Annette Schultz didn’t swim the backstroke but she literally put the Dreadnaughts on her back and helped carry Dexter to the school’s second girls’ state swimming and diving championship on Saturday at Oakland University in Rochester Hills.
Schultz was named Swimmer of the Meet during the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 state finals. Only a sophomore, Schultz won both the 100 freestyle and the 200 freestyle, swam on the winning 200 free relay and anchored the meet-clinching 400-yard freestyle relay team which placed third and collected 32 points to give Dexter 256 points, just five more than East Grand Rapids.
Heading into that last event, Dexter needed a fifth-place or better finish to top East Grand Rapids, which won the final event to pick up 40 points.
Forest Hills Central was third (247) as those three teams dominated much of the meet. Bloomfield Hills Marian was a distant fourth with 214.5 points.
Lizzy Merriman, who ended her brilliant career in style, was Dexter’s other individual winner on the day. The talented senior took first place in the breaststroke with a time of 1:03.68 to edge Allie Russell of Seaholm (1:03.93).
While Schultz and Merriman won gold and stole the show, this state title was a team effort from the start of practice in August to hoisting the state trophy into the air on Saturday. Dexter’s depth was the difference in the end as they picked up valuable points throughout the meet with multiple double top-10 finishes. Those points made the difference in the end.
Dexter took the lead right from the first splash as the team of Schultz, Merriman, Kate Mesaros and Gretchen Schultz took first in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:44.21. They just beat out Seaholm, which placed a close second in 1:45.10.
Schultz was right back on the champion’s podium after her win in the 200 free. She went 1:47.89 to take first, beating out Rochester Adam’s Claire McGinnis (1:51.24). Dexter’s Sarah Zofchak was 14th for the Dreads.
Merriman took third in the individual medley with a time of 2:05.50 in a very close touch at the end. Nicole Pape of Adams finished in 2:05.12 to edge Merriman for second. It doesn’t get much closer than that. Kate Mesaros was eighth in 2:09.49 to pick up 11 valuable points and Amelia Kinnard was 10th in 2:10.36 for seven more points. The trio picked up 34 points for the Dreads.
Senior Gretchen Schultz finished eighth in the 50 free with a time of 24.24 to pick up another 11 points. In a close meet, all the points matter.
After getting shutout in the diving and the butterfly, Annette Schultz won the 100 free in 50.34. Gretchen placed 10th in 53.30 to give the sisters – and the Dreads – 27 huge points. Sarah Lynch placed 16th to add another point to the total.
Grace Kacmarek, another talented sophomore on the Dexter roster, went 5:12.24 to place seventh in the 500 freestyle. Sarah Zofchak, see comment in previous sentence about talented sophomores, was 11th in 5:10.72.
The 200 free relay team of Gretchen Schultz, Hannah Quist, Merriman and Mesaros splashed up a fifth-place finish in 1:37.57 to rack up 28 more points.
Sophomore Amelia Kinnard brought home six crucial points by placing 11th in the 100 backstroke with a time of 58.17.
As Merriman took first in the breaststroke, Mesaros was third in 1:04.15 to give Dexter two in the top three and 36 huge points.
In that final 400 free relay, the team of Lynch, Zofchak, Kinnard and Annette Schultz touched third and the Dreads then touched the D-2 State Title trophy.