BOYS SWIMMING: Brother Rice makes statement in winning Oakland County title
BY DAN STICKRADT
WATERFORD — Mike Venos faces some problems that most coaches would love to have every time there is a competition.
First, the veteran boys swimming coach from Birmingham Brother Rice has to sample star senior Joe Krause through various events to see where he has the best chance to contend for a state title. Second, he has so much depth on the roster that he tries to spread the wealth around to as many events as possible so that more than a dozen talented athletes can have the opportunity to score at big meets.
Venos’ Warriors definitely had the right formula Sunday afternoon at Waterford Mott during the annual Oakland County Championships.
Krause won two events, swam on one championship relay and another that finished as runner-up. Meanwhile, the depth-laden Warriors scored in every event to emerge from the abyss with a stellar 446.5 points — one of the highest totals at the prestigious event.
The county championships postponed after freezing weather roamed the area Saturday. The meet featured eight Oakland County meet records and nine Mott pool records — and a hint of what is to come during the championship season for area powerhouse programs.
“Any time you get this many good teams and individuals in the same pool, you’re bound to get some great performances,” offered Venos, whose team captured its 15th overall Oakland County title in 21 years. “We saw that again this year. This is a fast pool and there were some great individual performances all day.”
Brother Rice, which is ranked No. 1 in Division 1, has finished strong several times in the past after winning the Oakland County title. The Warriors have gone on to win multiple state championships or captured a state runner-up finish after winning the county trophy.
Will this victory be a good omen this year?
“This is just the first step in the process,” said Krause. “One of our goals is to always swim fast at Oakland County and we did that. We happened to win it this year, but that’s not our goal. Our goal is to contend for a state championship.”
In a field of nearly 40 programs, a total of 26 scored points. Following Rice’s dominating effort, Birmingham Seaholm finished a distant second with 294 points to grab the runner-up trophy. Novi Detroit Catholic Central recorded its highest finish to date with 190 points to finish third, while Bloomfield Hills (164), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (142), Birmingham Groves (123), North Farmington (115.5), Troy (115), South Lyon Unified (113) and Clarkston (111) rounded out the top 10 in the team standings.
Krause won the 50 free (20.82) and 100 free (45.88), both which are new county meet standards, and swam on the winning 400 medley relay (3:07.11) that also featured Gust Kouvaris, Mark Blinstrub and Bobby Powrie.
“I am proud of the way we swam today,” said Venos. “We did not come here with the intention of winning the county. Sure, it’s always nice when we do. It’s quite an accomplishment with all of the talent here. There’s a lot of kids here that will place at the state meet. But we just try to have our best performance of the year at this point to kind of see where we are at. I didn’t expect us to score as much as we did.
“But we can’t rest on this performance. We have to keep working hard and try to improve for the rest of the season,” continued Venos. “We have some big meet coming up.”
Seaholm’s runner-up finish featured the Maples’ foursome of Evan Burke, Cliff Ross, Jack Russell and Matt Perham capturing the 200 medley relay (1:35.62), while Nathan Anderson, Perham, Mike Shaben and Enrique Hernandez broke the county record with a 1:25.32 clocking in the 200 freestyle relay.
Catholic Central won three events, as Colin Brinkman touched first in the 200 freestyle (1:43.95) and Jack Walsh captured both the 200 IM (1:51.68), another county mark, and 100 backstroke (40.93).
White Lake Lakeland’s Will Walker was another double winner by taking the county crown in the 100 butterfly (50.40) and 500 freestyle (4:38.19). He set the record in the 100 fly.
Groves’ Clark Lindsay won the 100 breaststroke (56.38) and Clarkston’s Joe Zendejas won Friday’s diving competition with 371.25 total points to round out the winners circle.