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Warren swim teams are making their presence felt in the MAC

February 15, 2012

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Mott junior Lance Rippy performs the backstroke. Rippy may have an opportunity to lead the Marauders to dual- and division-meet championships.

The 2011-2012 season has been a good one for boys swimming and diving teams in Warren.

Warren Woods Tower and Warren Cousino clinched the Macomb Area Conference Blue and Gold dual meet titles, respectively, each going undefeated. Mott is having a strong season, as well.

Woods Tower coach Matt Rohloff admits that prior to the season if he had told his team it had a shot at winning the MAC Blue, it probably wouldn’t have bought it. The Titans finished 2-3 in the division last season and had some rough meets.

What a difference a year has made for Rohloff and his Titans.

“It’s definitely been a successful season for us,” he said. “It’s our second year in the Blue Division, and to have a season like this, it’s quite a turnaround from last year. We took some lumps moving up in that division. We had been in the Gold the previous seven or eight seasons, and it’s a big step up. To be dual-meet champions is quite a step forward for my boys.”

Woods Tower (10-1 overall, 5-0 MAC Blue) also qualified nine swimmers for the county meet, which was held on Feb. 4. Such swimmers as Mitchell Jowers, Niklas Korenic and Lucas Kelly have helped the Titans make their presence felt in the MAC Blue.

And despite the success it has already enjoyed, there is still some business Woods Tower would like to attend to in the MAC Blue.

“At this point, we’re looking at that division meet,” Rohloff said. “That’s the next battle that we’re setting our sights on.”

Given that Cousino has won two of the last three dual meets in the MAC Gold, the Patriots don’t have to worry about climbing up in the standings so much as they do trying to maintain their place at the top of the division.

“The guys themselves come in every season expecting to win a championship,” Cousino coach Scott MacDonald said. “I don’t even have to mention it; they’re talking about it before I even know who’s on the team. The guys come in knowing they want to win, and they know that the other guys on the team have already won one, so they want to know what that feeling’s like, too.”

Cousino (7-1 overall, 5-0 MAC Gold) diver Jacob Johnson is an All-American and recently took third place at the county meet. Along with swimmers such as Mike Freckelton, Jeremy Pigula and Paul Stabile, Johnson has helped put the Patriots in a position to capture their third division meet championship in a row.

MacDonald believes that continuity has played a big role in the success the Patriots have enjoyed.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have, especially over the last three years, groups of guys that have stayed with the team and pick this as kind of their main sport, instead of just using it as a sport to keep in shape,” he said. “They pick it, and they’ve excelled. These kids have done well medaling the last two years, just pushing themselves so they can win championships. And luckily for me, it pays off.”

Mott would like to become Warren’s third team to wrap up a championship. The Marauders have been making their fair share of noise, and coach Stephanie Stanley has some ideas as to why they are in position to lay claim to a MAC Silver title.

“It comes down to depth,” she said. “I have a lot of good swimmers that I can put in multiple events. I have a couple swimmers that can do almost anything I put them in, or if not, they at least try their hardest. I have freshmen trying different events they never they thought they could do.”

Swimmer Lance Rippy and diver Scottie Simcox are just a couple of reasons why the Marauders find themselves in the position they’re in. Simcox placed eighth at the county meet and has competed in regional meets three times.

Stanley is hoping that Simcox will have a shot at making the state meet. But before that, the Marauders (5-1 overall, 3-0 MAC Silver) have a more immediate goal to chase.

As is the case with MacDonald and Rohloff, Stanley is seeking to bring a division championship to her school.

All three schools will be competing in division meets Feb. 23-25. Diving preliminaries kick things off for all three schools and take place Feb. 23 at L’Anse Creuse North.

The division meets for Woods Tower, Cousino and Mott are Feb. 24-25. Tower swims at L’Anse Creuse North; Cousino is in action at Marine City High; and Mott is playing host to its divisional rivals.

Check with host schools for exact start times.

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