The Michigan High School Swimming and Diving State Championships kick off today, with teams from the three Lower Peninsula divisions (the Upper Peninsula competed three weeks ago) battling for state supremacy.
For the past two seasons, all three divisions were captured by schools located within a three-mile radius, with perennial power Birmingham Brother Rice securing Division I, Birmingham Seaholm winning their third title in five years in Division II, and Cranbrook-Kingswood running away with Division III. However, graduation hit all three schools hard, leaving plenty of room for challengers this weekend.
Division I Championships
Site: Holland Aquatics Center
Defending champion: Birmingham Brother Rice High School
Psych sheet: Link
Despite returning just four of twelve relay legs and losing a total of six individual second place finishes from a year ago, defending champion Birmingham Brother Rice remains the favorite to take home their third straight team title. The Warriors have 19 individual swims seeded in the top 20—including three swimmers expected to A-final twice—as well as all three relays seeded second overall.
A slew of teams could challenge Brother Rice with a peak team performance, or if the Warriors slip up. Rival high schools Ann Arbor Skyline and Ann Arbor Pioneer each have very good top-end talent and are the top seed in at least one relay. Zeeland High School is loaded, as well, and has a clear edge on the boards, with a pair of swimmers seeded in the top three in 1-meter diving. Ann Arbor Skyline, which is competing in Division I for the first time in school history,
Individually, all eyes are on Monroe High School senior Cameron Craig, an Arizona State University commit who has been on fire this season, turning in a 1:47.17 200 IM and 47.84 100 backstroke just weeks ago at a high school invitational meet. While both of those times were under the current all-state records, Craig doesn’t yet officially have his name on them; in Michigan high school swimming, state records can only officially be set at a state championship meet.
Beyond Craig’s record hunt, there are a number of intriguing races. Ryan Vander Meulen of Ann Arbor Skyline, Spencer Carl of Holland West Ottawa, and Micah DeJonge are the top three seeds in the 200 free, and are each seeded first in their respective second individual events. In addition, top seeds Catholic Central’s Jonathan Lee and Drew Grady of Brother Rice are just 0.01 seconds apart in the 100 breast (although Grady has a faster lifetime best than his seed).
Division II Championships
Site: Saginaw Valley State University
Defending champion: Birmingham Seaholm High School
Psych sheet: Link
With Seaholm graduating six individual scorers and eight of twelve relay legs, Division II is completely up for grabs, with the Dexter High School and Warren De La Salle challenging the defending champions for the crown.
Dexter leads all schools by number of entries (including a whopping eight qualifiers in the 200 free), highlighted by double top-seed and defending individual champion Rob Zofchak. However, De La Salle, far from a traditional swimming power, has put together an incredible year, particularly PJ Desmet, the top seed in the 100 fly.
Meanwhile, although Seaholm lacks their depth from prior season, they still have plenty of top-end talent, led by Liam Little (#2 seed in the 50 and 100 free) and Sebastian Fey (state champion diver) that should keep them in the mix if Dexter falters.
Division III Championships
Site: Eastern Michigan University
Defending champion: Cranbrook-Kingswood High School
Psych sheet: Link
The Division III meet will likely come down to the same teams who took the top three spots a season ago: Cranbrook-Kingswood, Chelsea, and East Grand Rapids. Each team is a threat to finish in the top three in each relay, while also bringing enough depth to the table to contend.
On paper, East Grand Rapids has the edge; they have the most firepower, boasting four potential individual state champions in Nathan Hein, Andy MacGregor, Christian Bart, and diver Grant Williams. Cranbrook-Kingswood graduated a majority of their top swimmers from last year, but returns a host of scorers and fringe-scorers, including a group of four 100 breaststrokers seeded in the top 10 (led by top-seed Giogio DelGrosso). For Chelsea, the key difference-maker is defending 50 free state champion Joey Mangner.
There are two particular individual races to watch for: MacGregor vs. Mangner in the 100 free (MacGregor is the defending champion, but Mangner is much-improved), and Cranbrooks’ Giorgio DelGrosso vs. both the clock and Christian Bart of East Grand Rapids.