Source: Hometown Life
Author: Dan O'Meara
Like the leaves changing colors every autumn, another Michigan fall tradition is a Farmington Hills Mercy victory in the annual Oakland County girls swimming and diving meet.
The Marlins won their 12th consecutive championship Saturday at Lake Orion High School, outscoring Catholic League rival Bloomfield Hills Marian to win this year's title, 376-289.
They managed to perform very well despite being in mid-season form and not rested for the meet, according to first-year head coach Mike Venos.
"It was an important meet for the coaching staff because it was our first championship meet with these girls," he said. "We have been telling them all year they were capable of swimming fast when they were tired, and they were very, very tired.
"I think they were a little worried going into the meet, but they ended up swimming faster than they thought they would. Winning is always nice, but we were more thrilled by the way they competed, as sore and tired as they were."
Junior Katie Minnich was the top Mercy performer with two individual victories, three first places and major points in four events.
She won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:05.70 and returned later in the meet to win her specialty, the 100 backstroke, in a pool-record time of 55.51. Minnich is a two-time defending Division 1 state champion in the latter.
"I think Katie is set for a fantastic state championship meet," Venos said. "She swam her in-season best times, and she was pretty tired."
Mercy's only other individual win was in the 200 freestyle in which junior Kendall Goit (1:52.60) and sophomore Annette Dombkowski (1:53.74) finished first and second, respectively.
Starting with the 200 medley relay, the Marlins won the first three events, which was a great set-up for a successful competition.
Minnich, freshman Tierney Janovski, senior Alaina Skellett and Dombkowski comprised the winning relay team, which finished just ahead of Birmingham Seaholm, 1:47.61 to 1:48.02.
"It’s always nice starting out the meet with a great swim in the first event," Venos said. "The medley win put our girls in a pretty good frame of mind, but it was the success in the 200 free that really set the tone for the meet. Watching each girl in that event swim a season best started the ball rolling for us."
Mercy didn't win another race until six events later in the backstroke. In the meantime, the Marlins continued to add to their points total and build their lead.
Team depth was a huge factor in Mercy winning the meet, according to Venos. It placed six girls among the top 16 in the 200 freestyle and backstroke and five in the 500 freestyle.
"We took 23 swimmers and five divers to that meet," Venos said. "Everybody contributed whether it was in the pool or cheering on deck. It was a total team effort. That is the strength of Mercy."
Senior Alexa Rybicki was the runner-up in diving with 396.12 points. Skellett and Dombkowski were fourth in the 100 butterfly (57.55) and the 500 freestyle (5:07.82), respectively.
Mercy sophomore Annette Dombkowski was second in the 200-yard freestyle and fourth in the 500 freestyle at the Oakland County meet. (Photo: file photo)
Skellett also was fifth in the backstroke (58.17), and the Marlins had a pair of sixth places from freshman Kylie Goit in the 200 freestyle (1:55.29) and Kendall Goit in the 100 freestyle (53.42).
"The biggest factor was our depth, scoring multiple girls in the top 16, but the fact Mercy has been successful for so long at this meet is a huge factor as well," Venos said.
Kendall Goit, freshman Lindsey Case, Dombkowski and Kylie Goit finished fifth in the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.37), and the fourth-place 400 freestyle team, which finished in 3:35.85, consisted of the Goits, Skellett and Minnich.
The results of the county meet will serve as a good gauge for the Catholic League and state meets next month, Venos added.
"I think the girls gained some confidence, and that alone will carry us to a pretty successful end," he said.
Junior Mya Loniewski scored in two events for the Marlins, placing eighth in the 200 IM and 11th in the backstroke. (Photo: file photo)
The other Mercy girls who scored at the meet are as follows:
200 free: 8. fr. Chloe Pulick, 1:56.45; 12. jr. Isha Ganguli, 1:58.28; 13. fr. Julia Coffman, 1:58.62; 200 IM: 8. jr. Mya Loniewski, 2:12.10; 12. fr. Sarah Puscas, 2:13.91; 15. soph. Francesca Schena, 2:14.10; 50 free: 16. fr. Lindsey Case, 25.10; 100 fly: 11. fr. Katherine Hutter, 1:00.14; 100 free: 13. Isha Ganguli, 54.88; 14. Lindsey Case, 55.07; 500 free: 7. fr. Kylie Goit, 5:09.76; 9. Chloe Pulick, 5:11.65; 10. Katherine Hutter, 5:13.98; 15. Sarah Puscas, 5:17.97; 100 back: 7. Francesca Schena, 58.95; 11. Mya Loniewski, 59.81; 13. Julia Coffman, 59.87; 16. sr. Jackie Baldus, 1:00.45; 100 breast: 11. fr. Tierney Janovski, 1:09.44; 14. sr. Allison Lobbia, 1:10.09.