Gremlins swim teams split dual vs. Westwood

HOUGHTON — On Tuesday, the Houghton Gremlins swim teams hosted the Westwood Patriots for a dual meet at the Houghton High School Pool. The boys team defeated the Patriots, 145-15, while the girls came up short, 97-72.

Coach Erik Johnson chalked up the loss on the girls’ side to a large turnover from last year’s group. He is encouraged, however, by the effort they have put in.

“On the girls’ side, we have a lot of new swimmers this year and they have been making a lot of progress early in the season,” he said. “We are always looking for things we can improve on, but I was very impressed with how they stepped up into events that put them out of their comfort zone, and how they supported both our team and the opposing team.”

The 200-yard medley relay saw the quartet of Kaylee Persenaire, Cassandra Steffensen, Leah Komarzec, and Claire Filpus finish in 2:25.26, nearly five seconds behind the Patriots’ top team, but that was a good start, according to Johnson.

From, there, the Gremlins got wins from Elli Wager in the 200-yard freestyle (2:27.82) and the 50-yard freestyle (29.04), Komarzec in the 100-yard butterfly (1:12.61), and Filpus in the 100-yard freestyle (1:09.25).

Kaci Dewar won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 7:31.32 that included a 38.22 opening lap. Dewar was also part of a four-person team that won the 400-yard freestyle relay along with Wagner, Filpus and Komarzec.
“We have a few weeks before our next meet, and we will continue to improve on a few things,” said Johnson. “We had a few girls make the cut times for U.P. Finals, so that was exciting. We have a few more who are very close, so now the work begins. 

“We have some goals and we know the steps we need to take to get there.”

On the boys’ side, the veteran presence the Gremlins have shone through, but Johnson was also quite impressed with some of his younger swimmers.

“On the boys side, we had a strong showing from our returning core of athletes,” he said. “We also had a lot of new athletes step up along the way.”

The team of Conner Holombo, Davin Evans, Archer Olson, and Ty Haataja won the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:56.13. They were almost 30 seconds faster than the second Gremlins squad of Brett Gaff, Ian Evans, Zak Kotula and Carson Jackson.

Holombo, Collin Raasio, Isaac Romney, Saar Bar-Ziv, Rhea Bar-Ziv, and Colby Aho took the top six spots in the 200-yard freestyle. The Bar-Ziv brothers were back at it in the 100-yard freestyle, where Saar beat his brother by just over a second, 1:01.30 to 1:02.39.

“I was very happy for Rhea and Saar Bar-Ziv,” said Johnson. “They both made finals last year right at the end of the season. They started off this season getting that off their backs by making it in two events.”

Olson won the 200-yard individual medley (2:34.72) and the 500-yard freestyle (6:10.17), Beau Haataja won the 50-yard freestyle (29.64), Quinn Aho won the 1-meter diving (226.55), Davin Evans took the 100-yard butterfly (1:00.78) and the 100-yard backstroke (1:09.53), and Ian Evans won the 100-yard breaststroke (1:20.81).

Kotula, Beau Haataja, Ben Meddings, and Romney won the 200-yard freestyle relay. Holombo, Rhea Bar-Ziv, Oliver Anderson and Olson won the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“It wasn’t a perfect meet and it wasn’t a super clean meet, but we know what it will take to make those improvements,” said Johnson.”

While it was far from perfect, Johnson feels that his group set a high bar to try to top over the remainder of the season.

“It always comes down to the kids buying into the program,” he said. “As things start to get tough, we find out what our kids are made of. They did a great job for the first meet and I know that I am excited to see what improvement we can make before our next meet on Dec. 16.”


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