|Friday, March 12, 2004
Holland takes role of favorite
By Matthew Goricki / Special to The Detroit News
Ann Arbor Pioneer will be in an unfamiliar position this weekend during the Division 1 championship at the University of Michigan.
The Pioneers, two-time defending champions, are not considered the favorite for the state title. Holland, which came into the season ranked No. 1, has several of the state's fastest swimmers and will be difficult to beat.
Pioneer Coach Denny Hill said he believes Holland is the favorite.
"If Holland swims really well, I don't think nobody can touch them," Hill said.
Holland has a significant advantage in the relays, with the top seed in the 200-yard medley relay and second seed in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. Pioneer is seeded sixth in the 200, ninth in the 400 and 11th in the medley relay.
Seniors Grant Burtch and Evan Kobes and sophomore Adam DeJong lead Holland. Burtch won the 100 breaststroke in last season's state meet. Kobes won the 100 backstroke.
Kobes will be challenged in the backstroke by Midland Dow's Gabe Strickler, in one of the top matchups of the finals.
Sho Koba of Pioneer, Steve Bowling of Grand Blanc and Adam Schmitt of Grand Haven will compete in the 200 freestyle. Koba is considered the top underclassman in the state. Schmitt might be Michigan's top overall swimmer.
Koba and Schmitt might also swim against each other in the 100 freestyle.
Along with Holland and Pioneer, there are several teams who have a shot at finishing in the top five: Birmingham Brother Rice, Livonia Stevenson, Grand Haven, Grosse Pointe South, Holland Midland Dow, West Ottawa and Zeeland.
Matthew Goricki is a free-lance writer.