BRUNSWICK, Maine – After watching his team roil Bowdoin College’s Greason Pool waters with personal bests after personal bests in Tuesday morning’s preliminary swims, Bangor High swim coach Phil Emery decided to do his impersonation of a riverboat gambler.
Bangor’s depth and execution allowed Emery to get a solid feel for the finals of the Class A state boys swimming and diving championships, and it paid off in spades with a state title.
“I don’t know how he does it,” said junior Taylor Wicks, who finished second in the 100-yard backstroke, third in the 200 individual medley, first as the third leg of Bangor’s winning 200 free relay team, and second as the lead leg of Bangor’s second-place 200 medley relay team.
“Coach always says we swim two meets here. Both are finals as far as we’re concerned, but the one we’re concerned about first is the prelims and that’s what set us up for this tonight,” Wicks added.
Bangor scored 315 points to outdistance runner-up Cheverus of Portland and win its third straight state crown. Cheverus had 228 points, Westbrook was third at 226 and Deering of Portland fourth at 189.
Emery broke up Bangor’s top-seeded 200-yard freestyle relay team to put anchor leg swimmer Joey Quinn into the same position on the 200 medley relay team, move Ihan Cameron to anchor on the 200 free relay, and insert senior Zach Veilleux in the second leg for the 200 free relay.
“The idea was to take a guaranteed win with our 200 free relay team and take what we could get out of the 200 medley relay because it was apparent no matter what combination we used, Westbrook was too powerful,” Emery said. “We ended up getting second in the medley and first in the 200 free.
“We had enough depth that it allowed us a sneak peek and no one else had that. The key is all the guys who did as well as they were seeded or better. If they hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t have gotten that advance look. In a sense, we won it in the prelims, but we still had to come back and win t in the finals.”
And that they did.
“The way the relays were set up, we saw that the top teams were stacking their relays, so we figured we could mix it up and maybe gain some points,” said sophomore Sam Barnett, who was second in the 100 breaststroke and also on the 200 free and 200 medley relay teams. “Everybody swam great today.”
The Rams turned a precarious lead into a solid one, going from 22 points ahead of Westbrook to 54 in one event. After Wicks finished second in the 100 backstroke — an event Westbrook managed to score just one point in from Kalin Lancaster’s 16th-place finish — Bangor had a firm grip on first with 256 points to the Blue Blazes’ 186 with just two events to go.
Bangor clung to a tenuous 22-point lead at the three-quarters mark of the meet after Westbrook’s Derek Hawkes won the 500 free and Kalin Lancaster finished 12 in it to give Deering 25 points. Bangor minimized the damage by picking up 23 points via a 5-9-16 finish from James Moreside, Tristan Herbold and Jeff Rogers.
The Rams wasted no time charging out into the lead. One quarter of the way through the meet (after three events), Bangor overtook Westbrook by placing three swimmers among the top 11 in the 200 individual medley, scoring 33 points, and taking a 96-90 lead. Wicks led the Rams with a third-place finish in the 200 IM.
The Rams broadened their lead somewhat by placing three swimmers in the 50 free finals and coming away with 22 points. Cameron led the way for Bangor by finishing third. Bangor finished the first third of the meet with 118 points to Westbrook’s 103.
Bangor continued to cull points in the 1-meter dive as junior Tim Smith finished second and sophomore Kyle Mallory-MacDonald was 13th to add another 21 points to the Rams total (139 to Westbrook’s 103).
Smith, who never dove before this season, was trailing badly early on, but rallied by nailing his second-to-last dive, which also happens to be one of his most difficult, and earning two scores of 7 along with 6’s and 6 1/2’s.
“That’s one of my most difficult dives, but it’s been one of my best this year and I really needed to nail it at that point,” Smith said. “When I got in the water, everyone was freaking out so I figured it must have been a good one. No one else got a seven.”
Westbrook cut into Bangor’s lead a bit in the 100 butterfly by collecting finishes of third and eighth, but Bangor managed to offset the gain a bit with nine points gleaned by Ian Kasprzak’s 10th-place finish and Ben Rapaport’s 15th.
Kyle Goan’s first-place finish in the 100 free was worth 20 points to Westbrook, but even with David Born’s two more for 15th, Bangor still gained points overall in the meet as Quinn collected 15 for fourth and Cameron got another 12 for seventh in the race. The end result was a 175-152 lead for the Rams after seven of 12 events.
Junior James Wells from Morse High in Bath was named the meet’s outstanding swimmer after winning the 100 butterfly with a state record time of 50.06 and the 100 backstroke with another state mark of 49.88. Both broken records were his own.