MARQUETTE — It was a great Saturday to be a Marquette swimmer as the Redmen swimming and diving team earned its first Upper Peninsula title in four years with 331 points at its home pool.
The Redmen were followed by defending champ Sault Ste. Marie with 306 points and Kingsford with 181.
Marquette topped the standings in all 11 swimming events after Sault Ste. Marie grabbed the top three spots in Friday’s diving competition.
“We knew Sault Ste. Marie would be real good in diving,” Marquette coach Nate McFerrin said. “This is a pretty awesome moment. We wanted all the kids (boys and girls) on the podium (for post-meet photos) because as an adult you don’t get many moments like this.”
A trio of Marquette swimmers had a hand in four firsts, including senior Tony Lackey, junior Nate Rotundo and sophomore Sam Williams.
Lackey won the 50-yard freestyle race in 23.65 seconds, 100 freestyle (53.66) and helped the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays to victories
Rotundo, helping the 200 and 400 freestyle relays to firsts, also won the 100 backstroke (1:03.00) and 200 individual medley (2:07.82).
“They (Sault) got far ahead of us in diving, but we have some real good swimmers,” Rotundo said. “I’m pretty proud of this team. We really wanted this meet because we hadn’t won it since 2010. Our medley relay was just .3 second off the school record (1:44.74), which is pretty impressive. The school record is our goal for next year. We came in here knowing we had to do our best."
Williams captured 100 butterfly (56.03) and 500 freestyle (5:10.67) and helped the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays as well.
“I had been training real hard, but tapered off this week,” said Williams, who swam personal bests in both of his individual races. “We were behind (Sault) going into the 500 freestyle. Also, I wasn’t the top seed in butterfly, which really motivated me. I really wanted to come through for our team.”
Freshman Ben Luke also helped the 200 freestyle relay to victory, which gave the Redmen their first lead (236-233), and Luke also placed third in 100 backstroke (1:06.61) and fourth in 200 IM (2:26.18).
“I’ve been swimming for eight years and this is the best meet I’ve had in my life,” Luke said. “I’m happy with all my races and my teammates’ races. I really wanted to swim today and dropped four seconds from my previous best (in the 200 IM).
“In my opinion, the breaststroke is the most challenging because it takes a lot of technique and skill. But Nate (Rotundo) has mastered that.”
Sault junior Levi Furr topped the standings in diving with 186.65 points, followed by junior Kyle Flickinger (179.9) and sophomore Eric Finley (172.95).
“Diving has been one of our strongest events all year,” Sault coach Denise Mayer said. “That fired our kids coming into today’s swimming events.
“Marquette has very strong swimmers. Nate (coach McFerrin) and his staff should be very proud of them. I’m proud of all our kids, too. There wasn’t a kid on this team that didn’t swim a personal best.”
Not only was McFerrin proud of what the Redmen accomplish, he was impressed with Williams’ performance in the 500.
“Sam dropped 10 seconds in the 500, which is nearly unheard off for a swimmer of his caliber,” said McFerrin, who completed his third year as head coach. “I’m finally getting the feeling this team is becoming ours. I’ve come a long way in learning how to prepare a team for this meet. We’ve been there, done that. We can do it again.”
Also winning individual races for Marquette were junior Collin McCommons in 200 freestyle (1:56.98) and freshman Andrew Kilpela in 100 backstroke (1:00.24).
PHOTOS w: (Top) Marquette sophomore Sam Williams finishes off a 100-yard butterfly championship Saturday at the UP Swimming and Diving Finals. (Middle) Teammate Tony Lackey celebrates his 100 freestyle championship. (Photos courtesy of Jarvinen Photos.)