While Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook swimmers put on a show at the Division 3 prelims at Eastern Michigan University this afternoon, the Cranes are striving to be even faster in Saturday’s finals.
“The mind-set is that nothing is going to be given to us,” senior Giorgio DelGrosso said. “We have to work for everything and anything we want. Our coach makes sure that we think that way too. We’re looking for faster swimming, dropping more spots if we can, doing anything we can to try and three-peat.”
So far, Cranbrook’s quest for its third straight state title is off to a great start. Based on Friday’s performances, the Cranes placed 18 swimmers in today’s championship heats and eight more in the consolation swims — far more than any other school.
“It was a good day, it was a very good day; we’re very happy,” Cranbrook coach Chris Bagley said. “Four guys in the breaststroke, all the relays in the top three. … I can go on and on about all the stuff we did today; it was really exciting.”
DelGrosso, who aims to defend his state title in the breaststroke, has the top time in that race (56.17). He also anchored the medley relay, which ranks first at 1:34.59.
“We could never have expected this; it couldn’t have gone any better,” DelGrosso said. “A lot of people finished in the top eight and are making it back (Saturday), so that was a really big factor for us.”
His breaststroke ability rubbed off on his teammates, as Cranbrook swimmers are ranked first, fourth, sixth and seventh in that race. It’s just one of the Cranes’ power events, as they also have multiple championship-heat qualifiers in the 200 freestyle, the individual medley, the 500 and the backstroke.
“The 500 we were really solid in last year, we had four in there last year, but in the breaststroke we just had a great group of guys that were always pushing each other every day in practice,” Bagley said. “It was nice having Giorgio out front to lead those guys. Everyone was always gunning for him in practice, and that made it really easy for them to get better and better.”
DelGrosso ranks in the top three in all four of his events. Other Cranbrook swimmers competing in four races Saturday include Spencer Keoleian, Matthew Yang, and Andrew Trunsky. In addition, Oliver Cafferty, Eric Youshao, Lucas Misra and Michael McLaughlin also rank in the top three of at least one event.
“We were expecting to improve our times, but it was a lot faster than my expectations,” Keoleian said. “We haven’t tapered at all this year, so our times haven’t been that fast compared to other teams, so our major time drop takes place at this meet.”
Cranbrook’s biggest push should come from the last school to win Div. 3 before the Cranes’ streak started — East Grand Rapids — although the Pioneers will have to work out of a deficit. East was leading Friday’s first event, the 200 medley relay, before getting disqualified for an early exchange. Cranbrook grabbed the top seed instead.
“I should have gone up to the kid and told him to sit back and take it easy. He got excited, and that’s someplace, as a coach, that I could have made a better move,” East coach Butch Briggs said. “They started out by sticking a fork in their eye, but they came back and swam very well after that, they set several school records.”
The Pioneers top the prelim times in six events. Andy MacGregor leads the two freestyle events he won last year: the 200 (1:40.00) and the 100 (45.31), and anchored the fastest 200 and 400 free relays (a division-record 1:25.14 and 3:11.48). Sophomore Christian Bart has the time to beat in the individual medley (1:51.80).
Defending champions made their marks in the remaining races. Chelsea’s Joey Mangner was the fastest in the 50 (20.82), Hamilton’s Alec Nyboer tops the butterfly (49.45), and Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Joey Puglessi paces the backstroke (a division-record 49.89). Cranbrook’s Trunsky stands second to Holland Christian sophomore Skyler Cook-Weeks in the 500 (4:33.46).
When: Saturday (finals).
Where: Div. 1 — Holland Aquatics; Div. 2 — Saginaw Valley State; Div. 3 — Eastern Michigan.