Houghton claims U.P. swim finals

MARQUETTE – Trips to the podium weren’t completely absent for the Manistique Emeralds this weekend as they placed in six events in the Upper Peninsula Swimming and Diving Finals.

The Emeralds gained their highest finish on Saturday from the girls’ 200-yard freestyle relay, which came out of the slower heat to place fourth. They were seeded seventh coming into the meet.

“We knew they would move up,” said Emeralds’ coach Beth Aldrich. “We knew their times would drop and as it turned out, they exceeded expectations. We told the girls they could do it. They had been doing it in practice. What’s nice about this team is we have three coming back next year. Now, it’s just a matter of finding a fourth person.”

Houghton won for the first time in 12 years with 339 points, ending Marquette’s 11-year championship reign. The Redettes were runners-up this time at 319 and Manistique was seventh with 70.

Graduating from Manistique’s 200 freestyle relay unit is senior Sam Stoll, who was joined by juniors Genna Rice, Morgan Kangas and freshman Allison Halpin.

Kangas also helped the Emeralds place sixth in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.

Stoll and Halpin were also in the 400 freestyle event with senior Carolyn Mooi. Rice helped comprise the 200 medley unit with senior Kelsy Gonyea and freshman Jamie Erickson.

The Sault Ste. Marie boys captured their first title in a decade with 258 points. They were followed by Marquette 225 and Kingsford took third by edging two-time defending champ Houghton 192-190. The Emeralds took eighth at 60.

Kingsford senior Josh Johnson set the pool record in 50 freestyle in 22.02 seconds and won the 100 (49.25).

Manistique junior Robert Ayotte placed sixth Friday in diving with 142.1 points and senior Jared Johnson-Helman was sixth in 100 backstroke in one minute, 10.45 seconds on Saturday.

They also joined senior Adam LaVance and junior P.J. Birr in the 400 freestyle relay, which also took sixth.

“Overall, our kids did fine,” said Aldrich. “It was nice to see some of them on the podium.”

Next year’s U.P. Swim Finals will be held in Houghton.