Sault Claims 1st Title with Record-Setting Performances

By Ryan Stieg
Special for Second Half

March 13, 2021

MARQUETTE – To get its first Upper Peninsula Finals championship, the Sault Ste. Marie girls swimming & diving team needed to be at its best Saturday afternoon. 

In the end, the Blue Devils also set a few U.P. records while outlasting Marquette 347-313 to claim the title and end the Redettes’ two-year winning streak.

“It’s history,” Blue Devils head coach Steve Habusta said. “We’ve never done it. It’s history for these kids to be able to be part of it and say that they’ve done it. It’s a special day, a special feeling and this is all about the kids. They did a fantastic job today, really put in the work all season.”

The Blue Devils ended up setting four meet records, as senior Aliah Robertson broke her own marks in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. Robertson was also part of the record-setting 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. Joanne Arbic was also on both and won two more events, the 50 and 100 freestyles. 

Kingsford swimmingEven though they ended up coming up short in their quest for a third-straight title, the Redettes still had a successful day. They won the 200 free relay and took three individual events with Lexi LaCombe winning the 200 free, Grace Sobczak finishing first in the 500 free and Haddie Ketzenberger coming out on top in the 1-meter diving competition on Friday. 

“They showed up too; they were amazing,” Marquette head coach Nathan McFarren said. “Lexi was seeded second and ended up winning the 200 free. She had a personal best in her 100, her 50 free split. We had Grace, pretty special as a freshman to runner-up (200 IM) and win her individual in the 500 and the relay. And then our diving. That started us out with a 1, 3, and 8 finish. That was pretty special too. We can’t hang our heads. We just didn’t have the depth this year.”

Kingsford’s Adelaide McRoberts was the other individual champion as she set a meet record in the 100 butterfly and also won the 100 backstroke.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Sault Ste. Marie's Joanne Arbic celebrates her win in the 50 freestyle Saturday at Marquette High School. (Middle) Kingsford's Adelaide McRoberts, middle, launches at the start of the backstroke final. (Photos by Daryl Jarvinen.)

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.