BRUNSWICK — The script was written virtually ahead of time for the Bangor High School girls varsity swim team’s return to state championship status.
Even before the daylong preliminary swims determining seedings for the consolation and championship swims Monday evening, the young Rams were primed to contend for their first state title in three years with 18 of their 41 team members qualified for Monday’s Class A state meet competition.
From that solid nucleus, 12 qualified for championship finals either in swimming or diving.
From there, all the Rams had to do was avoid letdowns and not make any crucial mistakes leading to disqualifications and it would be smooth sailing in the otherwise choppy waters of Bowdoin College’s Greason Pool.
They did just that and then some, finishing with 305 points and outdistancing runner-up Morse of Bath by 33 points — the exact same number of points three Bangor divers scored in the 1-meter championship finals. Morse had no divers in the competition.
“That definitely helped, and it shows how important it is to have girls in as many events as possible, because you never know where the key points will come from,” said Bangor head coach Cindi Howard, whose Rams won their fourth state crown in her nine years as girls head coach.
The Rams were paced by their relay teams, which won the 400-meter freestyle relay to end the day’s competition in dramatic — and emphatic — fashion after finishing second in the 200 medley relay to start the finals and fourth in the 200 free relay.
“I think the first relay set the tone for the meet, even though we didn’t win,” said freshman Emma Waddell. “We were seeded fourth after the prelims, so finishing second really got us pumped and got us going.”
Individually, the Rams were led by some of their younger swimmers as Waddell swam the third leg of the second-place 200 medley relay, finished second in the 200 individual medley, won the 100 butterfly (58.25 seconds) and anchored the winning 400 free relay.
“I think we were all a little nervous, but doing the relay gave me that adrenaline rush I needed because I had to swim my 200 free right after,” said sophomore Jamie Hunsaker, who won the 200 free with a time of 2:00.21.
Hunsaker also swam the second leg of the 200 medley relay, won the 500 freestyle and swam the second leg of the 400 free relay.
Other standouts included senior Julie Clifford, who was second in the diving; junior Meri Wicks, who swam the lead leg of the 400 free relay and the anchor of the 200 medley relay as well as taking seventh in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 free; freshman Juliana McDonald, who swam the lead leg of the 200 medley relay and was fifth in the 100 backstroke; and senior Jenny Dickson.
“I didn’t start swimming until my sophomore year, so this is my first state title,” said Dickson, who swam second leg on the 200 free relay team and third on the 400 free relay. “We’re pretty young and we weren’t even one of the top five teams to watch at all early on, but we really meshed and hit on our doubles over Christmas break and this has been so much fun!”
After winning three straight titles from 2006 through 2008, Howard hopes to start another run.
“I knew the girls were ready for this. They were pretty loose, especially after some of the girls did better than they were seeded in the consolation finals,” said Howard. “We’re a young team, but we didn’t act like it.”
Morse swimmer Emily Buczkowski was named swimmer of the meet with firsts in the 50 and 100 freestyle races and firsts in her relays (lead leg of the winning 200 medley relay and anchor of the first-place 200 free relay).
Third-place Cheverus of Portland was presented the sportsmanship award for a third straight year.
Messalonskee of Oakland was fourth at 192 and Cony of Augusta seventh with 120. Brewer was 21st with 23 points and Lawrence of Fairfield 23rd with 19.