MHSAA Girls Division I Preview: Ann Arbor Pioneer Leads the Way on Psych Sheets

MHSAA Girls Swimming & Diving Division I Championships

After a difficult year for everyone, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) is set for its girls swimming & diving state championships this weekend. Typically held in the November, the championships are being held in mid-January this season after a rollercoaster of a schedule. The boys swimming & diving season is slated to start after the conclusion of the meets this weekend.

Due to Michigan’s state Covid-19 protocols, which have changed regularly, the season was started and stopped on multiple occasions. Michigan was also one of the most strict states when it came to allowing pools to be open, which, of course, has a direct effect on swimmers’ ability to train. There are noticeably less swimmers in each event than we would typically see.

Defending Division I champions Farmington Hills Mercy graduated a huge chunk of last year’s title-winning team. While they still have senior Greta Gidley in the title hunt in her pair of individual events, Farmington Hills Mercy doesn’t have the number of swimmers or the high-powered relays from last season. Ann Arbor Pioneer, who finished 2nd in last year’s team standings, looks to be in excellent position heading into this weekend, seeded first in all three relays with plenty of highly-seeded individual swims to boot.

Pioneer is set to defend its titles from last year in the 200 free and 400 free relays. Last year, Pioneer won both free relays with entirely underclassmen squads, and return all swimmers from those relays except Lucy Mehraban, who isn’t competing this year. Vivian VanRenterghem, Holly Pringle, Lily Cramer, Autumn Bullinger, and Amelia Weyhing all return this year from last year’s winning relays. Pioneer is seeded first in the 200 free relay by 1.71 seconds, and 2.40 seconds in the 400 free.

Pioneer junior Vivian VanRenterghem is the defending runner-up in the 200 free, and with 2019 champion Allison Haak now graduated, VanRenterghem enters the meet with the top time. She placed 2nd last year with a 1:51.14, and is seeded at 1:52.82 coming into this weekend. Northville HS duo Laurel Wasiniak and Emily Roden are right behind VanRenterghem on the psych sheet, entered at 1:53.09 and 1:53.15 respectively. Roden finished 3rd in the event as a freshman last year, clocking a 1:51.68, while Wasiniak wasn’t in the 200 free last year.

Roden is also set to defend her 100 fly title, which she won last year as a freshman. Roden will have her hands full, as Plymouth HS junior Kendall Brady has had a breakout season of sorts, and enters the meet as the top seed by a large margin. Brady sits at 54.53 on the psych sheet, both 1.51 seconds ahead of Roden, and .90 seconds faster than the 55.43 Roden won the event with last year.

Brady, for her part, also enters as the top seed in the 50 free, which has opened up since 2019 champ Claire Tuttle graduated, and runner-up Lucy Mehraban isn’t competing this year. Brady’s 23.22 entry time is the fastest in the field by nearly half a second.

Another swimmer from last year who graduated and opened up the field is Kathryn Ackerman, who swam for Grand Huron and won the 200 IM by a huge margin last year. Greta Gidley, Farmington Hills Mercy senior, is the defending runner-up in the event and last year there was a significant margin between herself and 3rd place finisher Lily Cramer. This year, however, Ann Arbor Huron senior Annaliese Streeter is the top seed after finishing 8th last year. Rockford senior Sara Kraus is the 2nd seed, after finishing 5th in the race last year. Both Streeter and Kraus are seeded with times faster than they swam at last year’s meet.

While Greta Gidley will attempt to win the 200 IM after finishing 2nd in the event last year, she will not be attempting to defend her title in the 100 free, which she won last year. Gidley was the only swimmer in the field to break 50 seconds last year (49.58), albeit in prelims, and she won the event with a 50.53. Lucy Mehraban was the runner-up, leaving the top two swimmers from last year out of the equation this year. Blair Kotoko, a Novi junior, holds the top seed entering the meet with a 51.56.

Gidley will instead be racing the 500 free, where she is the 2nd seed behind Saline senior Kiersten Russell. The race looks set to be a good one, as Gidley holds a personal best of 4:57.19, while Russell is seeded with her personal best of 4:59.33.

Pioneer freshman Stella Chapman holds the top seed in the 100 back with a 56.30, while teammate Quoia Sam, the defending runner-up, is 2nd.

The top two finishers from last year in the 100 breast, Claire Tuttle and Masy Folcik, have graduated, leaving another open lane. Pioneer junior Edwina Jalet enters as the top seed with a 1:03.00, over a second faster than she swam last year when she finished 5th.

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6 months ago

Glad girls are getting chance to swim but disjointed season and many not swimming due to lack of training time could affect the times.