Like professional boxing in its heyday, Oakland County boys swimming and diving seems to have a crowd of contenders at the top, annually positioning themselves for a shot at the title.
This year’s county competition was no different, as the big three of recent years — the Birmingham trifecta of Groves, Seaholm and Brother Rice — traded and absorbed blows at the top until one team was left standing Feb. 4 at Waterford Mott.
Brother Rice, last crowned county champs in 2007, reclaimed the title with 303 points. Seaholm, the defending champ, was second with 268 points, and Groves, champions in 2010 and 2009, was third with 251.5.
“It felt pretty good,” Rice coach Michael Venos said about returning to the top spot.
Rounding out the top 10 teams are Novi-Detroit Catholic Central in fourth place with 199 points, followed by Troy High (164), Novi High (160.5), South Lyon (143), Clarkston High (102.5), Farmington Hills Harrison (99) and Lake Orion High (95).
Bloomfield Hills Lahser (89.5), Bloomfield Hills Andover (71), North Farmington (67.5), White Lake Lakeland (56.5), Rochester High (55), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood (50.5), Beverly Hills-Detroit Country Day (37), Walled Lake Central (29), Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (27), Highland Milford (16), Oxford High (16), Walled Lake Northern (15), Auburn Hills Avondale (4.5), Rochester Adams (3) and Troy Athens (2) also tallied points.
Rice’s Joe Krause (200-yard freestyle and 100 freestyle), Catholic Central’s Jack Walsh (200 IM and 100 backstroke), CC’s Tim Szuba (50 freestyle), South Lyon’s Dan Gironza (diving), Troy’s Troy Chen (100 butterfly), Rochester’s Jacob Carl (500 freestyle) and Lake Orion’s Jacob Lindquist (100 breaststroke) won individual titles.
Relay championships went to Groves’ Noah Zamler, Lindsay Clark, Sam Cusimano and John Hammond (200 medley); Rice’s Krause, Gust Kouvaris, Joe Morgan and Patrick Nodland (200 freestyle); and Groves’ Scott Crosthwaite, Zamler, Tom Power and Steven Curry (400 free).
For complete results, visit www.waterford.k12.mi.us/swimdive/OC/ocboys2012finalresults.htm.
Venos said Rice’s goal wasn’t racking up points.
“The biggest key this year was not going in focusing on scoring points,” the coach said. “Ideally, we go there and focus on our times, and whatever happens, happens.”
Youth contributions were a big factor for Rice and several other squads.
“We’ve got a pretty good combination of top line scorers and younger kids stepping up; we are really bottom loaded as far as grades go,” Venos said. “Our underclassmen are our strength in numbers. They’re learning their role and place on the team.”
The coach added that the title has brought the young team confidence, in addition to something else that should help it achieve success in the future.
“I think more so than anything, the target is back on our backs, and I think we have a team that’s going to thrive on that,” Venos said. “We’ve got a group of kids that are really going to step up, and that’s going to motivate and push them.”