Chips coast past Packers in home opener

Manistee’s Hogan Miller swims the 200-yard freestyle during the Chippewas’ home opening victory over Fremont on Thursday at the Paine Aquatic Center. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Manistee boys swimming and diving held its home opener Thursday with a dual meet against Coastal Swim Conference foe Fremont. The Chippewas gave the home crowd something to smile about with a 118-67 win over the Packers.

“They swam outstanding,” said Manistee head coach Nick Zacek. “They really used that excitement of having the first home meet of the season. We really made it all about the team tonight.

“I think they really swam as well as they did because they swam not just for each other, but also with each other from race to race.”

The Chippewas got off to a good start when the team of Eric Reague, Zach Lee, Sebastian Larsen and Caden Schmutzler took first in the 200-yard medley relay, turning in a time of 1:51.46. The team of Seth Thompson, Dylan Johnson, Harrison Harland and Luke Herberger took fourth, finishing in 2:06.13.

The team of Ben Sullivan, Lee, Johnson and Schmutzler took first in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:38.19. Larsen, Reague, Thompson and Griffen Antal took third with a 1:45.40.

“They’ve really done a nice job these last few weeks of just focusing on some super small points,” Zacek said. “A few races tonight even came down to tenths of a second, and a lot of those, we won. A lot of that is a testament to what they do daily in practice.

“I’ve been far more of a stickler about that this year than in years past, so I’m glad to see that’s really showing in their races.”

The team of Antal, Matthew Blevins, Frederik Rahbek and Sullivan took second in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Their time of 3:59.32 was just 0.11 seconds off the pace set by Fremont’s winning team.

The Chippewas had been looking forward to their first home meet of the season for quite some time and it lived up to expectations.

“We haven’t really had much of a hype-up chant, or a hype-up cheer, so we learned one yesterday and that’s all we need,” Zacek said. “I think that not only got them fired up just to be here, but to swim in front of their families, for some of them in front of their girlfriends who were timing, for really just everyone that was involved in it.

“It was fun,” he continued. “It was a lot of fun to watch.”

As Fremont had no divers, the Chippewas cleaned up in the diving event with Caspar Koskela, Anderson Johns, Keaton Gajewski and Evan Scarlata scoring points for Manistee.

Fremont’s swimming program has been a little down of late, but this season they have a solid group and look to be progressing. Zacek is happy to see the Packers are on the right track.

“It’s really nice to see other teams that may have a slump year, or an off year or a rebuilding year, that really come into the next season or into the two next seasons with a really nice core group, and that’s what they’ve got,” Zacek said. “Their sprinters were chasing us all throughout the entire meet. They’ve really done a fantastic job. Have to give them a lot of credit on that one.”

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