By Lauren Rigg
MARQUETTE, Michigan, February 17. VICTORY was in the air for Marquette High School on Saturday when the boys’ and girls’ teams triumphed in the MHSAA swimming and diving state championship with 331 and 335 points, respectively. The meet, held at Marquette County’s YMCA, drew attention to the dominance of Marquette after they won all relays, boys and girls, and their boys’ team won every individual event.
Girls: Marquette claimed the 200 medley relay title over Rudyard after Marquette held on to an early lead in the backstroke, posting a 2:02.43 to Rudyard’s 2:03.90. Houghton came in at 2:08.87 to claim third. Shortly after, Marquette’s Logan Vear, the butterflyer on the winning medley relay, battled teammate Janelle Carroll in the 200 freestyle, a race that ended with Vear touching first, 2:08.52 to 2:10.77. Hancock’s Hannah Heikkinen came in third at 2:17.17.
Logan would go on to place third in the 100 butterfly (1:08.59) behind the clear champion, Jeffers’ Olivia Rouleau (1:03.70), and second place Sophie Witting of Houghton (1:08.09). Rouleau also earned a dominant victory in the 200 IM when she cruised into a first place time of 2:20.28 over Marquette’s Lyndsey Welch (2:25.75) and Houghton’s Annika Wheeler at 2:37.20. Rouleau’s victory marked her fourth in the event having dominated every year since she was a freshman.
Houghton’s Lauren Jackson made her points contribution in the diving event where she won with 166.95 points and dethroned the reigning champ Mya Maanika of Westwood, who ended in second with 154.25. Marquette’s Piersan Kimmes (131.05) placed third, helping her team achieve what would ultimately be a victory.
Welch, who finished second in the IM, reemerged to sweep the 100 backstroke in a time of 1:06.06. She defeated her competitors, Rudyard’s Trista MacDowell (1:08.54) and Sault’s Gabbi Werner (1:09.70), in doing so. However, the 50 freestyle saw Rudyard’s freshman MacDowell at the head of the pack when she out-touched the competition and posted a 26.12. Werner (26.89) managed another third place finish as she and Allison Halpin (26.72) were hot on MacDowell’s heels vying for the next two spots.
Halpin returned to seize third in the 100 freestyle with a 1:01.10, finishing third behind runner-up Lani Belton of Marquette (1:00.29) and champ Amy Knapp of Rudyard (56.87). Knapp, who had a controlling lead, was a first time winner of the event. She became another first time winner of the 100 breaststroke after finding success with her time of 1:14.54. Witting earned another second place in the meet with her time of 1:17.49, leaving Marquette’s Lauren Rotundo to grab third with a 1:20.27.
Carroll, runner-up in the 200 freestyle, showed off her talent again in the 500 freestyle to win with a 5:53.00 over freshman teammate Lauren Clement (6:05.38). Hannah Gundlack from Houghton placed third after posting a 6:13.50.
In the end, Marquette defeated second and third place finishers Houghton and Rudyard, who attained a respective 277 and 191 points over the course of the meet. Marquette’s success in relays, including the final 400 freestyle relay, solidified their position at the top of the team standings.
Boys: Colin McCommons, a Marquette junior, claimed the first individual victory of the boys’ meet, overcoming Sault’s Nick Chevillot and Ishpeming-Negaunee’s Peter Leppanen in the 200 freestyle. McCommons ended with a 1:56.98, followed by Chevillot at 1:58.62 and Leppanen at 1:59.90. McCommons could later be seen fighting for third in the 100 butterfly when he battled teammate Sam Williams and Houghton’s Drew Meyer. Williams (56.03) prevailed in the end with an insurmountable lead over Meyer (58.69) and McCommons (1:02.67).
Williams and Meyer would see each other again in the 500 freestyle where Williams pulled away for another first place finish in a time of 5:10.67 to Meyer’s second place time of 5:21.12. Chevillot added a third to his state portfolio when he posted a 5:29.88.
Tony Lackey of Marquette scored a first place finish in the 50 freestyle with his 23.65. In what is the quickest event of the meet, he inched out Skylar Dakota of Westwood (24.85) and Drew Van Sumeren of Sault (25.43) for the win. Lackey made another showing in the 100 freestyle by swimming a 53.66 to overcome his freshman teammate Andrew Kilpela at 54.00. Sault’s Gage Konarnizki was less than a half second behind at 54.47, rounding out the top three finishers in what was the closest race of the meet.
Kilpela turned his silver into gold when he easily won the 100 backstroke after a strong first half. He posted a 1:00.24, becoming the only freshman boy to win an individual event and edging out second and third place finishers Ricky Peterson of Ishpeming-Negaunee (1:04.31) and Ben Luke of Marquette (1:06.61).
Diving was the only event that did not see a Marquette boy atop the podium and it was in fact a Sault Area High School sweep of the event as they took all three of the top positions. An impressive showing by Levi Furr landed him in first with 186.65, nudging his teammates Kyle Flickinger and Eric Finley into second and third, with 179.90 and 172.95 points, respectively.
Marquette’s Nathan Rotundo finished on top in the 200 IM coasting to an easy win at 2:07.82 over rivals David Plumley of Kingsford (2:20.68) and Casey Pepin of Sault (2:21.18). Rotundo became a double winner of the meet when he took gold again in the last individual event, the 100 breaststroke, posting a time of 1:03.08 and blowing away the competition. Rotundo came in with high hopes as the reigning champ in both events and his swims did not disappoint. His teammate, underclassmen Russ LaBeau, came in second with a 1:10.44 and Pepin claimed another third with a 1:10.59.
Marquette, Houghton and Sault Area all found themselves in the top three in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays to finish off the meet. However, it was Marquette who was on top in all of the relays which let to their overall reign over second’s Sault Area and third’s Kingsford, who ended with 306 and 181 points.