“It is unbelievably rewarding to see the kids perform and do well,” commented Phil Emery, coach of the Class A State Champion Bangor High Ram swimmers and divers.
The recent championship won by Emery’s team is the 24th state title for Bangor High in boys’ swimming. The first title was won in 1964. The Rams have won 23 under Emery, who began his coaching career at Bangor in 1969.
As a result of this year’s win, Bangor High will retain the Bob Miller trophy. The Miller trophy — named for Robert Miller, the first swimming coach at Bowdoin College — since 1938 has been displayed at the school winning the state title.
“There is a sense of accomplishment,” said Emery as he reflected several days after the meet on the performance of his boys.
Enthusiastically, he pointed to the consistency with which the boys recorded best times. For example, in the 200 individual medley, Taylor Wicks, a 2:10 dual-meet swimmer in the IM, dropped to a 2:04 at the championship. Teammates Sam Barnett and Isaac Walton, 2:17 and 2:21 swimmers in the IM, respectively, prior to the championship, improved to 2:13 and to 2:15.
Despite Bangor’s tradition of success at the state meet, the 100-yard butterfly in recent years has not been an event where the Rams have scored.
That changed this year. Ian Kasprazak, who had not raced fly until this season, slid under the minute mark at the championship, a three-second improvement from his dual meet swims. And, Benjamin Rapaport, who was a 1:13 flyer a year ago, dropped 11 seconds from his last year’s time and scored in the fly for BHS at 1:02.7.
“Everything came together,” Emery said.
Not only were the Rams recording best times in individual events, but the relays, 200 medley and 200 free, featured best times as well. Wicks, Barnett and Kasprazak along with freestyle ace Joey Quinn turned in best times on their legs of the relay and the 200 free relay team won the event with the hot swimming of Wicks, Ihan Cameron, both of whom split in the 22s, Barnett and Zach Veilleux.
“This championship was a real team effort,” Emery said.
Bates to host New England meet
Bates College will host the New England Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Meet Saturday. Traditionally, the meet has been held in Rhode Island at Roger Williams College.
However, unlike the Maine interscholastic state meets, which are trials and finals and recognize team performances, the New England meet is a timed finals program and does not award any team honors.
Identified as a New England meet, the competition includes swimmers and divers from Maine, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Eligible competitors include the state titlist in each event from Class A and from Class B and then the next three fastest racers or highest scoring divers regardless of class. If the events are not filled, then the spots are open based on performance at the state meets to the other swimmers, divers, and relay teams.
Among those competing is Brewer’s Jessica Hodsdon, Class A champion in the l00 butterfly and 100 breaststroke.
The senior won the 100 breaststroke as a freshman and as a sophomore in the New England meet. She finished second a year ago to a swimmer from Rhode Island.
“When it comes time to compete at the elite level, she digs deep,” said Brewer coach Kathy Cahill, who praised Hodson’s determination and perseverance in overcoming a shoulder injury allowing to continue her training.
Brent Williams, a freestyler for Brewer, will compete in the New England competition as well.
Four Bangor divers are expected to compete, according to BHS diving coach Jaret Lizotte. Ashley Higgins, Class A champion, and teammates Julie Clifford and Megan Rowe along with Tim Smith, who finished second in the Class A meet for the Rams.
Lizotte, who formerly coached diving at the University of Maine, noted that each of the divers at the New England meet will dive 11 dives comprised of required and optional dives.
Uncertain of the meet’s quality of diving, Lizotte identified the strengths of his participants in the meet.
“Julie is very consistent and executes her dives very well. Ashley has graceful lines off the board and enters the water very smoothly. Megan is a power diver. She throws the degree of difficulty and usually finishes the dive. They are really competitive with one another in practice, but are equally supportive of one another.”
Tim is very gifted. He naturally jumps off the board well aligned. He is really focused and wants to learn,” Lizzotte said.
Lane Lines …
ä Last week it was inaccurately reported here that Duffy Ackerly was recognized at each of the four Maine Principals’ Association’s state meets. Actually, Ackerly received recognition at the Class B meets held at the University of Maine. Receiving the MPA dedication at the Class A interscholastic meets held at Bowdoin College was Chris Branch, who has served in various capacities for Maine swimming including as an official and as a meet director for the MPA.