ROCHESTER – After Fenton senior Gracie Olsen won the Lower Peninsula Division 2 title in the 200-yard individual medley two years ago as a sophomore, she fell just short of repeating as a junior, finishing second in that event.
Needless to say, that added some motivation on top of the energy she already had competing at the Finals in the first place.
“This is the most exciting meet of the year, and that includes club swimming and everything,” said Olsen, who will swim in college for Indiana. “I think it has the most energy. This whole thing in general motivates me the most.”
Olsen reclaimed her title in the 200 IM with a time of 2:01.58, but she did more than that.
Olsen also won the 100 Butterfly in a time of 54.19, winning that event for the third time and finishing off her high school career with six individual Finals titles.
“I had no idea this would happen,” Olsen said. “I think everything that happened the last four years led up to this.”
Olsen wasn’t alone in winning two individual titles.
Portage Northern junior Hannah Williams won the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:50.28, then won the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:03.76.
“Coming in, I just wanted to swim my best,” Williams said. “I knew I would really be proud of myself if I left everything out in the pool.”
While Olsen and Williams were the individual standouts of the day, the best team was once again Birmingham Seaholm.
The Maples easily won their third-straight Finals title and fourth in the past six years, earning 314.5 points.
Grosse Pointe South was second with 241 points, while Grand Rapids Northview was third with 191 points.
Seaholm became the first team in Division 2 to win three straight titles since Holland did so from 2011-13.
Seaholm head coach Karl Hodgson said there actually was a different dynamic trying to win three in a row as opposed to two consecutive.
“It’s just more difficult,” Hodgson said. “It gets harder each time and is a relief. It feels great.”
As expected, Seaholm swept the three relay events.
While depth and team achievement have been at the forefront of Seaholm’s success the past three years, the Maples did have an individual that stood out more than most this fall.
Junior Samantha Clifford won the 100 freestyle in a time of 51.02 and was second in the 200 freestyle behind Williams.
Clifford also anchored winning teams for the Maples in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Portage Northern had another individual winner at the meet besides Williams. Angelina Baker set an LPD2 Finals record in the 500 freestyle, with a time of 4:54.97.
The 50 freestyle saw a rare tie for first, with Jenison sophomore Grace Albrecht and Ann Arbor Skyline senior Claire Kozma touching with identical times of 23.94.
Lily Witte of Dexter won diving with 503.55 points and also placed in the 50 freestyle, finishing 16th.
In the 100 backstroke, Skyline junior Lily Cleason won in a time of 55.77.
PHOTOS by High School Sports Scene.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.)