Halpin paces Emeralds girls with four medals

MARQUETTE – Sophomore Allison Halpin became Manistique’s most frequent visitor to the podium in Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Swimming Finals, placing in four events at the Marquette High School pool.

Halpin was runner-up in the 50-yard freestyle race in a school-record 26.72 seconds and placed third in 100 freestyle in a school-best 1:01.1.

“I wasn’t as nervous as I was up here last year,” said Halpin, who also anchored the third-place 200 freestyle relay and fifth-place 400 freestyle unit. “Last year was my first ever in competitive swimming and I found this meet to be very intense. This is a great confidence boost. This will make me push harder for next year.”

The Marquette girls won for the 12th time in 13 years with 335 points, followed by defending champion Houghton 277 and Rudyard 195. The Emeralds were seventh among nine teams at 82.

“Allison had an outstanding meet,” said Emeralds’ coach Beth Aldrich. “She really believes in herself. She has been able to swim with the frontrunners and compete with them. I was real happy with our 200 freestyle relay. All the girls swam their best times.”

Also helping Manistique place in the freestyle relays were senior Morgan Kangas, junior Brittany Zellar and sophomore Cassidy Garvin.

The Marquette boys, who took first in all 11 swimming events, won for the first time in four years with 331 points. They were followed by defending champ Sault Ste. Marie 306 and Kingsford 181. Manistique took seventh at 55.

Marquette had a trio of four-event winners, including senior Tony Lackey, junior Nate Rotundo and sophomore Sam Williams.

Sault grabbed the top three spots in Friday’s diving, led by junior Levi Furr with 186.65 points. Manistique senior Robert Ayotte placed fourth (160.8).

“Robert was solid in diving,” said Aldrich. “Sault has three excellent divers and they’re all coming back next year.”

Ayotte anchored Manistique to a sixth-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay, also comprised of senior P.J. Birr and freshmen Trevor Birr and Caleb Swanson.

“We brought 15 kids total and only three are seniors,” said Aldrich. “We need more balance. We don’t have the numbers to win a meet like this, although we were competitive in some events. Many of the kids swam personal bests, which is always rewarding. We pretty much held our own.”