By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Holland West Ottawa long has had one of the most renowned high school boys swimming & diving programs in Michigan. But MHSAA Finals team championships had been elusive – the Panthers fell just shy again with a second-place finish in Lower Peninsula Division 1 in 2018.
How much difference can a few tenths of a second make? On March 9, 2019, enough to see West Ottawa win its first Finals championship since 1971.
Jamahl Hogan, Sam Smith, Derek Maas and Khadin Soto swam the relay in 3:05.84, besting Detroit Catholic Central’s time by six tenths of a second and giving West Ottawa a final eight-point edge in the team standings over the runner-up Shamrocks.
Said Soto, who anchored the relay: “I knew the meet was within a few points, and I knew we had to win that race. I knew I had to beat the guy next to me, and I knew he was really fast. Since I didn’t win the 100 breaststroke like I thought I would, I just kept telling myself that I can’t get caught up in everything else. I just need to do what my teammates need me to do. Just swim like we have been all year. For the last lap I was telling myself I can’t be the one that loses it for everyone.”
Click for Second Half’s coverage – 6 Hundredths Seal West Ottawa’s Title Win – and watch the race below with coverage from the NFHS Network.