One of the most successful swimmers in Upper Peninsula high school history will have the opportunity Saturday to lead her team to a historic finish as well.
Sault Ste. Marie senior Aliah Robertson will bring five individual and two relay championships into this weekend’s MHSAA Finals at Marquette High School with the Blue Devils strong contenders to claim their first team title.
Here’s a glance at team and individual favorites:
Reigning champion: Marquette
Reigning runner-up: Sault Ste. Marie
Marquette has won the last two championships after finishing runner-up in 2017 and 2018, and the Redettes claimed last year’s title by 77 points. Sault Ste. Marie’s second place in 2020 was its highest finish since 2005. The Blue Devils enter with the top seeds in all three relays and five individual races, plus the reigning champion diver.
Joanne Arbic, Sault Ste. Marie junior – The two-time reigning champion in both the 50 and 100-yard freestyles is seeded first in both (25.87 and 57.16, respectively). She also was part of two relay champs in 2020.
Anna Hildebrand, Sault Ste. Marie junior – She also was on those two relay champions with Arbic and was second in the 200 free and third in the 500 last season. She’s the top seed in the 200 by more than three seconds with a 2:09.50 and the second seed to Arbic in the 100 (57.60). She set the meet record in the 50 last season.
Delaney Marchiol, Marquette junior – The reigning 500 champion also has been part of relay winners each of the last two seasons. She is seeded second in the butterfly (1:06.74) and third in the breaststroke (1:17.62) this weekend.
Adelaide McRoberts, Kingsford freshman – She enters her first Finals with the top seeds in the butterfly (1:00.06) and backstroke (1:00.96).
Aliah Robertson, Sault Ste. Marie senior – She is seeded first in the breaststroke (1:07.39) by 10 seconds and the individual medley (2:12.88) by nearly 14. She holds in the meet records in both of those events and the breaststroke.
Grace Sobczak, Marquette freshman – She also enters her first Finals with a chance to make a quick impact, seeded second in the IM (2:26.56) and first in the 500 (5:38.80).
Sault Ste. Marie 200 medley relay – Robertson, Arbic, Hildebrand and sophomore Julie Innerebner have a seed time five seconds faster than the field at 1:56.24 after the same group won in a U.P. Finals-record 1:54.26 last season.
Sault Ste. Marie 200 freestyle relay – Robinson, Arbic, Hildebrand and Innerebner also are the reigning champs in this relay, hoping to cut last season’s meet-record time of 1:42 and entering this weekend with a seed time of 1:45.26.
Brianna Jones, Sault Ste. Marie sophomore – The reigning diving champion won last season with a 174.95.
Avery Mariuzza, Ishepming Westwood senior – She finished second to Jones last season scoring a 173.80, and also fourth as a sophomore and third as a freshman.
PHOTO: Sault Ste. Marie’s Aliah Robertson swims the winning 100-yard butterfly during the 2019 Upper Peninsula Finals. (Click for more from Jarvinen Photos.)
Kaylee Draper ♦ Sturgis
Junior ♦ Swimming
Draper joined teammates Kenzy Triezenberg, Ainsley Gump and Emma Garbine to swim the 200-yard medley relay in 1:55.53 on Sept. 7 against Hastings, breaking a school record from 1997. Draper also won the 50 freestyle with a Finals cut time of 25.47 seconds as Sturgis won the dual 92-69. Two days later, she swam on the winning 200 medley again and the 200 freestyle relay and was second in the 50 butterfly as the Trojans won the Mason Sprint Invitational.
She helped Sturgis finish 28th at last season’s Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals, placing eighth in the 100 backstroke and 14th in the 50 freestyle and swimming on the 15th-place 200 freestyle relay. She also runs cross country during the fall and is a pole vaulter and thrower on the track & field team.
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Past 2023-24 Honorees
(PHOTOS courtesy of the Sturgis Journal.)