ORONO — The Greely High Rangers extended their reign as Class B swimming and diving champions Monday at the University of Maine pool with a convincing win in the 2011 state neet. Coach Bob Hale’s Rangers also won the 2010 title.
Monday’s title marks the first time since 1981 and 1982 that the Rangers have won consecutive championships. The Rangers amassed 396 points. Ellsworth’s Eagles, in an impressive performance of racing, finished second at 261. Mount Desert Island scored third at 200.
“We seized the opportunity. I told the kids we had to swim fast tonight. In the trials, we swam very well. We had 100 percent best times in the trials and tonight we had swimmers still turning in best times,” Hale said of his team’s performance.
Hale’s Rangers qualified third in the morning’s trials in the first event, the 200-medley relay. Obviously, the Rangers had no intention of finishing third in the finals as they simply blazed in the finals winning in 1:43.4, 2 seconds ahead of Ellsworth, the silver medalist relay. After the backstroke leg, Greely was two-tenths off Ellsworth’s pace. But, a 29.2 breaststroke split from Ian Mecray gave the Rangers nearly a second lead which they would extend thanks to a sizzling 21.6 anchor split from Danny Spencer, who moments earlier had sung America’s national anthem to open the meet.
With his heart rate elevated and his body still wet from the relay, Spencer prepared to race Waterville’s talented Mody Gad in the 200 free. The pair treated the capacity crowd to one of the meet’s highlight races. Gad took the field out fast turning a 51.8 100 to lead Spencer by a second. However, on the third 50, Spencer pulled within fractions of a second of Gad and actually led very slightly off the last turn before Waterville’s swimmer found another stroke gear and retook the lead approaching the finish to nab the gold 1:48.2 to 1:48.3.
Three other Rangers scored in the event. Ellsworth’s Maks Grover was third. Greely led 76 to 68.
Foxcroft Academy’s Cam Fadley was the fourth qualifier in the 200 individual medley following his 2:10 trials swim.
Fadley, obviously, had a strategy to his racing. In the finals, he flew to a fly lead in 25.2 and trailed the leader by only a half a second at the half of the race. He then simply outclassed the field on the breaststroke leg by two seconds to retake the lead, a lead he stretched with 28.2 freestyle. His 2:00.6 finish was ten seconds faster than his trial time and the sophomore collected the gold for 2011.
Greely placed four swimmers with three in the top six to collect a bundle of points and in doing so led by 39 points.
Greely’s Mecray rested from his relay swim, led off the blocks, out of the turn, and at the finish in the 50 free (22.3) for the win. Three other Rangers scored as Hale’s boys continued to outscore the field. Foxcroft’s Donnie Boyer, PVC champion in the 50 free, finished second.
Ellsworth’s Keith Chandler, who previewed his speed on the fly leg of the opening relay, (23.7) displayed his speed for four lengths in the 100 fly (52.8) to win the gold. Cam Dwyer, Orono’s versatile junior racer, lowered his trial time to 55.4 for the silver medal.
It was Ranger Spencer who ignited his team and the fans from Cumberland in the second half after Greely had scored only one swimmer in the fly field. Spencer (48.9) and teammate Mecray (49.6) nabbed the gold and the bronze, respectively in the 100 free. Waterville’s Gad slipped into second with an aggressive swim the second half of the 100 to win the silver at 49.5
Donnie Boyer finished fourth for Foxcroft.
The seeds suggested the 500 free would be a nip and tuck race. However, Ellsworth” Maks Grover sailed away from the field in a dominating swim to win by 12 seconds to slide under the 5-minute mark in an impressive 4:59. Greely scored three swimmers. John Bapst’s Bryan Teisel finished fourth.
The 200 free relay was loaded with speedsters. Hale’s relay turned in the speediest time (1:43.4) by a second and a half to claim the second win in a relay for Greely. Greely’s win pushed the Rangers over the 300 points with 3 events still remaining.
In the 100 back, seven schools were represented in the field. Actually, Gary Isherwood’s John Bapst swimmers were the only team to have two swimmers among the top eight finalists. The gold was won by Waterville’s Nico Schultz in a strong swim at 55. Second place went to a Ranger, Evan Campbell at 57.9 and Dwyer, swimming his third race in the second half of the meet, nabbed third at 58.2.
Ellsworth’s Chandler won his second gold of the meet in the 100 breaststroke with a fiery 1:01.2. Chandler’s two golds and his relay swims, earned him Swimmer of the Meet. Fadley, who swam so well in the individual medley, continued his outstanding racing with an impressive 1:03.9 second place. MDI’s Jason Carbone was third.
At the scorer’s table prior to the last event, Hale said, “We want to win three relays. We have never done that in a state meet.”
Three minutes and 24 seconds after the start of the race, the Rangers had won their third relay. However, it took a 48.2 split from Spencer to give the Rangers the win over a keenly competitive Eagle relay.
Jim Goodman’s Ellsworth Eagles were voted the Sportsmanship Award.