Photo by Erin Sanchez

Crusaders sweep MAC Blue, earn first swim league title since 2019

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Macomb Chronicle | Published March 5, 2024

 Macomb L’Anse Creuse North sophomore Seth Gehrke competes in the 100 butterfly at the LCN Invitational Feb. 27 at L’Anse Creuse North High School.

Macomb L’Anse Creuse North sophomore Seth Gehrke competes in the 100 butterfly at the LCN Invitational Feb. 27 at L’Anse Creuse North High School.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Macomb L’Anse Creuse High School-North boys swimming has been on a tour of the Macomb Area Conference the past three years.

Since winning the MAC White in 2019, where LCN competed for the better part of the last decade, the Crusaders struggled in the White for two consecutive seasons, made a brief sprint in the Red in 2023 and finally dove into the MAC Blue this season.

Even though LCN head coach Mike Owensby couldn’t wrap his head how his team found themselves in the Red in the first place, a clean sweep of the Blue with LCN claiming both the head-to-head dual meets and division meet championship, Owensby said the Red competition was exactly what his guys needed.

“A lot of it had to do with the boys’ attitudes,” Owensby said. “Last year, we moved up to the Red, which is the toughest division, after finishing at the bottom of the White for two years in a row. Why we got moved up, I don’t know, but it was okay with me because they got to see that higher level of competition.”

The head-to-head league title came down to LCN’s final meet of the season — a matchup against 4-0 Madison Heights Lamphere on Feb. 13 at Lamphere High School.

In a winner-take-all meeting, LCN dominated Lamphere 124-54, claiming first in nine of the 12 events courtesy of strong performances by sophomore Sam Johnson (200 free), junior Nick Redmerski (100 fly), sophomore Nick Vaughn (500 free), sophomore Kale Smith (100 back) and junior Arnel Tankic (100 breast) and a clean sweep in the relays.

Senior Joe Vaughn, older brother of Nick Vaughn, led LCN in 1-meter diving and will represent the Crusaders in the event at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state finals on March 8 at Oakland University.

It was the largest margin of victory for LCN on the year, and Owensby said his team was mentally prepared for the meet.

“In the last dual meet against Lamphere, they just went into that meet ready to win that championship,” Owensby said. “You could see it when they came out, and when I compare the best times from Lamphere with ours, we really shouldn’t have won any of the events, but we won almost all of them. They went in there to swim to win.”

North finished off the Blue at the division meet on Feb. 24 with a first-place finish from Redmerski in the 100 freestyle and LCN’s 400 freestyle relay group consisting of Redmerski, Joe Vaughn, freshman Kacen Lehl and sophomore Seth Gehrke.

North received silver medal performances by Joe Vaughn (1-meter dive), Nick Vaughn (500 free), Sam Johnson (200 free), Smith (100 back) and LCN’s 200 freestyle relay group.

It was a commanding finish to a season kicked off with a brutal exhibition loss to St. Clair Shores Lakeview, the top team in the MAC White, but LCN remained intact and persevered.

“What’s been really successful this year for us has been our positivity being excellent,” Tankic said. “We weren’t really social or open to communication last year where we’re more friendly and open to each other this year.”

With Joe Vaughn being the lone senior on the squad. LCN will return a healthy number of starters this season in efforts to make a run at another league title.

Maybe it will be in the Blue or potentially LCN makes its return to the White in the 2025 season, but LCN swimming is in a great place right now, and Joe Vaughn said he expects the underclassmen and incoming juniors and seniors to keep the momentum rolling.

“Now that we have more positivity on the team and more people pushing themselves and trying to work and get to where they’re making PRs and close to breaking records, I think we have a great chance next year,” Joe Vaughn said.