2004. 3.13 Detroit Free Press

2004. 3.13 Detroit Free Press
Holland in good position for Division 1 title 
March 13, 2004 

When the preliminary events ended in the Division 1 swimming state championship on Friday, Holland coach Jon Shears sat down, collected his thoughts and admitted he had no idea what position his team had put itself in for today's finals. 
Had he known, he probably would have smiled. 
The Dutch won four preliminary events, setting a Division 1 state record in each, and is poised to win by more than 30 points if it swims as fast today. 
"We had some really good swims today," Shears said. "But there were a couple of guys who were off, too. But for the most part, we're where we wanted to be." 
Holland's 200-yard medley and 200 freestyle relays both head into finals seeded first, as do Dutch senior Evan Kobe in the 100 backstroke (51.05 seconds) and Grant Burtch (57.14) in the 100 breaststroke. Both Kobe and Burtch won state championships in those events last year and broke their own state records in Friday's prelims. 
Ann Arbor Pioneer, the two-time defending champion, is Holland's closest follower and could steal the crown with a few fast swims today. 
Pioneer qualified 19 entrants for the finals and is seeded first in two -- the 200 freestyle, where sophomore Sho Koba set a Division 1 record with a time of 1:41.31, and in the 400 freestyle relay. 
"We swam well," Pioneer coach Denny Hill said. "We'll be able to make it a meet, I think, and that was our goal." 
One swimmer in particular impressed Hill. 
"Ryan Gardner was seeded 45th in the 50 freestyle," he said, "and he got all the way down to 10th." 
Gardner, who swam in the first of six heats, dropped just over a second off his time, from 22.93 to 21.91. 
Jenison senior Nick Walkotten is positioned to win his third straight state title in both the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly. 
Grand Haven senior Adam Schmitt is seeded first in two events -- the 50 and 100 freestyles -- for today's finals. 
Had prelims been scored, Holland West Ottawa would have been in fourth behind Birmingham Brother Rice. Senior Matt Gauss enters the finals seeded third in the 500 and 200 freestyles. He set two state records with his 21.19 in the 50 and 46.13 in the 100. 
Division 2: Birmingham Groves qualified 20 entrants, including three top seeds, for today's finals. Scott Thompson led Groves with first-place qualifications in the 200 individual medley and 500 free. 
Bloomfield Hills Lahser has only one top seed -- the 400 freestyle relay -- but with 13 races today it might be the only team that could steal the title from Groves. 
Birmingham Seaholm took first in three events, including a blistering 20.54 from Dan Priestley in the 50 freestyle. Priestley also is the front-runner in the 100 free with a 45.77. Both times were faster than the Division 1 times in those events. 
Contact KRISTA LATHAM at 586-469-4923 or latham@freepress.com.