Allison Haak had one simple goal when she lined up for the 200-yard freestyle at Saturday’s MHSAA Division 1 State Finals at the Holland Aquatic Center. All she wanted to do was her best – sounds simple, but not when you consider her “previous” best is pretty impressive.
When she touched the wall at the end of the 200 free, the stopwatch on the wall clocked the Skyline senior at 1:50.65 – a lifetime best for Haak. It also turned out to be the best time in the race, landing Haak in the top spot in the state in the 200 freestyle in a close race.
Pioneer sophomore Vivian VanRenterghem was a close second in 1:51.14
“At the last 50 of the race I could tell I was in the lead,” Haak said. “I just tried to give everything I had left at the end. For me, I was more interested in dropping time in the 200. When I saw that I had won I was very excited.
“Going into the meet, I had gotten a great time at our conference meet in the 200 free. My goal was just to improve from that time which I did by a little. The time I finished with at states was a lifetime best for me and I was very happy with it.”
Haak says Skyline Coach Maureen Murrett prepared her well for the big race.
“I wasn’t super nervous about my races,” she says. “Mojo (Murrett) always tells us to trust that our training will give us the results we want. I was sore going into finals, but I warmed up almost double what I normally do to try and get rid of any lactic acid.”
It must have worked because Haak delivered at the biggest time of the season. Great athletes do that – they take their performance to another level when it matters most.
Murrett, who has coached many state champions and many great performers, wasn’t surprised at all to see Haak touch the wall first on Saturday.
“Allie has really solid training habits and it shows in the heat of competition,” Murrett said. “Her turns kept her in the race among really strong competitors and she was able to have confidence in her race strategy.”
Murrett said she saw something in Haak’s eyes that day.
“She is incredibly tough mentally and that morning she was locked in and focused,” Murrett said. “I knew she had a plan and I just stayed out of her way. That girl never quits; she is tough and she has heart. I love to watch her swim. I am so happy for Allie because early on she made the decision to be there for our team. All season she has been the anchor — literally and figuratively — for our relays, for our team. And now and forevermore she will be a state champion.”
Going into the finals, Haak was seeded fifth in the 200 and second in the 500. And Skyline’s 200 free relay was fifth and the 400 free relay was ninth.
Haak touched second in the 500 free with a time of 4:59.49. Grand Ledge’s Lola Mull was first in 4:55.02. Skyline was sixth in the 200 free (1:37.66) and ninth in the 400 free (3:33.59).
“Our relays did very well,” Haak said. “Our 400 free was the most impressive. We ended up dropping over a second from our seed time going into the meet and dropping over two seconds from prelims.”
Allison, 17, the daughter of Iris and Steve Haak, started swimming for Club Wolverine when she was 10 years old. She plans on swimming next year at the next level.
“I am swimming for Michigan State University next year,” she says. “And I couldn’t be more excited about it.”