Mercy outlasts the competition in defending D1 state swim title

Jason Schmitt

YPSILANTI - The Harrison-Farmington girls swim team dominated the highlights at Saturday’s MHSAA Division 1 girls state swim finals at Eastern Michigan University.

But it was Farmington Hills Mercy that put together a complete team effort, one worthy of capturing its second straight state championship. The Marlins had 14 individual scoring efforts and finished third, sixth and eighth in the three team relay events to edge out runner-up Brighton and third-place Harrison-Farmington and win the school’s eighth state title since 2007.

“We don’t worry about places, we just come do our job,” said Mercy coach Michael Venos, whose team had no individual place better than fourth place. “We talk all the time that it’s never about winning. It’s about being the best and if they come here and they focus on what they need to do to go fast, they’re going to walk out successful.”

Mercy took home the championship in dramatic fashion. The Marlins and Brighton were tied with 179 points each entering the day’s final event - the 400-yard freestyle relay. With all eyes on the two teams at the top, the Marlins team of junior Kylie Goit, senior Courtney Connolly, junior Julia Coffman and sophomore Greta Gidley put together a magical performance, coming from behind to take down the Bulldogs, helping their team wrap up the team title.

Mercy finished with 211 points, narrowly beating out Brighton (209) and third place Harrison-Farmington (199).

Unlike the Marlins, the Thunderbirds used its star power to keep it in contention. Senior Ashley Turak won both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events - both in record-setting fashion - and helped the team’s 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams capture titles as well. Both of those races were won in state-record times, too. It was a repeat performance for Turak, who won the same four races a year ago at the state meet.

“I felt a lot stronger this year, so after we went for the record in the 400 free relay, it was such an amazing feeling,” said Turak, who was named swimmer of the meet for the second straight year. “To accomplish that with my team, especially with Harrison (high school) closing after this year, to finish off with that kind of legacy, as a team, it was honestly one of the best feelings of my life.”

Turak was joined by junior Lia Munson, senior Emma Inch and sophomore Madeline Greaves on the Thunderbirds’ winning relay squads. Just four years ago, Harrison-Farmington did not have a single individual qualifier at the state finals. This year’s third-place finish matched last year’s - though the team was a contender in 2018.

“The amount of depth and talent in the state is just unbelievable,” Harrison-Farmington coach Kyle Kinyon said. “Looking at the psych sheet when it came out, I knew it was going to be close. Nobody was running away with it. Just to be in position with these other teams that are in it year in and year out, it’s really special for these girls.”

Rockford (191 points) was fourth, followed by Saline (186), Ann Arbor Skyline (184), Ann Arbor Pioneer (172), Northville (123), Hudsonville (105) and Grand Haven (96) in the top 10. Locally, Stoney Creek and Novi tied for 15th overall, Lake Orion was 17th, Clarkston 21st, Bloomfield Hills 22nd, Rochester 24th, Oxford 29th and Troy 32nd.

Taking home individual all-state honors (top eight) were: Greaves, third in the 200 IM and third in the 100 butterfly; Lake Orion’s Claire Abbasse, second in the 50 and 100 freestyles; Stoney Creek’s Paige Koscielski fifth in the 50 freestyle; Connolly fourth in the 100 butterfly; Munson seventh in the 100 butterfly; Gidley sixth in the 100 freestyle; Inch fourth in the 500 freestyle; Dombkowski sixth in the 500 freestyle; Goit seventh in the 500 freestyle; Bloomfield Hills’ Sydney Woods sixth in the 100 backstroke; Stoney Creek’s Emily Shores second in the 100 breaststroke; and Rochester’s Victoria Thor, eighth in the 200 freestyle.

Mercy’s relay teams earning all-state honors were Coffman, Emma Engquist, Connolly and Annette Dombkowski in the 200-yard medley relay and Gidley, Lindsey Case, Goit and Dombkowski in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Other top performances by Oakland County teams included Novi’s McKaela Hills, ninth in diving and Kotoko Blair, 10th in the 50 freestyle; Clarkston’s Caroline Hughes, 10th in the 100 backstroke; Oxford’s Ashlee Weltyk, 11th in the 100 backstroke; and Troy’s Rucha Deshpande, 12th in the 100 breaststroke.