Standout Performances, Strength in Numbers Add Up to Marquette Girls Repeat

By John Vrancic
Special for

February 18, 2023

MARQUETTE — Numbers lined up in favor of the Marquette girls swimming & diving team here Saturday as they retained their Upper Peninsula Finals title with 393 points.

Gladstone, with just nine on its roster, edged Kingsford 156-153 for the runner-up honor.

“Unfortunately, swimming numbers are down across the state,” said Marquette coach Nate McFarren. “We’ve been fortunate enough to maintain strong numbers, and winning every relay separated us from the pack. I think it’s important for all U.P. teams to have more numbers. I thought Gladstone did real well. I think Tom (Desy, the Braves’ coach) does a great job down there.”

Marquette junior Grace Sobczak collected four firsts, winning the 200-yard individual medley in two minutes, 23.42 seconds and 500 freestyle (5:35.02) and helping the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.

A Houghton athlete swims the backstroke. Freshman Paige Davis, who was also a part of those relays, added a first in 100 butterfly (1:04.52) and second in 50 freestyle (26.04).

“I couldn’t have done it without my coach and teammates,” Davis said moments after receiving her butterfly award. “Our coach does a real good job training us, and he’s so supportive. We sometimes do agility drills and sometimes dryland training. The relays are fun, and the training has helped.”

Freshman Logan McFarren took the 200 freestyle (2:10.49), helped both freestyle relays and was runner-up in the 500 freestyle (6:02.02).

Senior Maddie Wood, also part of the 200 freestyle relay, took third in the 500 freestyle (6:17.75) and fourth in the 200 IM (2:39.97).

“It feels really great to take the U.P. title,” said Wood, who has been swimming for 12 years. “Our team works super hard, and everything paid off. I got my best times all year in the individual races. I’m thankful for the support from my teammates and coaches and happy my grandparents were here to watch. We do 20-30 50s at least once a week ,and it definitely helps my endurance.”

Gladstone’s Ava Getzloff was a double winner, taking the 50 freestyle (25.83) and 100 backstroke (1:02.07), both in personal bests, and helping the Braves place second in the 200 medley and freestyle relays.

“My starts went pretty well,” said Getzloff, who’s a junior at Escanaba and swims for Gladstone through a co-op venture. “I’m very happy with my times. I also swim for the (Northern Lights) YMCA team and made the state tournament which will be held in March. Everything really went great for our team today.”

Classmate Mary Hook was runner-up in the 100 breaststroke (1:16.54) and 200 IM (2:31.27).

“Timing is everything in breaststroke,” she said. “I feel that’s the most important part. It’s like a special feeling having everyone cheering for you. Their chanting helps you keep your timing.”

A diver competes Friday. Junior Reese Herioux anchored the Braves’ 200 freestyle relay and took third in the 200 freestyle (2:18.53) and fourth in the 500 freestyle (6:21.27).

“I was really happy with our team,” she said. “Marquette is always real good. Our team is real good. Some people do dryland training, but most of my training is in the pool.

“The U.P. Finals are always fun. You get to see a lot of your friends. They have the best stands here for spectators, which makes the Finals real exciting.”

Desy said he was happy with the team’s performance.

“Ava had an outstanding meet, and Mary did a great job today,” he added. “For a small team like ours to take second is pretty awesome. Marquette just has so many more kids than everybody. The girls did an awesome job.”

Kingsford junior Nahi Cristobalena won the breaststroke (1:12.45) and Ishpeming Westwood sophomore Faith Spiroff won Friday’s diving competition with 235.55 points.

Click for full results.

(PHOTOS by Randy Ritari – Click to see more.)

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

By Jason Juno
Special for

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.)