2005. 3.12 Detroit Free Press
DIVISION 1 SWIMMING: Pioneer enjoys strong presence in prelims
March 12, 2005
BY WRIGHT WILSON
FREE PRESS SPECIAL WRITER
Top-ranked Ann Arbor Pioneer is favored to reclaim the Division 1 swimming championship today at Eastern Michigan University.
The Pioneers, who were runners-up to Holland last year after winning the titles in 2002 and 2003, posted the fastest preliminary times in five events Friday and have qualifiers in all 11 of today's races.
"We swam so well today I can't believe we're not the favorite. Right down the line, we couldn't ask for much more," said Pioneer coach Denny Hill, whose team has won 12 titles and has finished as champion or runner-up each season since 1992.
Sho Koba led qualifiers in the 200-yard freestyle (a meet-record 1:39.15) and the 100 freestyle (46.77). In addition, the junior anchored Pioneer's 200 and 400 freestyle relays (1:26.82 and 3:10.55), both of which qualified first for today's championship session.
David Curtis, who was also on both relays, is Pioneer's other individual to have a top time. He led the qualifiers in the 500 freestyle (4:39.24), after coming into the preliminary heats as the eighth seed. He also qualified second behind Koba in the 200.
"There's no doubt we have to swim better, or else it won't be very fun," Hill said of today's finals. "Right now I think we're in pretty good shape."
Fifteen out of 20 Pioneers who qualified for today's session will swim championship heats, which match the top eight qualifiers. Five Pioneer swimmers made the cut in the 200: Koba, Curtis, Robert Steele, Chris Buck and Josh D'Angelo.
Sophomore Jason Hass qualified fourth in the 100 butterfly and seventh in the 200 individual medley and will be on two relays.
The top competition for Pioneer could be Zeeland, Birmingham Brother Rice, Grosse Pointe South, Troy and Holland.
"This was a fast meet today," Holland coach Don Kimble said. "Hopefully we can move up in our spots and still stay in the top 10. Ann Arbor swam unbelievable today."
Other swimmers with top prelim times were Holland West Ottawa's 200 medley relay (1:36.25); Saline's Dan Warner in the 200 IM (1:53.40); Troy's Jamie Martone in the 50 free (21.28); Grosse Pointe South's Luke Richard in the 100 butterfly (50.05); Brother Rice's Mike Burton in the 100 backstroke (53.10), and Zeeland's Justin Barkel in the 100 breaststroke (57.56).
"Friday's all about swimming fast, but Saturday's definitely going to be a race," Martone said.