2010 County Champions!!!!! News & Views
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Coach Tony says it feels great! Team celebration!
Big Reds, Ike swimmer big winners at county meet Extra motivation spurs Chippewa Valley, Prentis
By Chuck Klonke
Special to The Macomb Daily
A second-place finish often spurs a team or an athlete on to bigger and better things.Chippewa Valley’s girls swim team and Eisenhower’s Kei Cze Prentis could be the poster children for that theory. The Big Reds won the team title at the Macomb County Swimming and Diving championships at L’Anse Creuse North on Saturday. The Big Reds had 351 points to 283 for runner-up Dakota. Romeo was third with 199.5 points.
Prentis won the Senior Swimmer Award after winning the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke. Both of Prentis’ firsts were meet and pool records.
“The seniors stepped up,” said Big Reds coach Tony Grice. “They were a huge part of what we did today. They’ve brought the team, especially the younger swimmers, along throughout the season.“After improving as much as they did last year, getting second here, swimming so well at the division meet, making three state cuts in the relays, they were pumped for more this year. They worked so hard in the offseason. Some of their times already this year have been amazing. They saw what they could do last year. From the beginning, this was the goal. They didn’t say it, but I know they were thinking it.”
Depth was a factor in Chippewa Valley’s team success. The Big Reds took two firsts - Shaina Kulczycki in the 50 freestyle and the 200 freestyle relay - but they picked up points in every event. “We had people in every event, almost every heat,” Grice said. “I’m so proud of what they did today and they’re going to keep getting better. This is just a start.” While seniors like Kulczycki and Brianne Shock led the way, sophomore Samantha Gray and freshmen Skyler Muzichuk and Erika Willson also played key roles.
Last year, Prentis finished second to Dakota’s Hannah Pugh in the 200 individual medley. This year she held off the Cougars junior to win the event in 2:09.35, breaking the pool and meet record of 2:11.92 that Pugh set at last year’s meet. Pugh also topped her previous record with a second-place time of 2:10.47.
Prentis knew she had her work cut out for herself with Pugh and Nicole Hranchook in the field. “I knew Hannah and Nicole were swimming and they’ve beaten me,” Prentis said. “This is my senior year and I wanted to finish it great. I was way, way more confident than I have been. I’ve been thinking positive thoughts, training hard. We have a new coach with some different work styles.” Once the race began, Prentis knew that Pugh was matching her nearly stroke-for-stroke. “Most definitely,” Prentis said. “Hannah’s an awesome (butter)flyer, awesome breaststroker, awesome freestyler - and she knows how to finish off a race. I knew I just had to pull whatever was left in me and finish hard. “I’ve gained a ton more confidence this year. Last year I’d be thinking, ‘Hannah’s so fast I don’t know if I can beat her.’ Today I just swam my own race.”Prentis said that she gained confidence when she held her own with Pugh in the butterfly leg.“After the fly we were neck-and-neck,” Prentis said. “That’s not my best stroke so I could use that to my benefit because I am a backstroker and I am a breaststroker. Everybody knows how to finish the freestyle (leg) hard. I’ve been working hard and I knew it had to pay off.”Prentis wasn’t challenged quite as much in the backstroke. She broke her own pool and meet record of 1:01.54 with a winning time of 1:00.09. Stevenson freshman Rachel Morrow was second at 1:03.17.“I thought the backstroke would be a little easier to win,” Prentis said. “I was still nervous, but it was a good nervous.”Prentis has been swimming the backstroke since she was 10.“Obviously, I like it because I’m pretty good at it,” she said with a smile. “When I was 10 the coach said, ‘you’re going to be a backstroker.’ I accepted it, got used to it, worked at it and got better. Now I love it.” Prentis said there is a key factor in being a good backstroker.“You have to be great under water,” she said. “Almost every race, my under water saved me. I’ll get somebody on the turn and I’ll just carry on with my stroke.”
The other double winner in the meet was Dakota freshman Marah Pugh, Hannah’s little sister. She took first in the 200 freestyle with a pool record time of 1:56.34 and she won the 100 freestyle in 54.43, another pool record. Each time she broke her own mark.“I was just trying to go my hardest,” she said. “In the 200 there’s a little more room for error. In the 100 you can’t afford to make any mistakes. I just tried to go my hardest, which I always do.” Marah was quick to give Hannah credit for her development as a swimmer.“Without her, I wouldn’t be half as good as I am,” Marah said. “She’s an inspiration for me. She’s always been there to help me. She’s great to all the team. She really gets us going.”
Hannah got a win of her own in the 500 freestyle, posting a first-place time of 5:14.21.Her secret to winning the 500?“Pace,” she said. “Go out hard and finish strong. All the other (events) are sprints. I don’t care what anyone says, the 200 is a sprint. In the 500 you have to keep consistency.” Hannah was pleased with her sister’s accomplishments.“I’m proud of her,” she said.Both Pughs also swam on Dakota’s winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.
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Brianne Shock & Ashley Felcyn
Chippewa Valley’s Kulczycki had been strictly a backstroker until this year when she decided to give the sprints a try. It turned out to be a good decision because she won the 50 freestyle in a close race with Fraser’s Grace Pytell and Regina’s Suzie Lessnau.“I never swam the 50 until this year,” Kulczycki said. “The backstroke was getting kind of old and I’m not a distance swimmer, so I decided it would be fun to see if I could sprint. It was something different. It worked out pretty well.” Kulczycki said there’s a fine line between winning in the 50 and finishing off the pace.“You have to make sure you come off the walls,” she said. “The beginning and the middle, that’s what really matters. There’s no room for error. It’s all or nothing.”
A pair of L’Anse Creuse swimmers repeated as champions in their events. Nichole Contesti won the 100 butterfly for the second year in a row and Nicole Hranchook made it two straight wins in the 100 breaststroke. The butterfly was one of the closest races in the meet with Contesti holding off Shock, Danielle Stahr of Stevenson and Eisenhower’s Natalie Rembisz. Less than a second separated the top four swimmers.“It was way closer than last year,’” Contesti said. “I was nervous the whole time. I knew it would be a really tough race and we all did really well. They were good competitors, I’m just glad I got first.”Contesti admitted she sneaked a peek to see what was happening on either side of her.“I looked over. That’s my problem,” she said. “On the last leg I could see how close it was. I said, ‘I’ve got to go.’ So I put my head down and said, ‘OK. Now finish.’ And I did finish.”Contesti said that she had improved since last year.“We’re working harder than last year,” she said. “I know I’ve gained muscle. Mentally, my brain is stronger. I know this is going to be a good year for me at states.”Hranchook said she went into her event with a positive attitude after finishing third in the 200 IM.“The energy was up and I was excited to race,” she said “All I can do is try my hardest and it worked out well for me again this year.” The breaststroke is a difficult stroke to master, but Hranchook seems to have done a pretty good job of it.“It’s a different stroke,” she said. “You can’t really just go faster by moving your legs and arms faster. It’s more about technique.”And no single technique works for everybody.“I’ve seen different swimmers with different techniques,” Hranchook said. “It’s just what works for you and makes you go faster.”
One of the biggest improvements from last year’s meet to this year’s was by L’Anse Creuse North diver Taylor Zablocki. She finished 12th as a freshman last year, but was a runaway winner this year with a total score of 405.30 points.“She did club diving over the summer and that helped her out,” said LCN diving coach Jerry Bondy. “She put more into it. I can’t be prouder of her.” Zablocki took command of the event with an excellent score on her first dive of the finals.“That was the best dive she’s ever done in competition,” Bondy said. “I knew she could do it because she does it in practice."That’s exactly what Zablocki told herself when she stepped on the board for the first time Saturday.“I tried to relax and tell myself, ‘just do it like you do it in practice,’ and I nailed it,” she said. “That was the best I’ve scored all year. I just felt totally right in the air.” Zablocki admitted she was surprised to finish with more than 400 points.“That’s pretty good for a sophomore,” she said. “I’m so excited.”Bondy and Zablocki both think that being exposed to different coaches has aided her improvement.“She understands more of what I’m saying because she hears it from other coaches,” Bondy said.“It’s different styles of coaching, but I can put them together and it works,” Zablocki added.
While the Pugh sisters are the obvious leaders of the Dakota team, it takes more than that to finish second in the county meet.“We’re very lucky to have two swimmers like Hannah and Marah,” said Cougars coach Heather Maul-Villerot. “We’ve had hard practices all week and for them to come here and perform like that; I’m proud of them. But we talk all the time that it doesn’t take one or two persons to win a meet. It takes the whole team.”Two of Dakota’s younger swimmers impressed their coach with their efforts in the county meet.“Katie Hennells is a freshman and she stepped up in the IM and the 100 breast,” Maul-Villerot said. “And Kayla Giese had a personal best in the 500 free.”
Romeo coach Sue Trush couldn’t have been happier with the third-place trophy the Bulldogs took home.“My goal was to finish in the top six,” she said. “To finish in the top three is great for us. We have a lot of young kids, but today the veterans came through. A lot of seniors did well in their last county meet.” Trush singled out captains Nicole Meiner, Kendal Novak and Jordan James.“A junior, Ashley Dossin broke six minutes in the 500 free,” Trush said. “Elizabeth Fredal was seventh in the backstroke and freshman Lauren Krzemecki had two top fives. That’s awesome for a freshman. “We have no place to go but up. Our pool was closed for about 3 1/2 weeks in the summer so we lost some practice time, but we’re catching up.”
Last Updated: 10/9/2010 9:07:27 PM EST