Nehemiah Mork is probably a tired young man this morning. Then again, maybe not.
When you’re a senior in high school, and coming off one of the greatest swim performances in Midland history, there’s probably no such thing as being tired.
Too much adrenaline.
Too much youth.
Too much excitement following Saturday’s Division 2 state championships at Saginaw Valley State University, where Mork won the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle titles for the second straight year. That means young Mr. Mork ends his storied swim career with four individual state titles — second in program history only to Brad Craig’s five individual state titles from 2005-07.
Craig, like Mork, went to Dow High School. And since the state finals of Craig’s sophomore season back in 2005, the Chargers’ swim program has been a force, capturing individual and relay state titles, high rankings in the state polls, and a reputation that it is going be a threat to win a state title.
Since 2005, Dow has won 15 individual state titles: Craig (5), Mork (4), Jackson Goethe (3), Ben Martin (1), Gabe Strickler (1) and Tyler Piotrowski (1). The Chargers also have won four state titles in relay events over that time.
Stop and think for a moment — that’s a stunning accomplishment. And that’s just over a span of the past 12 seasons.
That’s not taking into account any of the great Dow swimmers before that time frame (Kurt Bohnert won the 50 and 100 state titles in 1995). And it’s not taking into account the incredible run of Saginaw Valley League championships (14 years straight) and Tri-Cities titles (again, 14 straight) under the masterful coaching of Gary Strickler and long-time assistant Chilly Smith.
A swim dynasty? If it isn’t, I’m not sure what is.
In a number of ways, this city’s swim success has flown under the radar. Most sports fans probably think of Midland as a baseball town, or a tennis town or a city that’s noted for playing great high school football.
It’s all of that — and more. Swimming, it must be said, must be included in the discussion.
Through the years, Midland has produced incredible female and male swimmers, including Kristy Heydanek (who swam at UCLA and in the Pan-Am Games in the early 1990s), Bob Jennings (a standout at Eastern Michigan in the 1980s), and Midland High’s Gisselle Kohoyda (who swam at Louisville and in the Olympic Trials a few years ago), to name just a few swimmers over the years who’ve achieved great success after high school.
Brad Craig, of course, might be the most well known. Craig went to Tennessee after graduating from Dow, and after leaving Tennessee, he has twice competed in the Olympic Trials, and has made the U.S. National Team.
At the present, Goethe (University of Michigan) and Martin (Michigan State) swim in the Big 10 Conference. Mork will join Martin next fall after having committed to attend MSU.
Thanks to the rich tradition of a strong youth program with the Midland Dolphins, the steady stream of young talent just keeps flowing along, year after year, decade after decade.
A baseball town? A tennis town? Football? Soccer? The list is long for what Midland sports is known for.
One thing is for certain — with incredible swimmers like Nehemiah Mork, swimming and success are synonymous with Midland, Michigan.
Chris Stevens is sports editor of the Daily News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org