Winning a state championship in anything is a monumental task – winning one three years in a row is a dynasty. And Dexter coach Michael McHugh and his outstanding coaching staff has built a dynasty that just continues to find ways to win on the biggest day of the year.
The Dexter swimming and diving team won its third straight Division 2 State Championship last Saturday at Oakland University as the Dreadnaughts swam off with a first-place 241.5 points. Rochester Adams placed second with 220 points followed by Birmingham Groves (191), De La Salle Collegiate (190) and Birmingham Seaholm (183).
McHugh said the key is having confidence that the road map leads to a championship – you just have to climb on board, do the work and follow the road.
“The biggest thing for us is to believe in what we’ve done,” McHugh said. “Believe in the training, believe in the taper and believe in each other. They’ve been here before so they didn’t panic and were able to stay relaxed, have some fun and swim fast.”
McHugh passes all the credit to “the kids.”
“They believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “They’ve bought into the program and training, knowing that in the end it’ll pay off and they’ll be able to accomplish their individual and team goals.”
It was a close race for the Dreadnaughts and McHugh wasn’t comfortable until the final event took center stage.
“Not until the 400 free relay,” he said when asked when he was comfortable his Dreads had it won. “It was really close throughout the meet, going back and forth with Adams. After the breaststroke, I knew as long as we were safe with our starts we would win.”
How was this title compared to the other two championships?
“Each one is different, but this one may have been the most stressful,” McHugh said. “With the meet flow and having Adams right there all day, there was never a time to relax. We always had to be ready to perform and thankfully the guys did. They were just outstanding this weekend.”
The SEC certainly proved to be one of the best – if not the best – swimming conferences in the state. Skyline won the Division 1 meet with Pioneer sixth and Saline eighth.
“I think this area loves swimming,” McHugh said. “It starts with the WISC program in the summer where most of the kids get their start. From there, we have multiple club programs with great coaching that helps develop these kids so that when they enter high school, they’re ready to contribute.
“I also think there is a tradition of great swimming in Washtenaw County and as kids are moving up the ladder, they see their older siblings or friends do great things and they want to be a part of that.”
Dexter opened the meet by taking fifth place in the medley relay. The team of Alex Shehab, Sam Krahn, Stephen Sterlitz and Tanner Sharp touched in 1:35.95.
Dexter junior Niklas Eberly won the 200 free with a time of 1:40.16, just ahead of De La Salle’s Daniel Frederick (1:40.22). Dexter junior Casey Dolen was fifth in 1:41.13.
Freshman Clayton Kinnard was 11th in the individual medley in 1:59.17.
Sterlitz, a senior, sprinted to a fourth-place finish in the 50 free in 21.40. Sharp was 15th in 22.19.
Eberly returned to the winner’s circle with a first-place finish in the 100 butterfly with a time of 48.33, beating out Seaholm’s Michael Arpasi (50.23). Sterlitz placed fifth in 51.93.
In the 100 free, Shehab placed 10th in 47.42. Sam Krahn was 30th (49.74) and Michael Baumann was 32nd (49.90).
The Dexter foursome of Eberly, Sharp, Sterlitz and Dolen took first place in the 200 free relay in 1:24.95. Midland Dow was second in 1:25.19.
In the backstroke, Shehab swam second in 50.61 while Kinnard was 15th in 55.39.
Krahn was 11th in the breaststroke with a time of 1:00.16 while Sharp was 16th in 1:01.52. Paul Schaefer was 20th with a prelim time of 1:01.88.
The Dexter foursome of Eberly, Shehab, Kinnard and Dolen placed second in 3:07.76.