By Jason Wesseldyk
BATTLE CREEK—The Allegan girls swim & dive team made it through the dual-meet portion of the SCC schedule unbeaten.
At the Conference Championships on Thursday, Nov. 2, and Friday, Nov. 3, the Tigers proved that regular-season success was no fluke.
The Tigers won six of the 12 events and cruised to first-place honors with 461 points.
Plainwell was runner-up with 359 points. Otsego placed fourth with 331.5 points, just a half point behind third-place Sturgis.
The rest of the field was Marshall (293), South Haven (290), Harper Creek (230.5) and Hastings (22).
Allegan coach Carol Gephart attributed much of her team’s success to the strong bond the team members have forged.
“What sets our team apart is not only our talent, but the unwavering support and camaraderie that define our team culture,” she said. “Our athletes are not just teammates; they are like family, and that bond fuels their success.”
The Tigers didn’t wait long to set the tone for the meet. The 200-yard medley relay—the first event—saw Allegan post a winning time of 1:51.78 that not only set a new school record, but also a new meet and pool record.
“That was the highlight of the meet,” Gephart said.
That relay team consisted of Mikayla Reimink, Lizzy Ehrich, Eliza DeLaet and Bella Festerling.
DeLaet and Reimink also teamed with Maddie Antkoviak and Nolynn Coombs to win the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.27), with the Allegan team of Antkoviak, Lilli Kelley, Coombs and Festerling winning the 400 free relay (3:46.56).
Reimink also won two individual events, taking the 100 butterfly (1:00.33) and the 100 backstroke (59.53). Antkoviak accounted for the other individual victory for the Tigers, as she won the 200 free (2:01.89).
“We’re already looking ahead to the State Meet in just two weeks,” Gephart said. “Our team’s resiliency, mental toughness, talent and unwavering dedication will continue to drive us forward.
“Our goal is clear: to bring the same spirit and determination to the State Meet, aiming for even greater success.”
Sydney Harper had the best performance for Plainwell. In addition to winning the 500 free at 5:33.01, Harper was second in the 200 IM (2:20.05).
“I am really proud of how well our team stepped up and really pulled it together at the end to secure second place,” Plainwell coach Andrea Murphy said.
The Trojans were in fifth place with four events to go, and Plainwell trailed Sturgis by a point entering the final event, the 400 free relay.
“We were able to get two 400 free relays in the top eight, with our A relay finished second and our B relay team beating the Sturgis relay team and that secured the second-place finish,” Murphy said. “Sturgis had an amazing season and swam really well both days. It was challenging for all the teams to swim so late on Friday.”
Hope Stender was the standout for Otsego. She placed second in both the 200 IM (2:05.4) and the 500 free (5:36.94).