Analysis: Depth led Dreads to back-to-back swim titles

The Dexter swimming and diving team trailed first-place Ann Arbor Huron by 12.5 points after the 100 freestyle and the Dreadnaughts knew right then that they had their SEC rival right where they wanted them during Saturday’s Division 2 state finals at EMU.

Because in the next event, the Dreads sent five swimmers into the water for the 500 freestyle. And those five – Janosi fifth (4:36.39), Mitchell Houghtaling sixth (4:42.96), Golin seventh (4:47.64), Casey Dolen 10th (4:45.09) and Sam Latshaw 13th (4:47.34) – combined for 50 points and turned a 12.5 deficit into a 37.5 lead. Game, set, match.

“At that point I knew as long as we were mistake free we would win,” said Dexter Coach Michael McHugh. “It really played out exactly how we thought it would.”

The Dreadnaughts went “mistake free” the rest of the way to finish with 284 points to win their second consecutive state championship.

Huron took second with 256.5 points followed by Birmingham Seaholm (195.5), Birmingham Groves (189) and De La Salle (187).

“Going in, we knew we’d have a chance to compete with Huron and Groves for the championship,” McHugh said. “We knew it would be a close meet, possibly coming down to the last relay to decide the champion.

“I told the guys that all we can control is our swimming and not to worry about what other teams were doing, that was my job and they responded with a great prelims session putting us in a dog fight with Huron on Saturday.”
McHugh said the medley relay, 200 free and 500 free were key events for Dexter. This year’s team was built on depth and the Dreads knew they would have to score big in the events they had the most entries in like the 200 and 500 free.

“The medley is always key,” McHugh said. “I always say that if we have a good medley we’re going to have a good day and that’s what happened.”

Dexter’s medley relay team of Alex Shehab, Sam Krahn, Niklas Eberly and Alex Janosi took first in 1:34.42 and picked up 40 points on Saturday after taking the top seed on Friday.

“That really gave us a shot of adrenaline and fired everyone up,” McHugh said.

“And the 200 and 500 are events that we’ve typically done very well in and this year was no exception. Scoring four guys in the 200 and five in the 500. Those two events contributed 89 total points, with another 104 points from relays. So those two events made up over half of our individual scoring.”

With the finish, Dexter won back-to-back state championships for the first time in school history.

“This is special for these guys to accomplish something no other team has before,” said McHugh, who was honored as D2 Coach of the Year. “The program continues to build on its own successes and hopefully we can keep competing for championships in the years to come.”

And the Dreadnaughts of 2017 overcame the loss of some talented seniors from the previous year’s state title run.

“We lost a great senior class last year but had a bunch of guys returning that had state meet experience,” McHugh said. “We realized early that we weren’t going to be able to replace those guys, but we could fill in with the next wave and be OK.

“Some of those seniors were at the meet supporting this group of guys which was great to see. We’ve built a family atmosphere within the program and each group of seniors wants the next group to be successful and comes back to support them each year.”

Dexter took 11 guys to the state meet and all 11 guys scored points for the team individually.

“It was the first time in my time that every guy at the meet swam in finals,” McHugh said. “It was our depth that won this meet for us and without a total team effort it wouldn’t have been possible.”

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