Source: C & G News
Author: Mike Moore
FARMINGTON HILLS — There are expectations, and then there is the reality of a year-by-year reality.
The Farmington Hills Mercy swimming and diving team is expected to contend for a Division 1 state title every season.
Yet, as he looked back on the 2015 season and a third-place finish at the Nov. 21 state finals, coach Shannon Dunworth had nothing but praise for his team and its bronze-medal season.
“We know the expectations for Mercy, and we will never lower them, but we were very pleased with how we did,” Dunworth said last week.
“We were a very good team. We hoped to win and were competitive with the best teams. But there were a couple better than us.”
Ann Arbor Skyline won the team title, finishing the event with a score of 290. Saline High scored 238, while Mercy finished with 217 in the 29-team field.
“I think we always feel like we’re supposed to win it all, which is a pretty great compliment to our program,” Dunworth said. “But there’s more to it than the ultimate finish. There’s been years we’ve won a state title but had kind of a flat season along the way. Then there’s a year like this year, where truthfully, I couldn’t be happier with the season we had.”
Mercy placed second in Division 1 last year and in 2012, while winning the title in 2013 and 2011.
Still, how far this year’s team progressed was what gave Dunworth so much satisfaction.
The team bid farewell to a considerable senior class after the 2014 season, and the overall youth of this team was exemplified by having just four seniors at the state final.
“We were outmatched in a number of things this year,” Dunworth said. “In a sport where you are held to hundredths of seconds determining success and failure, it’s easy to allow yourself to let down if you think you can’t live up to expectation. These girls did none of that. We lost several times this season, but they improved enough to bounce back every time.”
The Marlins took home a pair of individual state titles, as the 200-yard medley relay team of Katie Minnich, Allison Lobbia, Alaina Skellett and Annette Dombrowski took first place in a D-1 record time of 1 minute, 44.44 seconds.
Minnich also won the 100 backstroke in 54.67 seconds.
With so much talent scheduled to return, the Marlins are primed for another solid season in 2016.
Replacing senior “standout” Ellyse Conn, as Dunworth called her, “is impossible to do.”
Conn placed fifth in the 200 IM, third in the 500 freestyle and was part of the 200 relay that placed 11th.
“But we’re still going to have a large portion of the girls who scored points (at the finals) back,” Dunworth said. “The expectations aren’t going to change. It’s not so much to win it all, but we’re going to have a team that trains all year and is going to be competitive every time we step in the pool.”