State swimming finals: Pioneer caps challenging season with state championship

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

They didn’t know if they’d have a season. Then, they didn’t know if they’d have a chance to finish the season they had started.

And heading into Saturday, they didn’t know if they could finish the way they wanted.


But the Ann Arbor Pioneer girls swim team eventually erased all doubt about the 2020 Division 1 Final in Hudsonville, blowing its competition out of the water to unseat three-time defending champion Farmington Hills Mercy with a state championship win at Hudsonville High School.

“I think most people didn’t know how it was going to go,” Pioneer coach Stefanie Kerska said.

“But I think everybody was just so grateful to have the opportunity to finish off the season and get a little bit of closure. We certainly were super grateful to get the chance. We just wanted to finish it off.”

And that they did, topping second-place Mercy by a score of 368-184. 

Lily Cramer, Amelia Weyhing, Autumn Bullinger and Sophia Guo helped pick up a win in the 200 freestyle relay. Weyhing, Cramer, Vivian VanRenterghem and Stella Chapman added a relay win in the 400 freestyle. Sam Quoia, Edwina Jalet, Chapman and Guo won the 200 medley relay.

VanRenterghem (200 freestyle) and Chapman (100 backstroke) each picked up first-place finishes, individually.

Kerska said she thought her team had a chance to win states for virtually the whole season, but was unsure of how it would perform without the ability to meet in person while MHSAA activities were suspended.

She added that not knowing whether States would take place made it difficult for her to keep pushing the girls.

“You kind of have the fine line that you don’t want to cross,” Kerska said. “I didn’t want to encourage them so much, and then have nothing be there at the end. But I also wanted to make sure that they were accountable, and if they did have a restart, that they would be ready. It was a fine dance that we played to make sure they would be ready.”

Division 2

Birmingham Seaholm repeated as team state champions on Saturday at Grand Rapids Northview High School, finishing with a final score of 309 to top Rochester Adams (263) and Northview (174).

Seaholm finished second in the 200 medley relay, then sewed up the win with two big relay wins in the final four events. Eliza Dixon, Samantha Clifford, Carly Burry and Megan Clifford took first in the 200 Freestyle and Samantha and Megan, Lauren Louwers, and Katherine Stanley earned a win in the meet’s final event, the 400 freestyle.

Portage Northern sophomore Hannah Williams took first-place finishes in the 200 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke.

Division 3

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood took first place at Lake Orion High School, finishing with a score of 379 to defeat Hamilton High School (199) and Birmingham Marian (192). 

Justin Murdock, Serena Hao, Hale Oal, and Allison O’Donnell took first for Cranbrook in the 200 medley relay. Oal, Charlotte DeSantos, Charlotte Trunsky and Gwen Woodbury took first in the 200 freestyle relay. DeSantos, Trunsky, Murdock and Woodbury helped Cranbrook claim first in the meet’s final event, the 400 freestyle relay.

Cranbrook’s name graced the top of the leaderboard in multiple individual events as well. Murdock had first-place finishes in the 100 backstroke and the 200 intramural. Woodbury took first in the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle.

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.