YPSILANTI — The Grosse Pointe South boys swim team had a successful end to its season at the MHSAA Division 2 state championship March 7-8 at Eastern Michigan University.
Coming into the meet projected to finish fifth as a team, the Blue Devils finished third and brought back a trophy for the first time in four years.
“There’s a lot of great teams there, and everybody swims fast. You have to be as fast as you’ve been coming into the meet. You have to be ready to drop more time if you want to do well at that meet and move up from where you’re seeded coming into it. We definitely did that,” South coach Eric Gunderson said.
South finished the meet with 196 points. Birmingham Seaholm took the title with 357.5 points, and Dexter took second with 203.
The Blue Devils opened the meet with a second-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay that finished in 1 minute, 34.23 seconds. Patrick Jackson, Jacob Montague, Devlin Francis and Nick Yoo formed the South quartet in the opening race, and with that time, they set a new school record and earned automatic All-America honors.
Jack Martin and Douglas Graham joined Francis and Yoo on the fifth-place, 200-yard freestyle relay that finished in 1:27.12.
Yoo, Martin, Jackson and Montague formed the third-place 400 freestyle relay team that swam in 3:10.24. That time was good enough for All-America consideration.
South’s relays combined to score 94 of the team’s 196 total points.
“Any relay in the top eight is going to be big points. If you’re going to make a run at a trophy as a team, you have to really be scoring at least two, if not three, in the top eight. You need a ton of points to get up there,” Gunderson said.
Individually, Jackson took third in the 100-yard backstroke with a finals time of 52.02 seconds. In the preliminary round, Jackson swam the race in 51.33 seconds, which broke a school record that was set in 1991, and it was also an All-America consideration time. Jackson also finished fifth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 50.95 seconds.
Montague, a sophomore, set two school records in his individual events. He finished fifth in the 100 breaststroke at 58.37 seconds, and he took third in the 200 IM at 1:53.75.
South’s pair of divers scored more combined points than any other team in the event. Junior Erik Romer finished fourth with 371.05 points, and senior Eric Addy placed fifth with 369.80 points.
“Coming into Saturday, we made up some ground, just not quite enough to take second place, but third was unbelieveable. It was higher than we expected. Fourth place was the lofty goal to bring home a trophy, and we almost ended up second, so third place was not bad at all, and we were very happy with it,” Gunderson said.
South made up considerable ground on the field at the state meet. In the second half of the season, South went from being projected to finish ninth as a team to taking third.
“If we swam the same times that we did at the conference meet, we may not have, or in some cases definitely (would) not have, been in the top eight, but we continued to drop time,” Gunderson said. “It was fun. It was definitely cool. That’s what you work the whole season for, and when it all comes together and everybody swims fast, that’s awesome.”