By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The 1987 and 1988 Lower Peninsula Class A Finals were two of the most closely-contested in MHSAA Girls Swimming & Diving history. And after falling just short in 1987, Birmingham Groves edged the rest to win its first championship in the sport in 1988.
Groves scored 150 points in 1987 at Michigan State University's McCaffree Pool, just seven fewer than champion Ann Arbor Pioneer. But although individual butterfly champion Janet Caraher graduated the following spring, Groves took that last step up the podium at MSU the next fall with 117 points – six more than runner-up Birmingham Seaholm, 12 more than Midland Dow and 32 more than distant fourth-place Pioneer.
Groves was paced by a pair of champions: senior sprinter Laura Fischer won both the 50 and 100-yard freestyles after finishing second and fifth in those races, respectively, in 1987. Senior Becky Callam also improved from second in 1987 to first in diving after also winning the event at the 1986 Final. The team's swimmers were coached by Darin Abbasse and its divers by Dave Eddy.
The Falcons went on to win four straight Division 2 titles from 2003-06 under coach Chris Tennyson, and remain a power, finishing fourth in Division 2 last fall.
Click to read all of the names that go with the photo above.
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.)