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Marcukaitis rewrites record board at Tier II Meet

Delton Kellogg-Thornapple Kellogg-Hastings' Abby Marcukaitis (from left), Hannah Johnson and Anna Haywood are honored for their all-conference performances Saturday at the OK Rainbow Tier II Conference Meet their team hosted at the Community Education and Recreation Center in Hastings Saturday. (Photo by Brett Bremer)


Brett Bremer

Sports Editor

One Union Red Hawk leaned over to a teammate.

“She's a sophomore,” she said as the other's eyes got wide.

Delton Kellogg-Thornapple Kellogg-Hastings sophomore Abby Marcukaitis set team, pool and conference records in both the 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke at the 2019 OK Rainbow Tier II Conference Meet at the Community Education and Recreation Center in Hastings Saturday.

She qualified for the Division 1 Lower Peninsula Swimming and Diving Finals in both races as well, winning the 100-yard freestyle in 53.62 seconds and the 100-yard backstroke in 57.64. Marcukaitis had to push hard the final 25 yards in the 100 free to beat out Greater Muskegon junior Evyn Johnson by a second. Marcukaitis had to push herself in the 100 backstroke, beating her nearest competitor by nearly 7.5 seconds. She placed 12th in that state in the backstroke race a year ago

Former 100 free conference record holder, CLS alumnus Syd Schering, presented Marcukaitis with her medal following the race. Natalie VanDenack had been the previous team record holder in the race for DK-TK-HHS thanks to a time of 54.59 ten years ago.

The medal stand was fun, but Marcukaitis said the highlights of the event for her were the moments she spent treading water on the edge of the pool between her competitors as the crowd cheered and her record times were announced – especially the 100-yard freestyle because of the competition. Johnson was more than a second faster than Marcukaitis in Friday's preliminary heats for the race. Marcukaitis and Johnson swim in the USA Swim Program together.

Marcukaitis was one of three DK-TK-HHS girls to earn all-conference honors at the meet, joining senior diving champion Hannah Johnson and freshman swimmer Anna Haywood on the bulkhead as the conference's top athletes were honored at the end of the long weekend at the pool.

Hannah Johnson and fellow DK-TK-HHS divers Claire Green and Shannon Brown all qualified for tonight's (Nov. 14) Division 1 Diving Regionals with their performances. Johnson won the conference diving championship, putting together an 11-dive score of 360.75 points. Caledonia-Lowell-South Christian senior Alex Salinas was a close second with 352.25 points, setting a new team record for an 11-dive event. Green placed fifth and Brown sixth in the diving competition.

Haywood added a fourth-place time of 1:06.05 in the 100-yard butterfly to her IM finish. Wayland's Riley VanPopering won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:19.43 with Haywood second in that race in 2:25.06.

Teammates Juliann Meeker, Daisy Nowinsky, Erin Dalman and Holly Bashore we’re also among some of the top-scoring swimmers of the meet. Meeker and Dalman teamed with Marcukaitis and Haywood for a third-place time of 1:56.35 in the 200-yard medley relay - their team’s top relay finish.

The team of Haywood, Nowinsky, Bashore and Marcukaitis placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:46.40 and the team of Meeker, Bashore, Lydia Cole and Nowinsky was sixth in the 400-yard freestyle relay in 4:11.03.

Nowinsky was as part of a thrilling race for second, behind Marcukaitis, in the 100-yard backstroke. Nowinsky was fourth in the race. The second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the race were separated by just .86 seconds. A pair of Ottawa Hills girls were between Marcukaitis and her senior teammate Nowinsky who finished in 1:05.58.

“It is fun (chasing Marcukaitis),” Nowinsky said. “We're lane buddies. She is my little sis' on the team. I just want her to do well.

“It is really fun that we're swimming backstroke together, both top eight, just going for it. It is really good for our team,” Nowinsky added. “She is insane. No fast skin, day one, she gets a 59 and then day two she gets a 57, beats the school record, the conference record, everything. I'm really proud.”

Dalman, another DK-TK-HHS senior, placed fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:15.43. Meeker, a junior, placed eighth in the 50-yard freestyle in 28.38.

The Greater Muskegon Turtles Co-op varsity girls’ swimming and diving team won the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay, and capped off an undefeated conference season by winning the meet with 392 points. Wayland Union was second with 337.5 points, ahead of CLS 326, Ottawa Hills 313, DK-TK-HHS 303, Calvin Christian 228.5, West Catholic 95 and Grand Rapids Union 80.

Evyn Johnson teamed with Olivia McKenna, Alaina Kohley and Helena Widder to win the 200-yard medley relay for Muskegon in 1:53.49. That same foursome won the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:40.46.

McKenna won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:57.83 and the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:11.06. Her teammate Evyn Johnson won the 50-yard freestyle in 25.02.

CLS junior Lex Wilcox won the 100-yard butterfly in 1:01.08. Miranda Lee, an Ottawa Hills senior, won the 500-yard freestyle in 5:22.16.

Johnson's 50 freestyle championship, Wilcox's butterfly championship and Marcukaitis' backstroke title were all repeat championships from 2018. Lee closed out her conference career with three straight titles in the 500 freestyle.

Others scoring points for the DK-TK-HHS team at the meet included Lauren Myers, Ellen Shults, Lily Foy, Karsyn Daniels and Abby Gaskill.

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