Sault tops Marquette for U.P. boys swim title

MARQUETTE – Sault Ste. Marie won its first boys MHSAA Upper Peninsula swimming and diving championship since 2003 on Saturday.

The Blue Devils got a little unexpected help, however, in a 258-225 decision over runnerup 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.

The Blue Devils won just one event Saturday, with senior Bryan Colborn taking the 100 butterfly in 1:01.82.

But that, combined with team depth and the 37 points the Sault gained in taking first in diving Friday, enabled the U.P. school to claim the crown.

“I’m surprised about winning,” first-year head coach Denise Mayer said. “We have a very young team and a small number of boys. I thought it would be a rebuilding year.

“(But) every one of them stepped up to the plate and brought their A game to the program. I’m proud of all of them.

“Every one of them improved their times today, from two seconds up to 8-9,” she added. “Colborn swam the 100 butterfly eight seconds better than he ever has before.”

Rotundo paced the Redmen with individual wins in the 200 IM (2:08.80) and 100 breaststroke (1:03.33). He also swam a leg of the winning 400 freestyle relay (3:44.41).

“I was four seconds faster in the breaststroke today,” he said. “It’s my best event and I really wanted to drop my time.

“In the 200 IM, I’ve been working hard on that race all year, especially my backstroke.”

Added McFarren: “Nathan’s incredible. He was less than two seconds away from breaking a school, pool and U.P. record in the 100 breaststroke.”

Josh Johnson of Kingsford and James DeClerck of Houghton also won two events.

Johnson captured the 50 free (22:02) and 100 free (49.25) in spirited competition with Houghton’s Daniel Shonnard, who placed second in both.

DeClerck, meanwhile, claimed the 200 free (1:52.52) and 500 free (5:08.30). He also swam with the Gremlins’ winning 200 free relay unit (1:35.00).

Ishpeming-Negaunee’s Ricky Peterson took the 100 backstroke (1:01.84) for the sixth-place combined team. I-N finished with 121 points, 22 ahead of Westwood.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is