High water mark: U of D Jesuit swimmers finish as state runner-up

University of Detroit Jesuit swimmers accept the runner-up trophy at the MHSAA Division 2 state championship meet at Oakland University on March 12. The second-place finish is the Cubs’ best performance in school history. (Photos by Wright Wilson | Special to Detroit Catholic)

ROCHESTER HILLS — When Charlie Bruce joined the University of Detroit Jesuit swim team as a freshman three years ago, he really didn’t anticipate what he and his classmates could accomplish down the line. As he wraps up his prep career, the depth of their accomplishments is beginning to sink in.

“Freshman year we got eighth (at the state finals), but we didn’t know how good we were going to get,” he said. “It wasn’t that we just got good; we grew together as a team. Every step we took, we did it together, and that made us work even harder. Every day we just wanted everyone else to succeed.”

Flash forward to the present, and U of D Jesuit has become one of the top programs in the state. Not only did the Cubs win a Catholic League championship for the first time since 1971, they followed it up with a runner-up team finish at the MHSAA Division 2 state championships on Saturday. It’s the best placing the team has ever had at the state finals.

“It’s pretty good,” said Bruce, a team captain. “After last year we knew we had it in us. It hurts that we didn’t win, but I couldn’t be more happy with my four years at U of D.”

Senior Drew Collins gets ready to enter the water for his leg of the 400 freestyle relay. Earlier, he won the individual medley and finished second in the backstroke.
Senior Drew Collins gets ready to enter the water for his leg of the 400 freestyle relay. Earlier, he won the individual medley and finished second in the backstroke.

The Cubs were in the mix all weekend long, and were only outscored by champion Ann Arbor Skyline, 291-266.

“They swam hard, man. They gave it all they had,” coach Drew Edson said. “It was a good meet. Skyline didn’t drop anything; they swam lights out. I think top-to-bottom this was probably the fastest state meet this year.”

U of D Jesuit’s top event was the backstroke. Seniors Christian Bouchillon and Drew Collins took the top two spots, at 49.50 and 50.33 seconds, respectively. Juniors Jordan Bouchillon finished eighth and Evan Hurtado was 10th, enabling the Cubs to get 55 points from the event.

Earlier, Collins won the individual medley in a time of 1:51.28. Freshman Evan Tack was sixth in the same heat (1:54.79). Bruce followed that up with a third-pace finish in the 50 freestyle (20.94), and he got eighth in the butterfly (50.72).

In relay events, U of D Jesuit earned big points with a pair of seconds and a third-place finish. The Cubs set school records in the 200 free and the 400 free relays this season.

Christian Bouchillon catches his breath after winning the backstroke. To his left is Drew Collins, who placed second. The 1-2 finish in the race was instrumental in helping University of Detroit Jesuit capture runner-up honors at the Division 2 state championships.
Christian Bouchillon catches his breath after winning the backstroke. To his left is Drew Collins, who placed second. The 1-2 finish in the race was instrumental in helping University of Detroit Jesuit capture runner-up honors at the Division 2 state championships.

“Those relays were impressive,” Bruce said. “We’re such a deep team, so it was great that we were able to have some success. Like the 200 free — since my freshman year I’ve always been in it, but it’s never been that good. Drew and Christian really showed up in both of their events winning; it’s always a good feeling. And getting two school records is pretty great.”

However, it really wasn’t a smooth, steady climb for Bruce and his fellow seniors. The 2020 state championships were canceled suddenly because of the outbreak of COVID-19, and the 2021 season was filled with extra precautions. But that seemed to provide extra incentive for the group.

“During the COVID year, we had a good senior class and they didn’t get to show out, so after that year we wanted to come back with a vengeance,” Bruce said. “We had the talent and we wanted to show everybody what we had.”

“I think it was really impressive how every single kid here seemed to really come back strong after the COVID years. It was really cool to see some fast swimming in the state again,” Edson said.

University of Detroit Jesuit coaches look on during the 500 freestyle race. Cub senior Scooby Szuba finished 11th in the event.
University of Detroit Jesuit coaches look on during the 500 freestyle race. Cub senior Scooby Szuba finished 11th in the event.

All in all, though, Saturday’s meet was a bittersweet moment for the Cub seniors.

“I’m so happy being part of this team,” Bruce said, “and I’m not said ‘cause we lost — I’m sad ‘cause it’s over.”

Other Catholic League swimmers excel

Also at Oakland University, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice placed 10th with 74.5 points. Connor Kulka led the Warriors by placing fourth in the 50 and 100 freestyle races (20.98 and 45.91). Robbie Higgins tied for sixth in backstroke (51.80).

Novi Detroit Catholic Central finished eighth among Division 1 competition at the Holland Aquatic Center. Nolan Gresens was third in the backstroke (51.39) and fourth in the butterfly (50.32); Luke Mychalowych was fourth in the breaststroke (57.86) and Jason Per finished sixth in diving (362.65).

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook was sixth among Division 3 schools competing at Calvin University.

Ethan Schwab was second in the 500 free (4:35.00) and Will Farner was sixth in the same heat (4:59.02). Schwab came back with a runner-up finish in the breaststroke (54.76). Cranbrook was also third in the medley relay and eighth in the 400 free relay.



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