BY MATT McCLELLAND
After a successful regular season campaign for the Arthurs Middle School swim and dive team, the top athletes headed to the state meet. Hosted annually by Holt High School in late January, the MISCA (Michigan Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association) meet brings together the best middle school divers and swimmers for a two day competition. This year’s meet was held Jan. 27-28.
Friday night was all about the divers. In order to compete, the divers had to meet two qualifying criteria. First, they had to exceed an average of 150 points as calculated from their two best meets from the season. Second, from that list, only the top scoring 18 boys and 18 girls are permitted to participate.
Powering off a one meter springboard, the same apparatus used in high school, each diver performed six dives of their choice in front of seven judges. Samantha Plough and Jane McClelland, both seventh graders, had the opportunity to strut their stuff and they didn’t disappoint. Plough, after competing in club level gymnastics for several years, has just made the transition to diving, having been on a diving board for only a few months. Relying on strength and outstanding body control honed in the gym, she earned a 15th place medal at the state meet, a fabulous result for a brand new diver.
Plough’s teammate McClelland has been diving at the club level for several years, and that training was on full display. She executed each of her six dives cleanly, getting consistently good scores from the judges, resulting in a fourth-place medal. It was an exciting night for both girls.
Returning to the pool deck on Saturday was a very different scene. Rather than 36 total athletes competing one at a time, there were now hundreds of swimmers, competing in eight lanes strong. It was loud, crowded, hot, and exciting! All of the competitors had met or swam faster than the state qualifying time for each of their events. A swimmer may compete in up to four total events, with no more than two of them being individual.
The morning session is for the boys. Arthurs sent a total of four boys to the meet; eighth graders Spencer Boling-Hamer and Jace Chadwell, seventh grader Kyle Begeman and sixth grader Enrique Alcantar. 2017 marked the first year that sixth grade swimmers were permitted to swim in the state meet, and Alcantar easily met the qualifying standards.
To start their day, the quartet swam the opening event of the meet, the 200 medley relay. With Chadwell leading off in backstroke, Boling-Hamer doing breaststroke, Alcantar the butterfly and Begeman finishing with the freestyle, they beat their previous best by six seconds, taking sixth place in the state with a time of 2:03.42.
The next event for the boys to compete was the 100 individual medley (IM). Both Alcantar and Boling-Hamer were in a class to themselves. Enrique Alcantar was the only sixth grader to compete in the event, finishing 19th with a time of 1:10.80. Spencer Boling-Hamer became the very first AMS swimmer ever to complete the 100 IM in less than one minute. His time of 59.81 was good enough for fourth in the state and a new school record. The previous record was set in 1992 by Tom Goniea. Congratulations Spencer!
Spencer and Enrique also both competed in the 50 butterfly. Alcantar placed 23rd with a time of 31.05 and Spencer took home a second place medal with a time of 26.31. The final event for the boys was the 200 yard freestyle relay. Each of the four boys swam a 50 yard leg and their collective time of 1:52.62 earned them 14th place medals.
With the boys’ competition complete, it was time for the ladies to take center stage. Arthurs had six girls that qualified to compete in the swimming events. Eighth graders Lauren Leone, Olivia Livernois, Rachel Stapleton, Kelly Truitt, along with seventh grader Jane McClelland, and sixth grader Emma Donovan each got to flex their swim muscles to bring home medals for the Knights.
The day started with the eighth-grade quartet in the 200 medley relay earning an eighth place medal with a time of 2:06.19. Led off by Lauren Leone in the backstroke, followed by Kelly Truitt in the breast, Olivia Livernois in the butterfly, and Rachel Stapleton in the freestyle, the girls bettered their previous best time by over 1.5 seconds. Next up, both Livernois and Truitt competed in the 100 IM. Kelly Truitt touched the wall in 1:10.77, earning herself her second medal of the day, this time a 15th place individual. Olivia Livernois also cashed in, with a personal best of 1:07.77, earning her a spot on the sixth place medal stand.
The next individual competitor was Rachel Stapleton in the 50 freestyle. Stapleton had earned the right to compete in this event with a personal best that she swam just a week earlier at Woodhaven High School. She swam strong, and her 29.04 was good enough for 36th place. Olivia Livernois was next in the water, this time to swim her best event, the 50 butterfly. At the aforementioned Woodhaven meet, Livernois had broken the AMS school record with a time of 28.63. She erased current THS junior Claudia Raubolt’s record that had stood for three years, and in so doing, joined her older sister Blake on the record board. In the state meet, Olivia’s swim was a smidge slower, but she still nabbed a ninth place medal with her lightning quick time of 29.61.
In the following event, the 100 yard freestyle, Jane McClelland competed in her second individual event as diving counts as one of the two individual events that a swimmer is allowed. McClelland was one of only two athletes that qualified for both the diving and the swimming events. She swam a personal best time of 58.86, breaking the minute barrier for the first time and earning herself a 14th place medal.
The next event was the 200 freestyle relay. The squad of Rachel, Kelly, Olivia, and Jane earned an 11th-place medal, with a time of 1:54.34, improving on their season best by over 1.2 seconds. With only one individual AMS event remaining, Kelly Truitt was back on the blocks, this time for the 100 breaststroke. She had a huge PR, dropping over 3.5 seconds, finishing in 1:15.06 and earning herself a fifth place medal. This led into the final event of the competition, the 400 yard freestyle relay.
With each swimmer doing 100 yards, it can be a challenge to find a foursome equal to the task at the end of a long meet. On this occasion, Emma Donovan, Lauren Leone, Rachel Stapleton, and Jane McClelland took to the water in that order and finished with a season best 4:24.91. This was more than a four second improvement on their previous fastest time in this event and it landed them in 21st place.
All in all, the sixth, seventh and eighth grade squad coached by Max Monas and Kathy McPartlin had a strong showing. Bringing home a combined four relay medals and nine individual medals, along with numerous personal best swims, it was a very successful conclusion to the season. Congratulations to the coaches as well as the swimmers and divers!
For a complete listing of this year’s swimming results, visit: http://miscaonline.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/MiddleSchool_2017.pdf. The diving results are not available online.