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.
Lily Witte ♦ Dexter
Senior ♦ Swimming & Diving
The Dreadnaughts’ phenom capped her high school career with her fourth MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals championship, in the process obliterating the all-Finals record with a score of 554.65, more than 45 points higher than the previous mark. Witte had entered her final MHSAA meet having scored the second-highest score on the all-Finals list, 503.55, last year.
Witte won a junior national championship in 1-meter diving during the summer and has represented Team USA in multiple international competitions – and will be doing so this weekend in junior world championship competition in Montreal. In something of a rarity for elite divers, Witte also swam on two relays for Dexter at Saturday’s Finals, helping her team to a 10th-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay and 13th place in the 200 medley. She has signed to continue diving at Indiana University and intends to study computer science.
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(Top photo by High School Sports Scene.)