Belfast boys, girls seek quality performances

Posted Feb. 12, 2009, at 11:57 p.m.

Teams will be looking to break streaks, droughts and records as the pools at Bowdoin College and the University of Maine host state championship swimming and diving meets in Classes A and B Monday and Tuesday.

Bowdoin’s Greason Pool will host Class A action as the Bangor girls and boys attempt to win their fourth and third straight team titles, respectively, while UMaine’s Wallace Pool will be the site at which the Mount Desert Island boys attempt to win their fifth consecutive Class B crown while the McAuley girls of Portland try to start a streak and defend their 2008 title.

The ladies go first as both girls meets are held Monday. The spotlight switches over to the boys on Tuesday. Class A trial swims start at 10 a.m. both days with the finals beginning at 7 p.m. In the Class B meets, trials begin at 10:30 a.m. with finals scheduled for 5 p.m.

Although his team won its second straight Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference crown last weekend and defending state champ MDI lost the Penobscot Valley Conference meet to Bangor, Belfast boys coach Bob Winslow didn’t have the slightest bit of hesitation about handicapping the meet.

“Without a doubt, MDI is the favorite because of the quality of swimmers as well as the quantity of swimmers they have,” he said.

That’s not to say Winslow’s Lions, who finished fourth last year, aren’t contenders. Belfast, MDI, and 2008 state runner-up Greely of Cumberland Center are all in the mix.

“Ellsworth and John Bapst have some good swimmers as well,” Winslow said. “We have seven people qualified to swim states and have all the events covered except the 50 free and 100 breast, and we have some quality swimmers in the 200 and 500 free and the IM.”

Those swimmers are sophomores Will Hurley and Eric Gaulin, freshmen Taylor Ottman and Ben Shephard and juniors Cassidy Alex, Patrick Howard and James Knight.

Still, Winslow has tempered his expectations due to the relative youth of the team. He does think a top-four finish could be a springboard into championship contention next year with so many returning swimmers plus an expected infusion of talent by several solid freshmen.

“We have no seniors among our 14 swimmers and two divers,” said Winslow, whose Lions last won state titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. “And we have some great swimmers coming up, along with a solid diver, so the future looks promising.”

The Belfast girls seem to be on the same path as the boys, but just a year behind.

“We have eight or nine girls qualified for states and we think we can definitely improve on our 15th-place finish last year,” said first-year Belfast girls coach Donna Kelley, whose daughter Paige is a junior captain and standout in the 100-yard backstroke, the 200 individual medley, and the 400 free relay. “At KVACs, we placed four girls in just about every event, but I don’t think we have quite enough qualifiers yet to score enough to be in the top three just yet.”

Those select teams, according to Kelley are defending champ McAuley; Falmouth, which won four straight states (2004-07), Greely and MDI.

“Those are the ones we haven’t gone against this season,” she said.

The Lions are led by senior captains Belinda Place (butterfly, relays) and Caitlin Rooney (200 free, relays). They should come away with some points in the 1-meter dive as junior Amber Resmini could place in the top five and freshman Allison James has also qualified to compete. Other potential scorers are sophomores Rosie LaCivita (IM and relays), Alyssa Bonin (medley relay) and Kasey Laveway (200 free relay).

aneff@bangordailynews.net

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