There is no debate that the best swimming and diving program in the state of Michigan is Ann Arbor Pioneer High School – boys or girls. After the girls’ won the Division 1 State Finals in dominating fashion back in January, the boys took center stage this weekend and were equally as impressive and dominant.
The Pioneers won four individual races at Hudsonville in the D-1 State Finals on Saturday and racked up an amazing 369 points to win the program’s 16th state championship. Holland West Ottawa was a very distant second with 233.5 points.
“I am super pleased, I think we just wanted to be consistent from the start to the finish of the season,” Pioneer Coach Stefanie Kerska said. “I thought they did such a great job doing that. Whether it was their preparation, execution, or just the way they’ve handled themselves, they’ve really been a dream.”
Kerska also coaches the girls’ program at Pioneer so it was her second championship in less than three months. And the dominance by the two teams is worth noting. The girls’ team finished with 368 points, 184 points better than runner-up Farmington Hills Mercy. The boys’ team finished with one more point, 369, and won by 135.5 points.
It all adds up to the pinnacle of high school swimming.
SEC rival Saline took third place with 230 points, Detroit Catholic Central was fourth (225), Northville fifth (209), Macomb Dakota sixth (112), Rochester seventh (98), Brighton eighth (97.5), Troy ninth (91) and Grand Haven 10th (76).
Huron scored 25 points to finish 22nd overall among the 35-team field.
The Pioneers started strong with an impressive showing in the opening medley relay. The team of Jack Wilkening, Matthew Segal, Robert Yang and Alex Farmer took second in 1 minute, 31.74 seconds. Saline won the race in a Hudsonville pool record time of 1:30.35.
Huron’s team of Eli Atkinson, Peter Fazekas, AJ Stewart and Alex Moskus took 15th in 1:38.71.
Pioneer won the first two individual races of the day to set the tone and put the pedal down early in this meet.
Matthew Segal has been a dominant swimmer for the Pioneers since he first jumped in the pool four years ago and his final swims would be among his best ever. The senior won the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:38.24 – his first of two victories on the day.
Pioneer junior Teodor Jaworski was fourth in 1:41.94 and senior Cameron Williston was fifth in 1:42.59 as the Pioneers took three of the top five spots. Harrison Sanders was 11th (1:43.73) and Alec Lipham was 12th (1:44.30) for the Pioneers. Huron’s Drew Lindstrom was 22nd in 1:46.93.
Junior Ryan Hume, who has had as good a year as any swimmer in the state, won the 200 IM with a blazing time of 1:50.37.
“I’ve been training for the whole year for this 200 IM,” Hume said. “I just had one mission, which was to win. I’m hoping to win again next year and hopefully break a varsity record.”
Pioneer senior Samuel Fonte was seventh (1:56.35) and junior Caleb Rice was 11th (1:57.29). Huron senior Eli Atkinson was 19th in 2:00.49.
In the 50 freestyle, Pioneer junior Jack Wilkening sprinted to a seventh-place finish with a time of 21.63 seconds. Farmer was 16th (21.95), Gabriel Burks was 19th (22.11) and Gabriel Labadie was 21st (22.20).
Pioneer also dominated the one-meter dive, as senior Cole Tremewan won by nearly 40 points, scoring 449.05 points.
“I’m so happy for our diving program and for Cole winning; it was such a big moment for him,” Kerska said. “I know he felt a lot of pressure and handled it so beautifully.”
Huron’s AJ Stewart made a big splash in the 100 butterfly. The senior finished sixth overall in 50.93 – the winning time was 50.40. Yang, a junior, had a strong showing for Pioneer with his eighth-place time of 51.22. Sophomore Justin Su was 24th (53.57) for Pioneer.
Pioneer landed two swimmers in the top 10 in the 100 freestyle. Farmer was eighth (47.39) and Yang was ninth (47.48). Labadie touched 15th (48.12) and Harrison Sanders was 25th (48.97).
Pioneer dominated the 500 freestyle with Hume taking second in 4:31.93 and Williston finishing third in 4:40.80 as both swimmers landed in the top five for the second time in the meet. Jaworski, a junior, also had a strong showing with his fifth-place time of 4:42.27 as the Pioneers piled up 47 points from just those three swimmers in one event. Lipham, just a sophomore, added to the points with his 10th place time of 4:46.12. Lindstrom was 11th for Huron in 4:46.26. And Pioneer freshman Jensen Wood touched 17th in 4:50.37.
Pioneer’s 200 free relay team of Wilkening, Farmer, Hume and Williston took third in 1:25.32. Huron’s team of Stewart, Atkinson, Moskus and Lindstrom took 16th in 1:30.78.
In the backstroke, Wilkening touched third with a time of 51.31. Rice was 11th (53.16) for the Pioneers.
Segal posted an All-Division/Class Finals record time of 53.26 to win the breaststroke for his second win of the day. .
“This team is amazing,” Segal said after the meet. “I’m really happy about all my other events, achieving state titles in individual events is really fun, but winning it as a team is a surging sense of pride. To accomplish something we know we’ve been working for, we’ve had it in our minds the whole season.”
Two other seniors finished top 15 with Gibbons 12th (59.01) and Fonte 13th (59.42) for the Pioneers. Senior Sung-Jae Lee was 18th (1:00.71) and Almeida was 22nd (1:01.58) for Pioneer.
The team of Yang, Hume, Williston and Segal took second in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:04.65. Saline took first in 3:03.84. Huron’s team of Atkinson, Fazekas, Lindstrom and Stewart took 22nd in 3:20.04.
Will Kennedy (Second Half) contributed to this report. Segal photo courtesy of Second Half.