Saline poised to repeat as Division 1 swimming state champions
It was a foregone conclusion that the undefeated Saline High School boys swim team would win their final regular season meet, the Southeastern Conference Red Division championships.
“We weren’t going to beat Saline, but we were hoping to give them a little scare And we didn’t even do that,” said Pioneer coach Denny Hill, whose team had previously won the league championship meet every year since joining the SEC in 2000. Saline won by 154 points.
Hill and Pioneer aren’t alone. Giving Saline a scare has proven improbable state-wide all season long.
Every meet for coaches association’s No. 1-ranked Hornets appears to be just another dominating day in the pool, and just another pit stop on their road to defending the program’s first Division 1 state crown.
The MHSAA Division 1 championships take place Friday and Saturday at Oakland University in Rochester.
“They are stepping stones for states,” Saline’s David Boland said of regular season swims. The sophomore is the reigning D1 champ in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley. He holds the top times in the state in those events this season.
Boland will have plenty of company making that step to state this weekend. Fifteen of the 16 Saline swimmers that scored in last year’s finals are a part of the Hornets’ title-defending squad.
Despite that fact, Saline coach Todd Brunty is making sure his swimmers and divers are well prepared.
“We need to work. We still have work to do, and definitely can get better,” said Brunty. “We’ve been enjoying our hard work that we’ve been putting in all year.
“We just have to focus on those key race strategies for states, come out and make sure we do our best Friday.”
What: Division 1 MHSAA Finals. Where: Oakland University, Rochester. When: Friday and Saturday. Local teams: Saline, Huron, Pioneer. Outlook: No. 1-ranked Saline is primed to defend its state title this winter, and like last year its biggest threat will be area rival Pioneer (No. 2), runner up a year ago. The Pioneers would need their best days to make a run at the Hornets, who all but won the title after preliminaries last season. “Hopefully we finish in the top two,” said Pioneer’s Seiji Osawa, who enters states with the No. 2 time in the 200 free (:47.93) - behind Adam Whitener of Saline (:47.08) - along with sixth-best times in the 200 freestyle (1:44.24) and 500 freestyle (4:44.49). Meanwhile, No. 8 Huron will be led by Pierce Theisen, who is the No. 2 and 3 seed in the 50 freestyle (:21.72) and 100 freestyle (:47.97), respectively. In diving, the River Rats will tout a pair of top-10 divers in Nate Argetsinger (No. 10) and Jeff Camalo (No. 5). Pioneer senior Nick Nemetz sits at No. 3, and will be seeking to reclaim the title he won as a sophomore. Other teams in the running for a top-three team finish include Rockford, Zeeland and Forest Hills Northern.
What: Division 2 MHSAA Finals. Where: Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti. When: Friday and Saturday. Local teams: Skyline, Dexter. Outlook: Dexter is in a familiar spot: Fresh off of an SEC White title - its 13th straight - and one of the top five teams in D2 as it heads into states. The No. 3-ranked Dreadnaughts will be looking to better their sixth-place finish from a year ago. Standing in their way will be Birmingham powerhouses Seaholm and Groves, ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively. Dexter’s Stephen Sobczak, last year’s AnnArbor.com Swimmer of the Year, has a top qualifying time in the 100 backstroke (:52.34), No. 3 in the 100 freestyle (:47.00) and No. 6 in the 200 freestyle (1:45.97). Unranked Skyline’s only multiple-event qualifier is Max Cornblath, who will compete in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. The Eagles don’t have enough depth to make a splash in the team standings, but improved from six state qualifiers a year ago to eight this weekend.
What: Division 3 MHSAA Finals. Where: Holland Aquatics Centre, Holland. When: Friday and Saturday. Local teams: Milan, Chelsea. Outlook: Milan’s Dylan Shearer will be the busiest Big Red at states and has a choice to make as he has five individual qualifying times and will likely help the Big Reds defend their 200 medley relay title, as well. Swimmers can only participate in four events. Shearer has an individual title in the 100 breaststroke to defend and he currently holds the second best time in the state. If Milan can surround Shearer with steady production, the Big Reds should live up to their No. 5 ranking. Chelsea’s strength is in diving, where Colby Wrathall -- who won an SEC White title -- is ranked sixth (224.95). The Bulldogs’ only other qualifier is David Alady (500 free, 200 IM). The frontrunners for the Division 3 team crown are defending champ East Grand Rapids, Hamilton and Holland Christian.