On Saturday morning at Allen Park High School, there was a sense of normalcy in the downstream swimming community. After a one-year hiatus, the Downriver Classic Swim and Dive Invitational was once again contested.
2021 Downriver Classic Swim and Dive Invitational Photo Gallery
When the waves calmed down, it was Trenton who took home his fifth championship trophy with a total of 274 points. Grosse Ile (236) was second while Wyandotte Roosevelt (226) was third, Riverview (162) was fourth and Allen Park (142) completed the top five. Lincoln Park (101) placed sixth and was followed by Gibraltar Carlson (80), Flat Rock (66), Woodhaven (52) and Edsel Ford (37).
“It was nice to have the spectators back,” said Trenton coach Jimmy DeRupa. “It gives the girls motivation and energy with the fans and the pool being noisy. Last year has gone by so quickly because of everything that has happened. It was quite normal to be back to competition.
That day, Trenton won first place in four of 12 events, second in four and third in three.
The Trojans started the competition with a 1 minute 58 second Division 3 State qualifying run in the 200 IM relay behind the efforts of Ava Gajewski, Jane McClelland, Sophia Shaul and Grace Mundt. The Grosse Ile quartet of Natalie Christnagel, Margaret Lee, Erika Pietras and Grace Mans (1: 59.09) took second place. Riverview (2: 05.36) finished third with Ellie Kulick Teaghan Pirtle, Melisa Dama and Marina Scowden.
Trenton concluded the competition by winning the 400m freestyle relay with Delaney King, Shaul, Gajewski and McClelland (3: 56.41). The Allen Park quartet of Gracyn Gartside, Liz Kleinlein, Elizabeth Vollmer and Abigail Russell (4: 08.26) finished second and Roosevelt (4: 11.29) finished third behind the efforts of Quinn Mittlestat, Tamara Hinojosa, Scotlynn Vaughn and Ania Toboy.
Trenton also won the top spots in all 50 freestyle and diving events. In the 50 freestyle, it was Shaul (26.53) who came in from behind to smother Riverview’s Kulick (26.68). Toboy de Roosevelt (27.30) placed third.
The diving competition took place in two sessions. On Wednesday evening, the competitors completed their first eight dives, then on Saturday they completed the final three laps with the cumulative total score determining the winner.
Samantha Plow of Trenton defended her 2019 title. Her total of 11 dives of 398.10 points gave her a comfortable distance ahead of second place Kaitlyn Molnar of Grosse-Île (352.35). Allen Park’s Amelia Luecke (326.45) was third while Ava Berger (290.50) of Trenton narrowly edged Kendall Haverlock (290.45) of Woodhaven and Evelina Hovlis (290.35) of Grosse- Isle.
That day there was a pair of two-time individual winners.
The first to complete her sweep was Flat Rock’s Lauren McNamara. Flat Rock was a first-time participant in the Downriver Classic as the program is only in its second year of existence.
“Swimming at the Downriver Classic was a great experience for our athletes to see Downriver’s talent and the camaraderie between all the teams,” said Flat Rock coach Shannon McNamara.
Lauren McNamara punched her return ticket to the D3 state competition in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly. In the 200 IM, her time of 2: 15.10 placed her ahead of Grace Grabowski of Lincoln Park (2: 21.86) and Pirtle of Riverview (2: 29.50). On the butterfly, her time of 56.98 placed her ahead of any girl who has ever swum at Allen Park, setting a new pool record with a time that would have easily qualified her for the D1 national competition. Lincoln Park’s Grabowski (1: 03.95) was again second while Trenton’s Gajewski (1: 10.19) took the points for third place.
The other two-time winner was Pietras of Grosse Ile, as she won the 200 and 500 freestyle events, passing McClelland of Trenton to claim the title each time. In the three years that these two athletes have swam face to face in this competition, they have combined to win both events each time, with Pietras winning five of the six races.
In the 200 freestyle, Pietras (1: 56.63) and McClelland (2: 00.22) were joined in the top three by Madison Taylor (2: 09.52) of Carlson. In the 500 freestyle, Pietras (5: 13.60) and McClelland (5: 18.84) beat Shaul (5: 30.84) and King (5: 37.62), both of Trenton. King was also fourth in the 200 freestyle (2: 11.15).
Pietras also led his team’s 200 freestyle relay to first place, scrambling up the last leg of the relay to close a nearly two-second delay. His split time of 24.92 was the fastest 50 freestyle of the day, either from the flat start or from the relay. She was joined by Mans, Gillian Bellard and Christnagel (1: 47.89). Riverview (1: 48.19) was second with the same quartet that placed third in the 200 QN relay; Kulick, Scowden, Pirtle and Dama. Roosevelt notched another third place in the relay, this time with Emily Sauve, Lucy Moline, Chloe Lobato and Deyana Haugabook (1: 52.83).
The last two individual events of the day were the backstroke and breaststroke.
On the back, Christnagel from Grosse-Île (1: 03.32) took victory and a place in the State D3 competition. She edged out Gajewski (1: 06.44) of Trenton and Taylor (1: 08.26) of Carlson who secured her second third place that day.
In breaststroke, Riverview’s Dama (1: 18.78) secured the top spot, while Trenton’s Emma Donovan (1: 20.97) and GI’s Eva Ottenbreit (1: 22.07) rounded out the trio. of head.
It was the 40th time that the Downriver Classic, formerly known as The News-Herald Invitational, has been contested. Trenton has taken first place 31 times.