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DK-TK-Hastings girls take first battle of co-champs

DK-TK-Hastings freshman Anna Haywood races to a runner-up finish in the 100-yard butterfly during her team's OK Conference Tier II win over Caledonia-Lowell-South Christian Thursday in Hastings. (Photo by Brett Bremer)


Brett Bremer

Sports Editor

There is the chance that over the next two-plus season there will be a lot more great races between Abby Marcukaitis and Emmory VanHofwegen.

Marcukaitis, the Delton Kellogg-Thornapple Kellogg-Hastings sophomore state qualifier, scored wins in her two head-to-head match-ups against the Caledonia-Lowell-South Christian freshman VanHofwegen. DK-TK-Hastings head coach Carl Schoessel wanted strength against strength in placing Marcukaitis in the two freestyle sprints, after hours of math work to figure out the best line-up combinations to try and knock off the Vikings.

The coach's time and Marcukaitis' times helped power the DK-TK-Hastings varsity girls' swimming and diving team to a 96-89 over the CLS Vikings at the Community Education and Recreation Center Pool in Hastings Thursday.

Marcukaitis won the 50-yard freestyle in 25.59 seconds, with VanHofwegen second in 26.81. Marcukaitis took the 100-yard freestyle in 56.75, besting VanHofwegen's runner-up time of 1 minute 1.71 seconds. She also teamed with Lydia Cole, Anna Haywood and Julliann Meeker to open the meet with a winning time of 2:00.92 in the 200-yard medley relay.

“I told the girls if we could win the first relay, it would give us a head start and if we beat them it would mean we'd probably qualify for MISCA,” Schoessel said.

The DK-TK-Hastings foursome did qualify for the annual MISCA (Michigan Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association) meet with their time, and later hit the MISCA mark in the 200-yard freestyle relay as well. VanHofwegen and her teammates Lex Wilcox, Maggie Sova and Kaylin Schering got the win in that 200-yard freestyle though, finishing the race in 1:47.66 ahead of the DK-TK-Hastings foursome of Haywood, Daisy Nowinsky, Holly Bashore and Marcukaitis' time of 1:48.56.

CLS also had the team of Wilcox, VanHofwegen, Sova and Schering win the 400-yard freestyle relay in 4:05.95. In a close meet, the real battle in that final relay was for second place, where the team of Bashore, Meeker, Lauren Myers and Nowinsky managed to just beat out the CLS 'B' team of Hannah Fritz, Riley Keegstra, Kaitlyn Vincent and Kayla Huyser by a tenth of a second.

CLS head coach Stephanie Huyser stacked the two freestyle relays, and was happy with how her girls performed in those races.

“It is always a tough call figuring out which relay you want to stack. The girls that did the relay swam really well. I don't think a lot of them have ever swam the 'A' medley,” Huyser said.

The CLS girls have qualified for next weekend's MISCA Meet in the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard medley relay, with Wilcox, Sova and Schering qualifying in individual events as well.

The DK-TK-Hastings and CLS girls shared the 2018 conference championship with the Wayland Union girls. DK-TK-Hastings currently has one loss in OK Conference Tier II duals this season, to Ottawa Hills. The CLS girls now have two losses after falling to the Muskegon-Mona Shores team last week. The Trojans still have a tough dual ahead with those Muskegon girls.

“The girls morale coming out of this meet is really high. They're swimming well. Coming out of Mona Shores, every single girl got a personal best. That is what we want,” Huyser said. “It is hard, because a lot of girls' goal was to win all of our conference duals and to be solo conference winners. Losing two duals is going to impact that, but it also lets us know what we have to step up to. We're nervous and we're excited.”

DK-TK-Hastings got big points from its breaststrokers in the meet, behind the champ Sova from CLS who finished in 1:15.28. DK-TK-Hastings had Erin Dalman second in 1:16.43, Lydia Cole third in 1:21.37 and Ellen Shults fourth in 1:27.46.

“Our breaststrokers came on strong,” Schoessel said. “We've had some really good improvements from our breaststrokers. Up until this point in time, we've had girls just starting the stroke. We have girls working hard every week.”

The DK-TK-Hastings girls also got a boost in the diving competition, earning the top three spots in the event. DK-TK-Hastings senior Hannah Johnson won with a score of 219.95 points. Abigail Schell was second (196.15) and Claire Green third (170.10). CLS's Lexi Koorndyk set a new personal record with her fourth-place score of 155.45, but CLS was without its top diver Alex Salinas because of an illness.

Sova won the breaststroke as well as the 200-yard freestyle (2:13.34) for CLS. Wilcox took the 100-yard butterfly in 1:03.20. Keegstra won the 500-yard freestyle in 5:57.13.

Haywood won the 200-yard individual medley for DK-TK-Hastings in 2:29.63. Nowinsky, who was second to Keegstra in the 500 freestyle, swam three consecutive events – the 500 free, the 200 free relay and then won the 100-yard backstroke in 1:08.41.

DK-TK-Hastings returns to conference action at Grand Rapids Union Thursday (Oct. 10).

The DK-TK-Hastings program is also just starting to amp up for its annual Cancer Awareness Meet Oct. 24 in Hastings against Wayland. The event will benefit the Cole family this year as the DK-TK-Hastings junior, Lydia, continues her own battle with the disease. More information can be found at the newly created website

The DK-TK-Hastings girls were back in action Saturday at the Ottawa Hills Invitational, placing fourth at the ten-team meet. Forest Hills Northern-Eastern won the day's championship with 562 points, ahead of Muskegon-Mona Shores 554.5, Ottawa Hills 504, DK-TK-Hastings 451.5 and East Kentwood 445 in the top five.

Johnson was the runner-up in the diving competition for DK-TK-Hastings, putting together a score of 334.95 pionts, behind FHN-E junior Abby Koops who won with 391.70 points.

Marcukaitis had a runner-up time of 1:02.25 in the 100-yard butterfly, behind FHN-E's Haley Mckee who hit the wall in 1:02.15. Those two were more than three seconds ahead of their nearest competitors in the race. Marcukaitis was nearly four seconds ahead of her nearest competitor in winning the 100-yard backstroke in 1:03.30.

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