On paper it looked close. In the pool it was closer than that. And in between Ann Arbor was very well represented at the MHSAA Division 1 State Finals at the Holland Aquatic Center on Saturday – a day that featured great performances, a few local state champions and A LOT of emotion.
Pioneer and Farmington Hills Mercy were the clear favorites for the team title and neither team disappointed. And it came down to the last stroke, the last tick of the clock and the last point. Mercy finished with 298 points to Pioneer’s 297.5 – yes, a half point – to finish first overall.
Saline was a distant third with 197.5 points. Rockford (179.5) was fourth, Novi (132.5) was fifth and Rochester Adams (132) sixth.
Skyline finished with 89 points to finish 11th in the 37-team field. Huron had a great day as well as the River Rats took home 50 points to grab 15th place.
Top-ranked Pioneer was seeking its first team championship since a string of nine in a row ended in 2008. The Pioneers defeated Mercy earlier in the year in a dual-meet – which is a much different setting than a state finals.
“Going into (Saturday) we decided we were going to take it one race at a time, and we were going to try and do everything we could,” Pioneer coach Stephanie Kerska said. “We were going to control our controllables, and we did that really well.”
Mercy won its third straight title.
“Pioneer swam fantastic today, and if it would’ve been a tie for both of us that would’ve been great because honestly, they deserve it as much as we do,” Mercy coach Mike Venos told MHSAA Second Half.
The Pioneers started strong. The foursome of Quoia Sam, Holly Pringle, Amelia Weyhing and Autumn Bullinger took second in 1:44.27 in the medley relay. Rockford won in 1:42.40. One thing to note for the Pioneers – they had three sophomores and a junior on the relay.
Speaking of youth, Huron had a strong showing in the medley relay. The team of Emily Tran, Annaliese Streeter, Anna Leone and Zannah Baker went 1:50.83 to finish 13th overall.
Ann Arbor grabbed its first state championship in the 200 freestyle as Skyline’s Allison Haak touched first for the Eagles. The senior clocked in with a winning time of 1:50.65 with Pioneer sophomore Vivian VanRenterghem in a close second in 1:51.14.
In the IM, Pioneer sophomore Lily Cramer took third in 2:04.17. Streeter, only a junior, took eighth in 2:08.53 for the River Rats. Pioneer’s Holly Pringle was ninth (2:06.92) and teammate Edwina Jalet was 15th (2:09.22).
Pioneer freshman Lucy Mehraban was a close second in the 50 free with a time of 23.08. The winning time was 22.80. Skyline sophomore Claire Kozma was 14th (24.50) and Pioneer sophomore Amelia Weyhing was 15th (24.57).
Huron’s Annie Costello came into the state finals top seeded in diving and the junior lived up to the seeding. She finished with 425.40 points to finish first ahead of Ciara McCliment of Mercy (403.75).
In the butterfly, Pioneer sophomore Lindsay Orringer-Hau was ninth in 57.20.
Mehraban – yeah, the freshman – had another great showing in the 100 free. She went 50.86 to take second and just missed finishing first. The winning time was 50.53. VanRenterghem was ninth in 52.39.
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. Orringer-Hau was fourth in the 500 free with a time of 5:01.03. Skyline’s Gina Sadler was 15th (5:11.56).
Pioneer took first place in the 200 free relay as the very young team of Cramer, Bullinger, Weyhing and Mehraban touched in 1:34.75. That foursome featured a freshman and three sophomores. Skyline’s foursome of Kozma, Haak, Madison Deininger and Lily Cleason took sixth in 1:37.66.
Sam was second in the backstroke for the Pioneers. The junior touched in 55.54. The winning time was 54.70. Pringle, a sophomore, was fifth for the Pioneers in 56.26. Bullinger was 10th in 57.03.
Pioneer went five-six in the breaststroke with Jalet (1:04.26) and Cramer (1:04.29). Huron’s Annaliese Streeter broke a school record with her time of 1:04.71 to finish eighth. Weyhing was 10th for Pioneer in 1:05.82.
The Pioneers finished off the meet with a victory in the 400 free relay. The team of Mehraban, VanRenterghem, Pringle and Cramer went 3:25.31 to win it.
Skyline’s team of Kozma, Deininger, Cleason and Haak went 3:33.59 to finish ninth.