Gremlins open swim season with split at Westwood

ISHPEMING — Houghton Gremlins swim coach Erik Johnson has a pair of young teams this season, and that youth showed through as the boys earned a win in a dual meet with the Westwood Patriots, while the girls fell in a close competition Tuesday.

“We have a lot of first year swimmers and divers so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Johnson said. “At the end of the meet, I was pleasantly surprised by the young, inexperienced team. We made it through as a team and really pushed ourselves throughout the meet.”

The boys won 142-6, while the girls fell 93-79.

While the team is young, and is made up of swimmers from more than just Houghton, Johnson was thrilled to get four swimmers and two divers to qualify in the opening meet.

“We had one girl qualify in diving, one boy qualify in diving and four boys qualify in swimming,” he said “This is the first year we have had a co-op for swimming since I have been with the program, and it is great to get a few more kids from the Copper Country involved in such an awesome sport.”

On the girls’ side, Houghton took the top two spots in the 200-yard freestyle as Cora Mueller (2:42.11) and Clair Filpus (2:51.05) finished less than nine seconds apart. In the 100-yard freestyle, Mueller, Rose Dennis, and Madelyn Raasio finished first, second and third, respectively.

Kaci Dewar won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 7:32.14.

Filpus came back later and won the 100-yard backstroke, beating Abby Hinze of Westwood by over 17 seconds.

In the 400-yard freestyle relay, Dewar, Filpus, Mueller, and Raasio finished in 4:55.10, which was 47 seconds faster than the Westwood team that finished in 5:42.99.

“The Westwood girls were just a little too much for us,” Johnson said. “They had some really good divers and we came up a little bit short. That will be a goal for us this year to close that gap and see if we can catch them by the end of the year.”

On the boys’ side, the Patriots only had two swimmers, but the pair made life challenging for the Gremlins’ swimmers.

“The Westwood boys team only had two boys, but I was impressed with how they showed up and gave it their all,” said Johnson. “The score was lopsided, but the efforts were not.”

Collin Raasio won the 200-yard freestyle. Dennis Walter won the 200-yard individual medley. Beaudan Haataja won the 50-yard freestyle.

Ty Crisman won the 1-meter diving.

Haataja won the 100-yard butterfly. Isaak De Ycaza took the 100-yard freestyle. Collin Raasio won the 500-yard freestyle, beating Walter for the title.

Oliver Anderson won the 100-yard backstroke. Ian Evans won the 100-yard breaststroke.

The relay team of Anderson, Evans, Haataja, and Raasio won the 200-yard medley relay. Joshua Bennett, Brett Ceane, De Ycaza and Evan Massaway won the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Haataja, Raasio, Anderson and Bennett also combined to win the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“The first one is always a big learning curve, and we learned what we need to do to prepare for the rest of the season,” said Johnson. “Our big goal will be to improve our times, get some more kids qualified, and continue to be the loudest-cheering team in the U.P.

“That is always a point of pride for the team, and I know these kids will continue that tradition. As always, I am excited to see what the rest of the season will hold and how much improvement these kids can make.”


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