HOLLAND — The East Grand Rapids boys swimming & diving team was devastated when last year’s MHSAA Finals were canceled.
The Pioneers were poised to win and immediately set out on a mission to claim the Lower Peninsula Division 3 title this season.
East Grand Rapids won Saturday’s meet with 308 points despite not winning any swimming events.
Of course, diving was another story.
EGR started strong on Friday, going 1-2 in diving with Charley Bayer winning with 490 points, just ahead of teammate Billy Kirchgessner (472.90). Chelsea’s Mitch Brown was third (450.05).
“Everything started flowing together, and it all worked out in the meet for us,” Bayer said. “That is our biggest advantage. Having a teammate that good can push you, and we pushed each other. It is a blessing to be part of a program like this. This team win is the most important in a long time because we wanted a big win last year and it didn’t happen. This was a redemption win.”
The Pioneers earned their record 26th Finals win with their depth and relays.
In the 200-yard freestyle relay, East Grand Rapids finished second in 1:26.89 with Will Laham, Max Jung, Kenny Pontius and Logan McCahill posting the runner-up finish.
“Last year was traumatic. We had a lot of kids work so hard and we had a good chance to win it. This year, just getting to get to the meet was a plus, but to win it without taking any swimming firsts spoke well for the group,” EGR coach Butch Briggs said. “Diving got us 37 points, and you can’t do much better than that. It just got everyone pumped up.”
Holland Christian finished second with 218.5 points. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood was third (194), Spring Lake was fourth (196) and Mason was fifth (162).
Holland Christian senior Colin Kalkman won the title in the 100 freestyle, finishing in 45.72. He used a strong finish to pull ahead of runner-up Jacob Ryan (45.92) of Detroit Country Day. Trenton’s Spencer Boling-Hamer was third (47.24).
Kalkman then won the 100 backstroke in 50.96, holding off Pinckney’s Tyler Ray (51.09) and East Grand Rapids’ McCahill (51.45).
The Maroons also won the 400 freestyle relay with Joey Grasman, Christian Hoeksema, Blake Assink and Kalkman touching first in 3:09.58. Spring Lake (3:09.73) was second, followed by Mason (3:10.67).
“That was fantastic to win the final relay. They did what they had to do,” Holland Christian coach Todd Smeenge said. “I am happy for all the seniors, and Colin had a great meet. I am so happy for him. It was satisfying to see that work pay off. We scored about what we thought, but East Grand Rapids ate up all kinds of points.”
The fastest race of the meet was the 100 breaststroke, where the top three finishers bettered the previous Division 3 record. Milan’s Andrew Dobrzanski won the event in 54.67, followed by Cranbrook Kingswood’s Ethan Schwab (55.46) and Otsego’s Owen Stedner (55.85).
Dobrzanski also won the 200 IM in 1:50.07, a dominating performance that beat the field by nearly four seconds. Grand Rapids Christian’s Jacob Haaksma was second (1:53..94), followed by McCahill (1:55.17).
Dobrzanski was named Swimmer of the Meet .
“It means a lot. I was shocked when I saw my name up there,” Dobrzanski said. “The breaststroke was amazing with all of the competition.”
Cranbrook Kingswood won the 200 medley relay in 1:34.97 with Colin Zexter, Ethan Schwab, Josh Zexter and Andrew Zhang. Spring Lake was second (1:35.51), followed by East Grand Rapids (1:37.63).
Trenton’s Spencer Boling-Hamer won the 200 freestyle in 1:42.21, ahead of Grasman (1:42.40) and Mason’s Jonas Cantrell (1:42.49).
Detroit Country Day’s Ryan dropped nearly half a second from his seed time to win the 50 freestyle in 20.58, holding off Spring Lake’s Charles Brown (20.71) and Mason’s Gabe Williams (21.68) in an extremely fast race.
Pinckney’s Ray was the winner in the 100 butterfly, going 49.23 to hold off Spring Lake’s Brown (49.80) and Mason’s Liam Boomer (50.48).
Cantrell won the 500 freestyle in 4:27.58, ahead of Cranbrook Kingswood’s Schwab (4:35.14) and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Griffin Gushman (4:41.64).
Mason’s Williams, Tommy Hebert, Boomer and Cantrell won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:26.52, ahead of East Grand Rapids (1:26.89) and Grand Rapids Christian (1:27.13).
PHOTOS: (Top) East Grand Rapids celebrates its team championship Saturday at Holland Aquatic Center. (Middle) Milan’s Andrew Dobrzanski won the breaststroke and 200 IM. (Below) Cranbrook’s Andrew Zhang looks up at the clock after a race. (Click for photos by Dan D’Addona.)