'Powerhouse' Gladstone Girls Take Back Title

February 17, 2018

By Ryan Stieg
Special for Second Half

MARQUETTE – It takes a team effort to win an Upper Peninsula swimming & diving title, and that was definitely true for the Gladstone girls team Saturday.

The Braves were facing some stiff competition from Marquette and reigning champion Houghton. But Gladstone got a record-breaking time from its 200-yard medley relay and a win in the 200 freestyle relay to push it over the top.

The Braves finished with 303 points, well ahead of the Redettes (273) and Gremlins (237).

“I’m really proud of the girls,” Gladstone coach Tom Desy said. “The girls swam very well today. The 200 medley relay set a U.P. (Finals) record by over two seconds, so that was a great start for us. That was pretty awesome, then the 200 free relay, we missed (a U.P. Finals record) by a tenth of a second. So it was just a great day.”

Desy also led the Braves to a championship in 2016, but said this one meant more because he didn’t anticipate it happening.

“This one is better because this one was kind of unexpected,” he said. “They swam great, so this was a good surprise.”

The Redettes did everything they could to win. Marquette took first in six of the 12 events including the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“I think they did amazing,” Marquette coach Nathan McFarren said. “It was heartbreaking to have one of our top swimmers out with the flu. We can’t be upset with it either because wherever I needed them, they performed.

“They also had a great taper and some amazing swims. Gladstone is a powerhouse this year, and Tom did a great job with that crew. Their first relay breaking the record was incredible. I’m proud of U.P. swimming in that sense because without that competition, without those things happening, my swimmers don’t get better either.”

Mollie Kilpela won both the 50 and 100 freestyles for Marquette, while Erin Vanderschaaf took home titles in the 500 free and 200 individual medley. Lexi LaCombe was the last Redettes champion, as she finished first in the 100 backstroke.

Houghton won only one event with Samantha Olson finishing first in the 200 free, but Gremlins coach Erik Johnson liked what he saw from his team.

“I thought the girls did really well,” he said. “They had a lot of great swims and everybody, for the most part, dropped their times. That’s all you can really ask for. Gladstone was loaded this year, and Tom does a great job with his team. Marquette also had a good team. I’m really happy that they were able to finish third this year.”

Kingsford finished fourth overall with 121 points, and Sault Ste. Marie took fifth at 100. The Blue Devils’ Aliah Robertson won the 100 butterfly (59.27) and 100 breaststroke (1:06.31) and set U.P. Finals records in both events.

“Our freshman, Ali, really stepped up today with two U.P. records,” Sault Ste. Marie coach Steve Habusta said. “That doesn’t happen often. For her to beat two of the oldest records on the board by almost two seconds is just unheard of.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette and Gladstone swimmers launch during a race at Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Finals. (Middle) Sault Ste. Marie’s Aliah Robertson completes her record swim in the 100 breaststroke. (Photos by Daryl Jarvinen/Jarvinen Photos.)

Sobczak goes 4-for-4 Again to Lead Marquette to 3rd-Straight Finals Title

By Jason Juno
Special for MHSAA.com

February 17, 2024

MARQUETTE – Thanks to the informative meet announcer, the Upper Peninsula Swimming & Diving Finals crowd gets to learn a little bit about each participant – from basic facts like who their parents are to why they like the upcoming race.

In the sprints, that can generate some predictable answers, like the many athletes who pointed out they like that event because it’s one of the shorter races. 

Before the grueling 500-yard freestyle event, Marquette senior Grace Sobczak and freshman Olive Krueger brought a little levity and originality, both saying it was because they get to beat the other one.

That, however, is easier said than done for anybody.

Sobczak finished her high school career Saturday a perfect 4-for-4 in the event, and she also repeated as the 200-yard individual medley champion and was part of winning 200 and 400 free relay teams at Marquette Senior High School.

Krueger had a great day as well, pushing Sobczak more than anyone else. She was runner-up in a close finish to Sobczak in the 500 while winning the 100 freestyle and helping the 400 free relay to a win.

“They trained right next to each other,” Marquette coach Nathan McFarren said, “and fed off each other. Just incredible to watch. They one-upped each other and pushed each other up until the race every day.”

Kaytlin Roell swims the 100 breaststroke for Marquette.They led Marquette to its third-straight U.P. championship as they and their teammates dominated the nine-team field with 386.5 points; runner-up Gladstone had 258. Ishpeming Westwood took third with Kingsford fourth, Houghton fifth, Sault Ste. Marie sixth, Ishpeming/Negaunee seventh, Rudyard eighth and Manistique ninth.

Sobczak said her dad wasn’t a big fan of the pre-race joke, but she said everyone laughed. And in the end, the duo put on a great 500 race with Krueger coming on strong late.

“I had to push myself in that race a lot,” Sobczak said. 

That’s her favorite event; she’s a distance swimmer and that’s the only true distance event. Winning that one Saturday and making it a perfect 4-for-4 meant a lot to her.

“It’s amazing, crazy,” Sobczak said. “I got up there, and I started crying because it’s so surreal.”

She was even more reflective at the end of the day.

“I’ve been swimming since I was 6 years old. This was my last race at this pool,” Sobczak said. “We’re three in a row, it’s pretty crazy. Last year I got four (U.P. titles), this year I got four, it’s pretty cool.”

Gladstone's Mary Hooks swims to the win in the breaststroke.Her coach said she’s quiet but a great leader. She “stepped it up this year with taking charge as a senior,” McFarren said.

And she has a teammate she can pass the baton to in Krueger. While Krueger finished less than two seconds after Sobczak, the next swimmer was more than 30 seconds behind Krueger.

“I knew it’d be close because we always race together, but I’m glad she won,” Krueger said.

Freshman Kaytlin Roell finished first in the 50 free as Marquette won its 28th U.P. Finals team title and fifth over the last six years. 

Gladstone senior Adrianna Getzloff had a big day, finishing first in the 200 free and the 100 backstroke. She also helped the Braves to a first-place finish in the 200 medley relay.

Two of her teammates also had first-place finishes – sophomore Irene Neumeier won the 100 butterfly and junior Mary Hook took the 100 breaststroke. They were also on the 200 relay team along with Ava Getzloff.

Westwood sophomore Maggie Harvala won the diving competition with a score of 214.90.

McFarren made it a combined 17 Finals championships as coach for boys and girls for Marquette, tying Marquette’s Matt Williams for the meet record.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Marquette's Grace Sobczak swims to a victory in the 500-yard freestyle Saturday. (Middle) Kaytlin Roell swims the 100 breaststroke for Marquette. (Below) Gladstone's Mary Hooks swims to the win in the breaststroke. (Click for more from Jarvinen Photos.)