2005. 3.11 Ann Arbor News-2
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Pioneer primed for its best pool times
Pioneers hope state meet again brings out best in swimmers
Friday, March 11, 2005
BY ROB HOFFMAN
News Sports Reporter
The talk has been rampant among members of the Michigan high school swimming community this week.
Will Pioneer win its third state championship in the last four years? Or can Zeeland or Birmingham Brother Rice grab the crown from the perennial powerhouse of the Great Lakes State? In person and on Internet chat boards, coaches and swim enthusiasts have been comparing seeding times and head-to-head matchups, trying to project a winner.
But none of that matters to Pioneer coach Denny Hill.
"It usually boils down to whoever swims the best," said Hill, who has won 12 state championships during his 38 years of coaching boys swimming at the Ann Arbor school. "Which is the way it should be. It's not higher math, I guess."
No, it's not. But if things add up the way things are shaping up for Pioneer, Hill may emerge Saturday with his 13th state title. The Division 1 finals take place today and Saturday at Eastern Michigan University's Jones Natatorium.
At the Division 2 finals, being staged simultaneously at Oakland University, Dexter and Chelsea will try for top-five finishes. At the top, defending champion Birmingham Groves figures to be locked in a close battle with Birmingham Seaholm and Midland Dow.
In Division 1, here's why Pioneer figures to be the team to beat: Hill's team has five top-eight seeds in the individual swim events, including junior Sho Koba, the top seed in both the 100- and 200-yard freestyles. All three relays teams are in the top eight, including the top-ranked 400 freestyle relay.
If the rankings hold up as projected, and even if Zeeland wins the diving competition, the Pioneers would beat their western Michigan rivals by two points.
In fact, Pioneer should do even better. Because of Hill's unique training regimen, most Pioneer swimmers drop several seconds off their times at the state meet - such as last season when the Pioneers entered the meet with some of its lowest seedings in years, but came within a razor-thin relay race of upending eventual state champion Holland.
"In the last two years, we've had great state meets," Hill said. "If that happens again, I feel pretty good."
Here's a look at the other teams competing this weekend:
Brighton: Diver Kelly Todd has recorded the top score in Division 1 this year and captured the first regional title of his career this week.
Canton: Sho Uno (100 butterfly) has an outside shot of making the finals.
Huron: Steve Weinberg, who finished fourth in last year's 100 backstroke, is seeded No. 2 this year. The River Rats could also get a top 10 finish from their 200 freestyle relay team.
Pinckney: Aaron Renton (50, 100 freestyle) is the Pirates' only state qualifier.
Saline: After back-to-back runner-up finishes in the 200 individual medley, top-seeded Dan Warner is finally ready to claim the title.
Salem: The Rocks could make some noise in the 100 backstroke with Nick Dixon and Matt Jurcak.
South Lyon: Ryan Fulkerson is a threat in both the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke.
Chelsea: Andy Kellogg (200 individual medley, 100 freestyle) could medal.
Dexter: University of Michigan-bound Bryan Vessels will try to defend his 100 backstroke title, where he is seeded No. 1. He is also No. 2 in the 50 freestyle, .02 second behind MIke Desautels of Bloomfield Hills Andover. Vessels also swims on the No. 2-seeded 200 medley relay team.
Milan: Diver Kyle Schroeder looks to be a shoo-in for his second straight state title. In swimming, Ryan Bordine (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke) could find himself in the finals.
Tecumseh: Scott Yarborough (100 breaststroke) is a likely finalist.
Ypsilanti: Tim Liederbach is seeded No. 14 in the 100 backstroke.
Rob Hoffman can be reached at email@example.com or (734) 994-6814.