Gremlin Girls Swim To U.P. Title
By John Vrancic
Special to Second Half
MARQUETTE — Many of the Houghton High School girls may be too young to remember when the Gremlins had last earned an Upper Peninsula swimming title.
The Gremlins, however, created their own memories on Saturday as they gained their first title in 12 years with 339 points. They were followed by 11-time defending champion Marquette 319 and Sault Ste. Marie 155.
“In all the recent history, not only did we have the depth,” Houghton coach Roger Woods said shortly after diving in the pool with his team moments after receiving the championship trophy. “We also had the top end talent. We just couldn’t win the relays. Last year, we got swept in the relays. This year, we won only one. But we were close in the others.”
Houghton senior Rebecca Jaczczak retained her 50-yard freestyle title in 25.62 seconds and copped her first 100 backstroke crown (1:07.14) at the Marquette High School pool.
“I’m real happy with that,” said Jaczczak, who hopes to major in exercise science, but is undecided on which college she wants to attend. “Coming in here as a defending champion in 50 freestyle was a great motivator. All the hard work and focus this season paid off. Also, our coach is phenomenal. He has a passion for everything we do. HIs positive thinking rubs off an all of us.”
Jaczazak also helped the Gremlins open with a victory in the 200 medley relay and place second in the 400 freestyle relay.
Sophomore Hannah Gundlach, also a part of the Gremlins’ 400 relay, added a first in 500 freestyle (5:40.21) and second in 200 freestyle (2:08.79).
“Hannah knows how to swim in a big meet,” said Woods. “It was the same thing in the 200. When I saw her take off out of the gates, I knew she was going to have a good day.”
Adding an individual first for Houghton was sophomore Sophie Witting in 100 butterfly (1:09.32), who also helped the winning 200 medley relay and second-place 200 freestyle unit.
Marquette’s leader was senior Katy Beckstrom, who won 100 breaststroke (1:12.37) and helped the winning 400 freestyle relay and runner-up 200 medley relay.
“Our senior girls had an amazing end to their season,” said Marquette coach Nate McFarren. “All of them had personal bests. Personally, I wanted everything for all our kids. I’m very proud of them, their parents, our assistant coaches, helpers and community.”
Marquette’s underclassmen showed plenty of promise in this meet. A prime example was the 500 freestyle where the Redettes took three of the top five places.
For example, sophomore Janelle Carroll was runner-up in the 500 freestyle (5:50.14) and helped the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Classmate Logan Vear also helped the two shorter relays and placed second in 200 individual medley (2:30.55) and third in 100 butterfly (1:11.11).
“We’re excited about the girls we have coming back,” said McFarren. “I think we have the potential to field a very strong team next year.”
Next year’s U.P. FInals will be held at Houghton.
“We’re looking forward to that,” said Hancock-Jeffers coach Joanne Rouleau. “That will be a nice, short trip. All we’ll have to do is go across the (Portage Canal lift) bridge.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Swimmers leap at the start of a race during Saturday's Finals at Marquette High School. (Middle) Champion Houghton poses on the trophy stand after clinching this season's title. (Photos courtesy of Keith Freeman of Freeman's Photography.)