MARQUETTE - Marquette Senior High School has a chance to add to its tradition of winning at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Swimming and Diving Championships this weekend.
But despite splashing around in its home pool for the first time in these finals since 2010, it won't come easy thanks to schools like Houghton and Sault Ste. Marie at this nine-team meet.
The Redmen and Redettes together have won 43 U.P. titles in records that date back to 1980, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association website, www.mhsaa.com. They're almost equally split, with the boys taking 22 and girls 21.
But the Redettes have a big streak on the line when the event opens with the girls' diving at 2:45 p.m. Friday - they're the 11-time girls defending champions going back to 2002.
The Redmen, meanwhile, will try to dethrone Houghton, which has won the last two U.P. boys titles and broke a four-year run by Marquette that had also included a streak of 18 boys titles in 20 years.
Following boys' diving set to commence around 4 p.m. Friday, the swimming events take place all day Saturday, with a tight schedule of 24 events set to be run from 10 a.m. to around 3:45 p.m.
Admission for spectators is $7 each day, which will also include access to watching events in the school's theater on a big screen, according to event coordinator Matthew Williams. He's also a former MSHS swimming and diving coach.
"We usually can follow that schedule pretty closely, even with awards presentations at the end of every event," he said.
Last year in Sault Ste. Marie, the Marquette girls scored 297 points to 273 for runner-up Houghton, with the GRIMN co-op team from Ishpeming, Negaunee, Gwinn and Republic-Michigamme coming in fourth.
On the boys side, the Gremlins edged the host Blue Devils, 315.5-311, with the Redmen a distant third and GRIMN fifth.
This year, GRIMN has transformed into Ishpeming-Negaunee, while other area schools represented will be Westwood and Manistique. The field is rounded out by Kingsford, Rudyard and Hancock-Jeffers.
Marquette has multiple No. 1 swimming seeds, based on times recorded during the season, from each of its teams.
For the girls, they include the 200-yard medley and 400 freestyle relays, along with Katy Beckstrom in the 200 freestyle and Janelle Carroll in the 500 freestyle.
Among boys, there's Nathan Rotundo in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, plus Sam Williams in the 100 butterfly.
I-N also has a No. 1 seed, Ricky Peterson in the boys 100 backstroke and a handful of others in the top-six in their events.
Westwood's top representatives are two of its girls relays, the No. 3 200 freestyle and No. 4 200 medley, while for Manistique, its best hopes ride with a pair of No. 7 seeds in the 100 backstroke - Sam Stoll on the girls side and Jared Johnson-Helman for the boys.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.