One team won its first league title in more than three decades.
The other won its conference meet as the defending champ.
Either way, it was an exciting day for two city swimming and diving programs.
Harper Creek finished first at the Southwestern & Central Conference Championship Meet, giving the Beavers their first league title in boys swimming since 1989.
Lakeview won the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference Championship Meet. The Spartans also won the same title two years ago and were defending champs after COVID concerns forced the league to shut down the league meet a year ago.
Harper Creek’s historic day
Harper Creek had 515 team points to finish first at the SCC meet at Allegan High School on Friday. Marshall was second with 369, tied with Otsego.
It was a championship the Beavers have waiting more than 30 years to win.
“This was the goal we have had for a long time,” Harper Creek coach Devin Hurst said. “We thought we might be able to get it done this year and everything fell together for us in the right way.
“We had the tools, we had the guys to fill in the right spots where we needed and we were able to make it happen. A lot of people have been coming up to us all year, saying it looks like this could be the year we do it, but we didn’t want to think about that until it actually happened. We wanted to stay focused on our goal and it felt really good to get it done.”
Harper Creek junior Justin LaFleur had a big day for the Beavers, with two individual titles. LaFleur set the conference meet record in the 500 freestyle, winning in a time of 4:50.95. He also took first in the 200 free in 1:48.19.
“So proud of that kid, he is definitely the engine that is driving a lot of what we are doing,” Hurst said.
Kevin Tiles also took a first place for Harper Creek in diving with 343.35 points. The Beavers only other first place was in the 200 medley relay, with the team of Carson Wager, Cole Patty, Dominik Papiez and Michael Brown in 1:45.01.
Beyond that, it was the Beavers’ depth that took them to the team title with several all-conference finishes.
“Depth was huge for us, and that’s where our new swimmers and younger swimmers came in,” Hurst said. “A lot of the guys contributed. Maybe they didn’t win, but when you can get points throughout, even in the consolations, that’s’ important in a meet like this.”
The Beavers had a handful of top-eight finishes.
Senior Cole Patty was second in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 100 free; Andrew Patty was second in the 500 free and third in the 200 free; Wager was second in the 200 IM and second in the 100 backstroke; Papiez took second in the 100 butterfly; Matthew Brown took seventh in the 200 free and sixth in the 500 free; Michael Brown finished fifth in the 100 free; Dean Fraley took fifth in diving and fifth in the 100 breaststroke; and Cameron Dunithan placed eighth in the 100 breaststroke.
The Beavers also took second in the 400 free relay with the team of Michael Brown, Patty, Wager and LaFleur; and Harper was fourth in the 200 free relay with the team of Cole Patty, Papiez, Andrew Patty and LaFleur.
Marshall was also carried by several top-eight finishes.
Jerome Korten was second in the 200 free and third in the 100 backstroke; Kieran Russell was fifth in the 200 IM and eighth in the backstroke; Noah Kue was seventh in the 200 IM and third in the 100 breaststroke; Marcos Eshuis took fifth in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 free; Isaac Culp was seventh in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 butterfly; Jonathan Sorensen finished sixth in diving; Carter Pratt was seventh in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the 100 backstroke; Micah Morehouse took eighth in the 500 free; and Carter Wheeler was seventh in the 100 breaststroke.
Spartans Defend Title
Lakeview won the SMAC title in 2020 and after the league canceled the event last year, the Spartans defended their title with another first-place finish in this year’s leage meet at Portage Central on Saturday.
Lakeview had 925 team points to edge second-place Portage Central by 85 points.
“That was a lot of fun,” said first-year Lakeview swimming and diving coach Andy Fredenburg, who took over this year for longtime coach Kyle Lott. “This has been a goal all year, this has been the focus. We wanted to do well in all of our meets, for sure, but this has been the goal from the start, to win this.
“It’s certainly not about me, but it was fun to help this team win a conference championship. I know how much fun it is to win one, since I won when I was a swimmer here. And with Coach (Kyle) Lott on the pool deck with us on Saturday, it was a lot of fun to experience winning this one with my old coach.”
The championship effort was highlighted by some record-breaking performances for Lakeview.
The 200 medley relay team took first and set the conference record, pool record and school record in a time of 1:35.63 with the team of Cameron Lott, Nathan Pawlowicz, Danny Borozan and Owen Baum.
Lott won the 100 backstroke in a league record time of 53.13 and was also fifth in the 200 IM.
Hunter Boyer set the pool record in diving to take first with 385.60 points.
“Depth was big for us,” Fredenburg said. “This was definitely a Lakeview Spartan team effort. We had 10 guys in the top eight in scoring in the conference meet. But we also had 10 guys score in the consolation finals and that’s kind of what put us ahead of the other teams that were close with us.”
Lakeview had numerous top-eight finishes.
Borozan finished third in the 200 free and fifth in the 100 butterfly; Pawlowicz took second in the 200 IM and third in the 100 breaststroke; Baum was fourth in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 free; Dane Schiller took seventh in the 50 free and sixth in the 100 free; all three divers finished in the top eight with Boyer being joined by Alex Byrd and Tanner Blair; Miguel Gonzalez was fifth in the 100 breaststroke; and freshman Christian Hancock finished in the top eight in the 200 free and the 500 free.
The Spartan 200 free relay team took third with the team of Schiller, Tyler Youngs-Ball, Evan Yarger and Baum. The 400 free relay team was third with Schiller, Lott, Borozan and Pawlowicz.
This article originally appeared on Battle Creek Enquirer: Harper Creek, Lakeview bring home league titles in swimming