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Birmingham Brother Rice dominates D1 swimming state finals WITH TOUT VIDEOS

  • The Birmingham Brother Rice swim team celebrates with the Division 1 state championship trophy following Saturday's meet at Saginaw Valley State University (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Birmingham Brother Rice coaches celebrate a fast time from one of their swimmers during Saturday's meet. (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • The Brother Rice swim team celebrates its Division 1 title in the SVSU pool (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Swimmers compete in the 100 backstroke (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Swimmers walk out for the final of the 200 freestyle (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Brother Rice's Bradford Jones warms up prior to Saturday's meet (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Swimmers compete in the 100 breaststroke (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • The Warriors take the podium as Division 1 state champions (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Swimmers compete in the 100 butterfly during Saturday's D1 state championship (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Bloomfield Hills coach Mike Holtz speaks to some of his swimmers prior to the D1 finals (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Swimmers get set to begin the 200 Medley Relay (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Brother Rice celebrates a state title in the 200 freestyle relay (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Bloomfield Hills coach Mike Holtz hands senior John Schihl his his medal for winning the 100 breaststroke on Saturday (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Brother Rice coach Mike Venos congratulates his swimmers and hands them their medals for winning the 200 medley relay (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Brother Rice coach Mike Venos speaks to Bradford Jones after he finished eighth in the 50 freestyle (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Novi Detroit Catholic Central's Jack Walsh takes the podium after winning the 100 backstroke (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)
  • Brother Rice coach Mike Venos hugs senior Joe Krause after Krause swam the final leg of the 400 freestyle relay that set a new MHSAA record (The Oakland Press/Drew Ellis)

SAGINAW – The eventual outcome seemed like a foregone conclusion, but that didn’t make the result any less enjoyable for the Birmingham Brother Rice swim team.

The Warriors dominated the Division 1 swim state finals, scoring 345 points to top the field by 143 and earn their first state championship since 2007.

Head coach Mike Venos, who isn’t one to talk about championships, even felt like this season was Rice’s time after losing out on the title last year by just four points.

“I think the way we ended last year was the big moment,” Venos said of the title. “I saw the look in these kids’ eyes. They made a commitment that day that they were going to come back and do something special this year. We never talk about state championships. We don’t ever talk about winning. We always talk about going out and swimming the best we can and controlling the only thing we can control. It was easy this year as far as writing practices. Every practice was state meet to these guys, and when you have this group of kids that kind of beat each other up every day in practice, it shows. We just kind of wound them up and got out of the way this weekend.”

The Warriors claimed four event titles on the day, including all three relays.

The team of Mark Blinstrub, Drew Grady, Gust Kouvaris and Bradford Jones won the 200 medley relay in a time of 1:32.77. Jones joined Joe Krause, Bobby Powrie and Jack Kennedy in the 200 freestyle relay for a championship time of 1:25.10.

The 400 freestyle relay team of Kouvaris, Powrie, Blinstrub and Krause set a new MHSAA record with a winning time of 3:02.06.

Krause also went on to win the 50 freestyle in a time of 20.63, capping off a tremendous career for the Warriors.

“Joe Krause when he came in as a freshman was a very talented kid. He brought the talent up around him. He has some great leadership skills and the way he works in the pool really caught on to these kids. You need somebody like that, that knows how to step it up. I can yell and scream until I am blue in the face, but when one of the teammates is saying ‘come on, let’s go,’ it means a lot more.”

Krause will continue his swimming career at Notre Dame, but says Saturday’s memories will not be soon forgotten.

“The experience of everything pushes me. My teammates and my coaches have pushed me to be the best I can be and it really all paid off (Saturday),” Krause said. “I have four years of swimming ahead of me, but nothing can match the experience I have had these last few years.”

Krause also ended up taking second in the 100 freestyle on Saturday while Kouvaris placed second in the 100 butterfly. Both have been leaders for the Warriors all season and helped Brother Rice obtain a perfect season with a county, league and state title.

“The way those kids stepped up at the Oakland County meet really surprised me,” Venos said of when he knew his team could win the state title. “I kind of thought that we could do something. It is always in the back of your head, but you just don’t ever want to talk about it.”

Livonia Stevenson ended up in second with 202 while Holland West Ottawa was third with 185. Bloomfield Hills placed fifth on the day with 136, which was a strong outing in their Division 1 finals debut.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am for those kids and that program and it is so nice to have them back here,” Venos said of the Black Hawks. “A lot of these kids know each other and swim together and we all cheer for each other. It is nice to have that program at Division 1 and they had some great swims.”

Senior John Schihl picked up a state title for the Black Hawks in the 100 breaststroke, as he finished with a time of 55.39, less than 0.1 seconds off the MHSAA record.

Novi Detroit Catholic Central finished sixth in the team standings with 126 points and was led by junior Jack Walsh, who finished second in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:48.54 and then capped off his day by winning the state title in the 100 backstroke with a time of 49.08. The backstroke was one of the closest events all day, as Walsh edged Cameron Craig of Monroe, who swam in 49.12.

“It felt really good. It is what I have been working for all year and it felt great to have that hard work pay off,” Walsh said. “I could see (Cameron) underwater and he was really coming on strong. I wasn’t sure if I had won it at the end. Once I saw it on the board, I felt great.”

Last Updated: 3/8/2014 7:15:13 PM EST


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