Kelly Hill

Sports Scene

HOLLAND – After finishing third in the backstroke at last year’s Division 2 state championship meet, Adam Marsh of Okemos set a 2012 state championship as his goal.

 After finishing third as a team at last year’s Division 2 state championship meet, Dexter set a 2012 state championship as its goal.

 Marsh, a junior at Okemos, as well as the Dexter Dreadnaughts, all accomplished their goals March 10 in the Division 2 boys’ state swimming and diving championship at Holland Aquatic Center.

Marsh won the state championship in the 100-yard backstroke with a personal-best time of 50.83 seconds. He edged runner-up Jason Wesseling of Jenison by 1.31 seconds. Marsh posted a time of 52.12 seconds in Friday’s preliminaries.

“This was my best time by a little over a second, but I really wanted to win the backstroke,” Marsh said. “I thought I could do it and I pushed really hard. The other guys in the race hadn’t beaten me for a while, so I felt good coming into the race. I didn’t worry too much about the other guys, I just focused on my own race and what I needed to do. I focused on my turns and my start, and I knew I needed to keep my tempo up. Being third last year, I’m happy to be able to win it this year.”

Dexter, which finished behind state champion Birmingham Seaholm and runner-up Birmingham Groves last year, won this year’s meet with 320 points, 21.5 points better than runner-up Groves and 66 points better than Seaholm, which finished third this year. The host Dutch of Holland High School finished fourth with 200 points.

With a roster that included 10 seniors, the Dreadnaughts won the state title despite winning only one event at the finals. Dexter won the 200-yard freestyle relay with a Division 2-record time of 1 minute, 24.66 seconds. The old record of 1:24.71 was set by Battle Creek Lakeview in 2010. Dexter’s state-championship relay featured seniors Mark Brown, John Eber, and Nate Kilian and junior Brennan Maisch.

“We are a really close-knit group, and we push each other to our limit at practice,” Kilian said. “Coach McHugh pushes us hard, some might say too hard, but he is a smart man. We have 12 seniors all together on this team, and we’ve been swimming together since we were in the seventh grade. We all enjoy winning. Groves is an amazing team and they swam great today; we are lucky to have 12 seniors and lots of fast juniors.”

According to Mike McHugh, who was named the Division 2 Coach of the Year, Dexter’s 12 senior were no ordinary seniors. “This is a special group,” he said of them. “In my opinion, this is the best senior class Dexter has ever had. They put the work in that they had to do in order to win this today.

“This has been a goal of ours since we were third last year,” McHugh added. “This trophy is for all of them, from the bottom to the top, because you don’t get to the top except by being pushed from the bottom.”

The title is Dexter’s second. The Dreadnaughts also won in 1999. “You can’t feel confident when Groves and Seaholm are breathing down your neck,” McHugh said. “This is a special, special group, though, and this is a senior class that cannot be replaced.”