GIRLS SWIM & DIVE: Mercy wins 16th straight Oakland County crown

| October 8, 2019 | Comments (0)



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LAKE ORION — Dominant.

In the eight sports that there is an official Oakland County Championships tournament, no school has a stranglehold in its respective sport than Farmington Hills Mercy does with girls swim and dive.

The Marlins captured their unprecedented 16th straight Oakland County title Saturday with another dominating effort.

Mercy rolled up an impressive 450.5 team tool to win by 175 points over runner-up Novi (275.5). Rochester Adams was a solid third at 239, while Birmingham Marian (188.5), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood (154), Oxford (!33), Farmington (114.5), Lake Orion (108), Birmingham Groves (105.5) and Birmingham Seaholm (85) rounded out the top 10 of the field where 25 schools reached the scoring column.

Of the total of top-16 finishes over 12 events equaling 192 scoring-places at the two-day meet held at Lake Orion High School, the Marlins picked up an impressive 32 scoring spots — around 17 percent. No other team had double digits in terms of scoring slots.

“Just like last year, it is our depth that makes the difference,” said Mercy coach Mike Venos, who is in his fourth season with the Marlins and is also head coach at Birmingham Brother Rice’s boys swim and dive program. “Sure we had some champions and swimmers and divers that placed really high, but it all of those other (competitors) that finished in the top (16) to score points that really made the difference.”

Mercy’s Madeline Greaves the 200 IM (2:06.05) and 500 free (5:00.26) to help set the tone. Greta Gidley added wins in the 50 free (23.26) and 100 free (51.02),

Ciara McCliment won the one-meter diving (398.00) and Emma Engquist the 100 breaststroke (1:07.42) for the Marlins.

Mercy took four of the top six slots in the 500 free and six of the top 16. The Marlins also had four top-10 finishers in both the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, and three top-10 finishes in the 200 free to help them pile on points and run away with the meet.

“I honestly don’t know how many we’ve won or how many in a row. You’re only as good as your latest win,” said Venos. “But we do take pride in this meet because each year it kicks off the championship season and we know where we stand now. It also is against some of the top swimmers and teams in the state. You do well here and you usually do well at the state meet.” 

Novi rode to the runner-up finish behind a win in the 200 free relay. The unit of Kotoko Blair, Elise Fonda, Kyla Matthews and Julia Katulski clocked 1:37.22 to edge Adams by .22 of a second.

The Wildcats’ foursome of Blair, Fonda, Katulski and Jamin Son also ended the meet with a victory in the 400 free relay (3:33.99), again winning by just two-tenths of a second over Mercy.

In an championships event long since dominated by the Farmington, Birmingham/Bloomfield area and Rochester schools over the past three decades, this was Novi’s top team finish. Over the last 25 years, only a small handful of schools have ever finished first or second at the prestigious meet. 

“They have done a great job in recent years to get up there as one of the top teams in the county,” noted Venos of Novi. “I know Novi’s boys team has been up there. Novi’s coaches have done a great job building that program.”

Rochester Adams, which captured the Division 2 state championship last season, opened the meet with the foursome of Meghan Fleury, Rhian Russell, Yitian Zhang and Claire Sweetwood joining forces to win the 200-yard medley relay (1:46.49).

Russell came back to win the 100 butterfly (56.08) for the Highlanders — third in the team standings for the second straight year.

Oxford’s Jenna Fistler the 200 free (1:53.66) becoming the school’s first county champion.

Cranbrook-Kingswood’s Justine Murdock won the 100 backstroke (57.58) to round out the winners circle.

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