Back on top again

MSHS dominates pool at U.P. girls swimming finals

Marquette junior Mollie Kilpela, swimming in lane 4 with the light-blue suit, dives off the blocks to start the girls 50-yard freestyle at the Upper Peninsula Finals swim meet held at Marquette Senior High School on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)


Journal Sports Writer

MARQUETTE — It’s been four years, but the Marquette girls swimming and diving team is back on top in the Upper Peninsula in a big way.

In a dominant performance, the Redettes scored 352 points at the MHSAA U.P. Finals on Saturday, finishing a whopping 135 ahead of second-place Kingsford.

Redettes head coach Nathan McFarren struggled to find words to describe how well his team performed.

“It’s been way too long,” he said. “You don’t want to jinx yourself, but I was hoping this was the year because easily, by far, this is the most talented team that Marquette has seen in 12 or 13 years.

“It shows. Three team records and a U.P. (Finals) record in relays. It was a pretty special day.

“We didn’t win every event, but there were many events where we had three participants in the top six. It’s our depth. We did win a lot of events, but that’s not what it was about.

“The one thing we’ve been talking about all year to make this successful is that you have to love and trust yourself, the team and the coach. It all came together today.”

Marquette won the 200-yard medley relay and set a U.P. Finals record in the 400 freestyle relay, along with having three individual champions. Taryn Aho won the 200 free and Erin Vanderschaaf finished on top in the 500 free. Kali McDonough also won the diving competition on Friday.

“In eight years, this is the most special by far,” McFarren said. “When you look at the record board in some of those relay records that we broke ’07, ’05, ’06. We’re looking at 14, 13 and 12 years. It’s pretty special.”

The day may have belonged to the Redettes, but the runner-up Flivvers also had a solid day. Kingsford set a U.P. Finals record in winning the 200 free relay and Peyton Johnson broke the finals record in the 100 backstroke by more than six seconds.

“That’s the highest they’ve ever finished, so that’s like a win for us,” Kingsford head coach Jim Lindstrom said. “Setting records while we did that, it’s amazing.

“One of the big factors is that we had some good girls come from the YMCA and then we had Peyton come back and help set records. So she was a big part of that along with our senior girls.

“It’s drive. It’s totally drive. Those girls challenge each other every day. They work hard and push hard and it got them all the way up there.”

Sault Ste. Marie won four events with Aliah Robertson setting a finals record in the 200 individual medley while also winning the 100 butterfly, and Joanne Arbic finishing first in the both the 50 free and 100 free.

Gladstone’s Sydney Herioux was the other individual champion as she won the 100 breaststroke.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is