Birmingham Groves Defeats Detroit Jesuit, Crowned MHSAA Boys Division 2 Champions

by Hannah Close 4

March 29th, 2023 High School, News

MHSAA Boys Division 2 Championships

Birmingham Groves rose to the occasion this year, taking home the MHSAA Boys Division 2 title for the first time since 2010. MHSAA D2, one of the four high school divisions in Michigan, is made up of over thirty mid-sized schools. The D2 meet took place in Holland, MI on March 10-11.

A tight race between Groves and Detroit Jesuit, this year’s final score differential was only 7 points. It was certainly a battle of depth; after counting up all of the points from those teams’ top-3 finishes, Detroit Jesuit and Groves had only 1 point of difference. 

Groves’ win counted on key move-up swims within the 4th-16th places, such as junior Joey Stebbins’ 49.97 in the 100 back, almost a 1.5 second drop, to move from 6th seed to 4th overall in the 100 back. A freshman, Nathan Stebbins, garnered himself an extra 10 points with a massive 8 second drop in the 500 free, moving from 14th seed to 6th place overall with a 4:45.95. 

The meet began in Groves’ favor with their 4×50 yard medley relay upset, moving from 4th place seed to 1st, outtouching Detroit Jesuit’s relay by less than two tenths of a second. That relay team included their highest scoring athlete, Angus MacDonald on the breaststroke leg with a 25.16, the fastest split in the field.

The next event was the 200 free, Groves’ second win over Detroit Jesuit of the meet. Groves’ Ian Duncan narrowly won the event with a 1:40.01 to Detroit Jesuit’s sophomore Evan Tack’s 1:40.14.

A senior for Groves, Duncan only placed 3rd in this event last year with a time more than 2.5 seconds slower than this year. He shared in an interview with what it meant to him to win an event for his team,“In this sport more than anything, you have early mornings and late nights and you think about all the things that can get you through those hard practices when you really don’t want to do it. Keeping your dreams alive, that one day you might get in the pool and win it all for your team and the school that you represented for four years. It’s really something that keeps you going through the hard times. It’s immeasurable.”

Tack took 3rd later in the meet in the 100 free with a 46.34 and split nearly a second faster with a 45.33 on Detroit Jesuit’s champion 4×100 free relay. Joining Tack for close to a 4.5 second drop from their relay seed time was Kiernan Tague, Andy Szachta, and Jordan Bouchillon

Tack and Tague teamed up again with teammates Evan Hurtado and Patrick Mackillop to take gold in the 4×50 free relay. Groves’ Asa Allen had the fastest split in the field with a 20.93, but it wasn’t enough for the almost half a second lead that Detroit Jesuit had going into Tack’s anchor leg. Tack had the second fastest 50 split with a 21.04 and Tague had the fastest lead-off split with a 21.44.

We didn’t see a 4×50 relay split from the crowned 50 free champion, Austin Briggs, though, as Byron Center’s A relay DQ’ed in the prelims session of the meet. It was a dog fight for Briggs in that individual swim with a 1.3 margin between 1st and 4th place. His time of 21.05 out touched Tague’s 21.10, taking away 3 crucial points from Detroit Jesuit.

A senior from Grosse Pointe South, Keiran Rahmaan picked up a single win in the 100 fly with a 49.02, taking it out in a swift 22.75. His second individual of the meet was his 2nd place finish in the 100 back to the meet’s stand-out swimmer Max Haney of Fenton High School.

Another swimmer from Grosse Pointe South was the 100 free champion, Troy Liu. The junior dropped from a 47.09 entry time and 4th place seed to a 1st place time of 46.17. This was another tight heat with the runner-up and Northview junior, Caleb Howe, in second at a 46.27. Tack, Tague and Allen were not far behind with just six tenths between the top-5 finishers.

The reigning 500 free champion, senior Sean Diffenderfer for Walled Lake Northern, took gold once again with a time of 4:34.70. 

MacDonald and teammate senior Chase Richardson finished out the individual events with the 100 breast. Picking up 32 combined points for Groves and giving their team a solid enough lead going into the 4×100 free relay. 

MacDonald won the 100 breast with a 55.90; he also took silver in the 200 IM earlier in the meet with a time of 1:50.18.

Max Haney Takes Home High-Point Award

Though his team only ranked 14th place this year, the star of the meet was Fenton High School’s Max Haney, the only athlete crowned in two events. Haney was one of only two scoring swimmers from Fenton High and their relays did not progress to finals.

That didn’t stop Haney from finishing his senior year on a high note, with two individual golds in the 100 back and 200 IM. He was also the only swimmer to come close to a D2 record, his 100 back time of 48.92 was only three hundredths shy of the record set by Dexter HS stand-out Rob Zofchak back in 2016.

Haney’s 200 IM time of 1:48.44 was a 5-second improvement from last year, an event he only placed 5th in.

Team Places and Scores

Last year’s champion team, Skyline, moved down to 6th place this year. Last year, Skyline graduated Evan McKelvey, who garnered two individual golds in 2022 and was a member of both gold medal relays. With the loss of McKelvey and several other top-scoring seniors, Skyline struggled to crack top-5 this year.

Detroit Jesuit was runner-up once again, having scored one extra point this year. 

Third place went to Birmingham Seaholm, likely for its top-5 finishes in each relay and profuse depth, with 11 total top-16 swims with more than half of those in the top-8.

2023 Top-8 Team Scores

  1. Birmingham Groves – 274
  2. Detroit Jesuit – 267
  3. Birmingham Seaholm – 210
  4. Grosse Pointe South – 207
  5. Northview (Grand Rapids) – 183
  6. Skyline – 141
  7. Farmington – 110
  8. Jenison – 106

2022 Top-8 Team Scores

  1. Skyline – 291
  2. Detroit Jesuit – 266
  3. Grosse Pointe South – 238
  4. Birmingham Groves – 204
  5. Birmingham Seaholm – 150
  6. Jenison – 119
  7. Bryon Center – 99
  8. Portage Central – 91

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Jessica Haney
1 month ago

FYI, Fenton High School brought 6 athletes to the state meet, including 4 relay only swimmers. The relays (200 & 400 Free relays) did not progress to finals. Thanks for the article! It was a fun swim meet, and we were proud of all 6 boys!

Demarrit Steenbergen
Reply to  Jessica Haney
1 month ago

Your son swam quite well and you should be very proud, particularly because of his sportsmanship and kindness

Last edited 1 month ago by Lucas Caswell
Demarrit Steenbergen
1 month ago

You confuse Owen McKelvey with his elder brother Evan McKelvey. Owen didn’t even score last year in his one event. Evan swims at navy now. Evan was the one who went 44/1:39. The non senior on last year’s 4×100 was not Owen. Congrats to Owen though, he was able to get a lot faster and his is following in his brother’s footsteps

Last edited 1 month ago by Lucas Caswell