MARQUETTE - Kingsford High School senior Josh Johnson of Kingsford was a double winner Saturday in the U.P. Swimming & Diving Championships.
Johnson beat out Daniel Shonnard of Houghton in the 50 free (22:02) and 100 free (49.25), setting a pool record in the shorter event in 22.02 seconds.
"This season has gone well," said Johnson, who plans to enroll at Michigan Tech this fall. "I've made more friends from other teams. It's a lot of fun competing with people I know. Daniel has been pushing me all year. We're so close and we're both seniors. We're in the same position. It's not a rivalry. It's just fun competition."
Matt Keiser/The Mining Journal Photo
Kingsford’s Pasha Hammar pushes to the finish during the boys 200-yard IM at Marquette Senior High School during the MHSAA U.P. Swimming & Diving Finals.
Now a competitive swimmer for 12 years, the Flivvers senior has lost just one race the past two years, according to his coach Keith Freeman - to Colin MacQuarrie of Sault Ste. Marie in the 50 free at the 2012 U.P. Finals.
"Josh is impressive with his performances and his work ethic," Freeman said. "I wish I had 10 of them like him. He's polite and a leader by example. Our swimmers really look up to him."
Kingsford's Pasha Hammar placed second in 200 IM and third in 100 butterfly.
Sault Ste. Marie won its first boys U.P. championship since 2003. The Blue Devils got a little unexpected help, however, in a 258-225 decision over runner-up and host Marquette Senior High School.
The Redmen were without the services of top freshman swimmer Sam Williams, who had the flu.
"That cost us 30 points," MSHS coach Nate McFarren said.
In addition, the Marquette 200-yard medley relay team - seeded second - suffered a disqualification when No. 2 swimmer Nathan Rotundo was deemed to have left the blocks early.
"First place is 32 points and that's a major difference right there," McFarren said. "It was our first event and took some wind out of our sails."
The MSHS coach defended Rotundo, a sophomore.
"Nathan doesn't false start. He's a calculated individual. He's very regimented and disciplined," McFarren said. "It was hard on him at first, but he rebounded nicely (later).
"I don't want to take anything away from the Sault, but my boys were ready to win today."
Kingsford came in third (192) and Houghton fourth (190) in the nine-team competition.
Marquette's 11-year U.P. win streak came to an end Saturday. Houghton, claiming five events, ended the Redettes' long domination with a 339-319 victory at the MSHS pool.
"It's pretty overwhelming," Gremlins' third-year head coach Roger Woods said of his school's first U.P. girls' crown since 2001.Kingsford's Maria Pirkola took third with a personal best in 50 freestyle.
"Maria Pirkola had a great swim in the 50 free, but due to a goggle malfunction she just missed a personal time in the 100 free," Freeman said.
"Swimming the 100 in a 1:10.28 without goggles is nothing to be ashamed of. I would have loved to see what she could have swam with goggles on."
Freeman was also impressed with Hammar; Tanner Walsh's 100 butterfly, David Plumley's 100 breaststroke, boys 400 free relay team of Tanner Walsh, Aaron Pope, Leo Stelmaszek and Plumley, and the girls 200 medley relay of Michelle Scheibe, Lacey Walsh, Pirkola and Catherine Peters.
"All these swimmers earned medals and exceeded where they were seeded to place," Freeman said. "I was really impressed at how well everyone did this season. They worked extremely hard at practice the last two weeks to achieve these times."
The team banquet will be held Wednesday "where we will be honoring everyone's achievements and our 14 seniors and exchange students who will not be joining us again next season," Freeman said.
(The Mining Journal of Marquette and John Vrancic of the MHSAA contributed to this story)
Flivver medal winners from the U.P. meet:
Pasha Hammar - second, 200 IM, 3rd place in the 100 Butterfly
Josh Johnson - UP champion, 50 Free and 100 Free
Maria Pirkola - third, 50 Free and 6th place in 100 Free
David Plumley - fifth, 100 Breaststroke
Tanner Walsh - fourth, 100 Butterfly, 6th place in the 500 Free
Girls 200 Medley Relay - fourth, Scheibe, Walsh, Pirkola & Peters
Boys 200 Medley Relay - fourth, Raboin, Holmes, Hammar, Johnson.
Girls 200 Free Relay - sixth, Berger, Peters, Scheibe, Pirkola
Boys 200 Free Relay - fourth, Hammar, Raboin, Holmes, Johnson.
Boys 400 Free Relay - third, Walsh, Pope, Stelmaszek, Plumley.