to go to games in the future as an alumni, but I like being able to be the class that represents the closing of it.”

Serving notice: “Swim has always been very underappreciated here, especially the girls team because our boys … have been winning a lot of league titles, which is really cool to watch and awesome to see them do that. The girls kinda being underdogs this year, and coming in winning second in the county of Oakland and third in the state of Michigan for D1, I think it’s cool that we’re making a statement now. I think people are starting to notice, because on Monday swim actually made the announcements before football, which never happens. And I’ve been getting a lot of congratulations in the hallway, and I’ve been noticed by my principal, so it’s really cool that our swim team is actually being noticed.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2017-18 honorees:
November 16: Bryce Veasley, West Bloomfield football - Read 
November 9: Jose Penaloza, Holland soccer - Read
November 2: Karenna Duffey, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North cross country - Read
October 26: Anika Dy, Traverse City Central golf - Read
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Farmington/Harrison's Ashley Turak receives her championship medal for winning the 50 freestyle at Saturday's Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals. (Middle) Turak, third from bottom, prepares to launch for the start of the 200 freestyle relay. (Click for more from

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

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.