Peel D3 MVP; Lakers fourth at state finals

Duncan MacLean • Mar 9, 2019 at 6:07 PM

The Spring Lake swim and dive team racked up a litany of awards, historic marks and stellar swims Saturday at the Division 3 state championship finals at Oakland University.

As a team, the Lakers finished fourth overall with 197 points. Holland Christian took home the overall title (323.5), ahead of second-place East Grand Rapids (267) and third-place Marshal (198), as they passed the Lakers in the point standings in the final race of the meet, despite Spring Lake’s win.

Senior Cam Peel led the way with first-place finishes in all four of his events, setting new state records across the board to earn the Division 3 Most Valuable Swimmer award.

Peel kicked things off with the 50 freestyle, where he took top honors in 19.91, just missing out on his own All-Class record, which he set at 19.86 at the meet’s preliminary session Friday. After the bubbles settled at all three state championship meets this weekend, Peel’s two 50 freestyle swims remained the first and only time a Michigan High School swimmer has broke the 20-second barrier in the event.

The fun continued in the 100 freestyle, as Peel took the gold with a ballistic time of 43.94, setting a new Division 3 state record, finishing well ahead of the second-place time of 45.39.

Along with his success individually, Peel led the Lakers’ freestyle relays with unprecedented splits, buoyed by phenomenal swims by his teammates.

Joey Wachter (20.92), Sam Sella (22.03), K.J. Losee (20.85) put the Lakers well ahead of the field to start off the 200 freestyle relay, giving Peel open water to play with. The lead only grew, as Peel ripped off a 19.08 for his leg, bringing Spring Lake in under the Division 3 state record and just short of the All-Class record at 1:22.88.

Peel continued to drop the jaws of competitors and spectators alike at Oakland in the 400 freestyle relay, as Losee (46.56), Charles Brown (49.00) and Wachter (45.09) got mixed up in an epic race with the defending event champions from Holland Christian. Peel hit the water with some ground to make up, about a body-length behind the Maroons. An expert relay exchange made up most of the distance, while his split did the rest. Peel clocked in at 43.01, bringing the Lakers home for a state-record time of 3:03.66, beating Holland Christian by just over one second.

The future University of Michigan swimmer wasn’t the only Laker to top the podium, though. Losee picked up a state title of his own in the 200 freestyle, clocking in at 1:39.76, well ahead of the second place time of 1:41.42.

Losee followed his gold medal up with a silver, finishing runner-up in the 500 freestyle at 4:36.20, dropping four seconds off his prelim time and 12 seconds off his seed time.

Wachter rounded out the Lakers’ individual point scorers with a pair of silver-medal swims. The first came to his teammate in the 50 freestyle, as he finished the down-and-back race in 20.68. The second came in the 100 backstroke, as the junior turned in a 49.90, falling to a state-record effort by Holland Christian’s Riley VanMeter.

Spring Lake had just one swim in the consolation finals, as the 200 medley relay team of Collin Schock, Evan Schock, Charles Brown and Sam Sella finished 14th in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:41.29.

To top it all off, in his final year as the Spring Lake head coach, Rob Peel was voted by his fellow Division 3 coaches as Coach of the Year, earning the award alongside his son as Swimmer of the Year.

Rob Peel will step down from the Spring Lake head coaching position this year to enjoy both Cam’s swimming career at the University of Michigan and his daughter Meg Peel’s final year swimming at Hope College.

For a full breakdown and photos of the weekend’s Division 3 swimming action, complete with reactions from the Peels, check out Monday’s edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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