Farmington Hills Mercy swimming wins fifth straight title
For the first time in a long time, the Farmington Hills Mercy swim team entered a state final looking to knock another squad off the pedestal.
The Marlins arrived at the Division 1 state championship Nov. 18-19 at Eastern Michigan University after winning the D-2 title the past four previous seasons.
In their way was Saline High, the two-time D-1 state champ.
“It was a lot of fun being in the role trying to unseat them,” Mercy coach Shannon Dunworth said. “It was a great challenge, and both teams swam really well.”
But in the end, it was Mercy claiming its fifth straight state championship.
The Marlins finished with 258 points; Saline tallied 243.5. The top two finished way ahead of the rest of the field. Third-place Bloomfield Hills Marian had 165 points by comparison.
“It’s as exciting as the first one,” Dunworth said. “In high school sports, you turn over 35 percent of the team every year, so it’s a brand-new personality of the team each time. Everything about each championship is unique.”
Dunworth added that in recent years, D-2 was a stronger field than D-1, but the pendulum has swung, which is why the Marlins opted to move in the higher division.
“Overall, the deepest competition is in D-1 now, and in the long-term interest for the kids, it’s better for them to be in the best competition as possible. We started to see that it happening in D-1, and we moved for that very reason,” Dunworth said.
Mercy won this title without an individual state champion.
“It was a great example of what we mean by team,” the coach said.
Mercy got major points from its relay teams, as all three finished in the top five.
The Marlins’ Elliot Schniella, Maddy Loniewski, Annie Valentine and Roxanne Griffore teamed up for a third-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay; Loniewski and Schniella joined with Sato Kakihara and Olivia Samoray to take third in the 200 freestyle relay; and Kakihara, Kathleen McGee, Griffore and Samoray closed out the meet with a fourth-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay.
In diving, Mercy’s Emmy Orrico finished seventh.
Individually for Mercy, Maddy Loniewski finished in third in the 200 IM; Kathleen McGee took fourth in the 500 freestyle; Sato Kakihara finished fifth in the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly; Olivia Samoray placed fifth in the 500 freestyle and sixth in the 200 freestyle; Elliot Schinella took fourth in the 100 backstroke; and Annie Valentine was sixth in the 100 butterfly.
Sports Writer Jon Malavolti contributed to this story.