Lakeview junior John Vann wants to defend his Division 2 state title in the 100-yard butterfly this weekend, but more than that, he hopes other Spartans can join him in making the podium.
Vann will compete at the state finals at Eastern Michigan University, and he said the seventh-ranked Spartans are eying some hardware.
“Our team goal this year is to get a trophy, which is top four. So we’re working really hard to try and get a top four (finish),” Vann said.
“We’re really, really close as a team, we all get together and get each other fired up so that we can all swim fast when the time counts.”
The prelims for the state finals are today, beginning at noon. The top 16 swimmers and divers in each event will advance to Saturday’s finals, also beginning at noon.
To defend his individual state title, Vann will have to swim above his seed, as he was slotted fourth with a qualifying time of 51.82 seconds. Will Walker of White Lake Lakeland owns the top time in the event at 50.40.
“It gives me a lot of confidence going into the state meet because I’m really competitive and I’m up there with the top guys,” said Vann, who in two weeks will compete at the NCSA Championships in Orlando, Fla.
“I’m in there to race and just to have a great meet and be really competitive… There is definitely guys coming after me. There’s definitely going to be a lot of good competition at the state meet this year.”
Lakeview head coach Kyle Lott said that he expects it to be a tight race in the 100 butterfly during the finals on Saturday.
“It’s tough. I think that if anybody can handle it, (Vann) can. He’s a pretty cool customer,” Lott said. “It’s a hard thing to defend any kind of championship. It’s going to be a good race. Everybody that’s in there with him is a pretty darn good swimmer.”
Vann isn’t alone in trying to defend a state title this weekend. At the Division 3 State Final at Holland Aquatics, Marshall junior diver Henry Swett will try to recapture his championship after winning in each of the past two seasons.
“I know there are a couple other strong divers out there,” said Marshall head coach Dave Karns. “Henry’s scores are the highest we’ve seen. But I know there are some kids that are really good divers, and he’s going to have to dive well.”
Lakeview senior Jake Budd also has hopes of bringing home a state title in diving. He’s currently seeded No. 1 in Division 2 after his regional championship score of 421.60. Last season, Budd finished third in the state.
“Jake is the returning No. 1 diver in Division 2. Diving switches around, so his goal is to be in the top eight,” said Lott. “If he gets himself there on the last day, maybe put together three good dives and have a chance at doing something real cool.”
Lakeview’s Scott Carstens also appears to have a chance at a state crown in the 100 backstroke, where he is seeded third. However, his qualifying time of 53.47 is almost three seconds behind top-seeded Jason Wesseling of Jenison.
While swimmers and divers will be going for individual accolades like All-State honors and state championships, Lott said the fact that it’s a team competition that makes the state finals so special.
“There’s nothing like it if you can get up there and start battling as a team for something,” he said. “I really hope that we can get ourselves into position to do that this weekend. Fourth place gets a trophy, and if we can get into a position where we’re in the fifth or sixth place spot in the prelims to make a run at it, that’s when things get pretty cool and pretty neat. I think that would be fun for these guys if we can get there.”