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Posted on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:30 a.m.

Saline phenom swimmers all grown up and closing in on fourth-straight state title

By Kyle Austin


Saline's Josh Ehrman will look to defend his 100 breastroke state title Saturday.

Courtney Sacco |

At some point Saturday afternoon, Saline swim coach Todd Brunty hopes the members of his senior class take a step back and savor the moment.

Because if all goes according to plan, the group could be accomplishing something that’s rarely been done in state history.

Saline will go for its fourth consecutive Division 1 state championship Saturday at Holland High School. And for the seniors at the heart of that run, David Boland, Josh Ehrman and Adam Whitener, Saturday will be a swan song.

“We just want to finish it with enjoying it,” Brunty said. “We’ve gone with that attitude every year, and it’s paid off for us, and hopefully we’ll continue to do that this year.”

If the Hornets can pull off the four-peat, they will become one of only three teams in the last 35 years to accomplish the feat in the highest division. Birmingham Brother Rice won six straight from 1994-99 and Pioneer won six straight from 1977-82.

“Only two other teams have ever done it, and I think that’d be very cool to be in that company, to be able to do that,” Ehrman said.


David Boland will swim the 200 individual medley, where he is a defending state champion, and the 100 backstroke.

Courtney Sacco |

On top of a team state title, Boland, Ehrman and Whitener will look to add to what are already impressive individual legacies on the state level. Last year, the Hornets took titles in seven of 11 swimming events. The trio won five individual state titles and contributed to two relay titles.

Their names also litter the state record book: Ehrman won the 100-meter breaststroke, setting an all-class state record. He also set a state record in the 200 individual medley preliminaries. Boland also holds 100 butterfly record.

The Hornets also set state records last year in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay, which is an all-class record.

The only thing that kept them from six individual state titles last year was the fact that Boland and Ehrman both swam the 200 IM, with Boland winning by a half second and Ehrman finishing runner-up.

This year, though, Boland will enter the 100 backstroke instead of the 200 IM, giving the trio the possibility of two state titles apiece.

“Hopefully we get another race in there and gain a couple of more points the best we can, instead of having those guys compete against each other,” Brunty said.


Adam Whitener will be defending his 100 and 200 freestyle state titles.

Courtney Sacco |

Brunty said the three came out of middle school swimming in 2009 with high expectations. But four straight state titles is not something that can be planned on.

To the athletes themselves, this wasn’t on the radar.

“Freshman year, we had goals to win the state title, but it didn’t really occur to us that it was actually possible,” Boland said.

Their goals were more modest: be the best team in the county.

“It was a big deal to beat Pioneer for us,” Whitener said. “It was a huge deal.”

Four years later, Saturday will mark the last time the three will wear the same color caps. The three considered some of the same colleges and took recruiting visits together. But when it came time to make a decision, all three committed to different schools in the fall: Boland will go to Louisville, Ehrman will go to Purdue and Whitener will go to Virginia.

But before that, they’ve got one last historic feat to accomplish.

“This can’t ever be repeated, I don’t think much in high school swimming, at least not around here, the success and the time they’ve had together,” Brunty said.

MHSAA Swimming and diving state championships

Division 1 at Holland
Area Teams: Huron, Saline.
Breakdown: Saline cruised to its state title last year, winning by nearly 100 points. But it lost a pair of key contributors from that team in James Fisher, who was runner-up to Boland in the 100 butterfly, and Tom Walls, who was a key relay member.

“A lot of people kind of want to chalk it up, but that doesn’t happen,” Brunty said. “This is going to be a real close meet, it’s going to be a well-fought meet by a lot of different people and a lot of teams.”

The Hornets, though, could have up to six individual state titles, and their relays figure to be strong contenders.

Division 2 at Oakland University
Area Teams: Dexter, Pioneer and Skyline
Breakdown: Pioneer may be moving down from Division 1 to Division 2 this year, but the competition isn’t getting much easier. The Pioneers are still No. 3 in the latest rankings, behind Birmingham Seaholm and Holland.

“There’s no doubt that Seaholm’s depth is impressive and Holland has got some real top swimmers,” Pioneer coach Dennis Hill said last month. “So between the three of us I think it should be a pretty good meet.”

Senior Chris Klein leads the Pioneers’ individual state title chances, with top seeds in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke (where he said he has his eye on the all-class record Ehrman set last year.)

Skyline should have a strong showing in the 500 freestyle, with Matt Orringer as the second seed and Dennis Dahlman as the fourth seed. Dexter’s Jonathan Zofchak also has a chance to place highly in the 200 freestyle.

Pioneer diver Tyler Leach put up a 461.30 in diving regionals and should contend for a state title as well.

Division 3 at Eastern Michigan
Area Teams: Chelsea and Milan.
Breakdown: A pair of area teams will go just down the road to Eastern Michigan, and could come away with some individual state titles.

David Alday of Chelsea is the top seed in the 200 IM and the second seed in the 100 freestyle. The Bulldogs could also have two of the top finishes in the 100 backstroke in Sam Almhiemid and Nick Deppner. All three Chelsea relays are also seed in the top three.

For Milan, Ollie Smith is a contender to win the 50 freestyle, clocking in with the second seed.

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.



Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Kyle, while I appreciate that the race cards had not been filed yet, you could have done more investigation and talked to the Huron coach. It's STATES, that is a big meet. Those River Rats have been swimming in the shadow of the Saline kids for four years, and deserve some notice. (BTW, how many of those Saline swimmers actually live in Saline...and would they have been noticed if they swam at Lincoln instead?). No, I don't have a swimmer, I'm just for balanced reporting.

Fat Bill

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:30 a.m.

Salbolal, Saline only started accepting schools of choice students in the last few years, and the vast majority of openings were in the early elementary schools, so it will be a while before those kids hit high school level athletics. Just for the record.

Kyle Austin

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

My pleasure, Kris. I'll be out in Holland too on Saturday so we'll have more coverage.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

I'm just happy to see an article about a local high school sport that is not basketball or football. Thanks Kyle.

Kyle Austin

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

Salbolal, we're not able to call every area swim coach beforehand, so we focus on one storyline and include information on other teams in brief form. As a commenter above points out, Huron will have 10 swimmers competing in the Division 1 meet

Concerned Parent

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

I wouldn't read into this too much. There are numerous strong programs from other parts of the state that could challenge local programs in all three divisions. Some local teams have talent that could win races but it takes some depth to win a championship.

Kyle Austin

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

I agree that Saline lost some key swimmers and might not have as much depth as past years. I can usually find online where somebody scores out the psych sheets, to give some sort of indication of how close it might be, but I haven't been able to find that this year.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Why is Pioneer Division 2? Isn't it based on the size of the building?

Kyle Austin

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

It's based on enrollment. Basically, they take all the programs that offer swimming, ranked them based on enrollment, and the top third are D1, the middle third are D2 and the bottom third are D3. Pioneer must be right near the D1/D2 line, because it's enrollment is only a little less than Huron's.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

Anyone swimming from Huron - no mention of individuals or the program..

Kyle Austin

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

This story had to be filed before the MHSAA released the psych sheets for the Division 1 meet, where Huron will be. Looks like the River Rats have a good diving contender in Will Brenner, and several other participants.

Concerned Parent

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Huron will have ten athletes competing. Their highest seed is in the 400 Free relay where they could have a strong showing.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

Go Hornets - best of luck at your upcoming state swim meet. Congratulations to all the young fellows and coaches. Make it be good.