Cory Bergen couldn’t have been any more proud of this 2015 Dexter swimming and diving team. It’s easy to be proud when your team swims to a state championship. But it’s more than that for the longtime and successful Dexter coach.
“This is truly a byproduct of how we supported each other all year,” Bergen said after his team won the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 state finals at Oakland University on Saturday. “We train hard, we respect the process of trying to improve and this team did that to the max.”
The only way to win a state title in swimming is the team way. And Dexter took that blueprint all the way to the top. While a few swimmers took gold and had huge days, others filled the lanes of success.
Sarah Zofchak, Grace Kacmarek, Amelia Kinnard, Sarah Lynch and Hannah Quist all contributed points on the second day of the finals for the first time at a state meet.
“They were all part of last year’s team that finished fourth and were key in joining our returning scorers in putting us over the top,” said Bergen, who was named Division 2 State Swim Coach of the Year.
It was Dexter’s second state swimming title and first since 2002.
The Dreads spent the season adding wins and dropping times with one eye on the big prize in November. They came into the state finals ranked fourth but knew if they swam to their potential the meet was there for the taking.
But the overall approach was more along the lines of “just do our best.”
“We knew we had a special team and had pointed to this meet all year, but we didn’t really have any specific expectations other than to swim fast on Friday and see where that put us,” Bergen said. “When that put us in a group right at the top, we embraced the challenge and took it home from there.”
After that opening statement on Friday the Dreads went into Saturday with a game plan.
“I told the team to approach the second day like a tough dual meet that we expected could go either way,” Bergen said. “Let’s go out and win the medley relay, get some momentum and then have everyone battle to hold their place or move up in their heats all day long. If we are still close at the end, we have the best breaststroke tandem in the state and a great 400 free relay to seal the deal. As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened.”
Annette Schultz had a phenomenal day for Dexter. Only a sophomore, she won two individual events (200 free, 100 free), breaking Dexter varsity records in both events. She was .01 off the state record in the 200 free, was a member of the winning 200 medley relay (varsity record) and was named Division 2 Swimmer of the year.
Not a bad day.
Senior co-captain Lizzy Merriman set a school varsity record in her first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke. She also broke the varsity record with her third-place finish in the 200 IM.
Senior co-captain Kate Mesaros was All-State in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
Schultz, Merriman and Mesaros were each All-State in four events.
Gretchen Schultz (50 free) and Grace Kacmarek (500 free) were All-State for the first time in their careers.
In all, Dexter broke seven varsity records at the meet: 200 medley relay, 200 free (A. Schultz), 200 IM (Merriman), 100 free (A. Schultz), 200 free relay, 100 breast (Merriman) and the 400 free relay.
It also was a team effort with the coaching staff.
Assistant coach Adrienne Woods did an outstanding job with the team especially in coordinating their dryland conditioning and helping with all aspects of technique work.
“Adrienne was a legendary swimmer in our program, swam for the University of Texas in college, and is in a unique position to help us out while working on her Phd. at the University of Michigan,” Bergen said. “We were state runner-up all four of her years in high school so it seems appropriate that she is finally part of a state champion team now here at Dexter.”