ORONO, Maine — For senior Meri Wicks of Bangor, winning a second straight state Class A swimming and diving championship is not all about the swimming and diving.
“You can be the best swimmer out there, but without a team, you get nowhere,” she said after Bangor held off a challenge by Messalonskee of Oakland on Monday.
Mariah Reading, also a senior but in her first year swimming for the Rams, noticed that right away.
“We’re a family,” she said. “We’re so closely knight, it helps a lot. We’re all supportive of each other.”
Reading said she was nervous before the Penobscot Valley Conference championships on Feb. 11 but not on Monday.
“This time I was excited,” she said. “I decided to give it my all, try my hardest and it paid off.”
Wicks and Reading were a couple of the key components of Bangor’s relay teams that gave the team a significant point boost.
The Rams scored 319 points at the University of Maine’s Stanley M. Wallace Pool as they turned back Messalonskee, which came in second with 277.
“Being at Orono, it was like being home,” said Wicks.
Cape Elizabeth took third with 234, and Deering of Portland came in fourth with 165. Brewer, the only other Class A team north of Fairfield, tied for 21st with 15 points.
Genevieve Worthley of Deering, who posted a pair of wins, including breaking the state and meet records in the 100-yard breaststroke, was named performer of the meet. Deering also won the sportsmanship award.
Bangor opened the finals on a high note by shattering the meet record in the 200 medley relay.
After Juliana McDonald and Reading swam the first two legs, Emma Waddell’s 25.2-second butterfly clocking in the third leg wiped out a 3.5-second deficit and set up Wicks’ 24.88 free that secured the win and record in 1:51.62. That topped second-place Cape Elizabeth by 1.5 seconds and shattered the state meet record of 1:53.72. Cape still holds the state mark of 1:50.19, set last month.
But the Eagles of Messalonskee started making their move in the the second event, the 200 freestyle, by taking three of the top eight spots. Senior Lindsey Prelgovisk won in 1:55.98, well ahead of runner-up Jamie Hunsaker of Bangor (1:59.62). The Eagles’ Sam Briggs took sixth and Ally Fischang was eighth, giving Messalonskee 44 points.
Worthley raced to victory in the 200 individual medley, upsetting top two seeds Waddell and Reading, who finished second and third, respectively. Worthley finished in 2:09.03, Waddell in 2:09.54 and Reading in 2:10.20.
Celia Ouellette of Mount Ararat of Topsham just missed the meet record in the 50 free, winning in 24.33 seconds. The old record of 24.20 was set in 2003. Kristy Prelgovisk of Messalonskee took second (25.29) after qualifying eighth and prevented Bangor from gaining ground on the Eagles. Elaine Miller of Windham was third (25.30) and Bangor’s Wicks fourth (25.54).
The Rams of Bangor regained the lead by taking three of the top 10 spots in the 1-meter diving. Messalonskee was hampered by not having any divers.
Tori Leonard of Kennebunk won the 11-dive competition with 305.25 points, with Elizabeth Huber of Bangor second at 296.15. Bangor’s Allie Rowe was sixth and Emily Daub 10th to give the Rams 37 points for the event.
Waddell added an individual title in the 100 fly, beating runner-up Emma Pontius of Deering by more than two seconds, 57.32 to 59.75. The Rams’ McDonald was third at 1:01.49, and teammate Alyssa Reardon took ninth as Bangor grabbed another 45 points. The Eagles were also shut out in the fly.
Ouellette claimed her second individual crown with a win in the 100 free in 53.84 seconds. Victoria Weber was second (54.01) and Elaine Miller of Windham third (55.56).
Jessica Russell of Brunswick cruised home well ahead of the field in the 500 free, posting a 5:06.90. Hunsaker was a distant second in 5:22.36. Karina Urquhart of Sanford took third (5:31.16).
Bangor just missed matching the state record in the 200 free relay as the quartet of Reading, McDonald, Wicks and Waddell finished in 1:39.44, just .03 seconds off the state mark set by Falmouth in 2006. They also broke the meet record of 1:43 in the prelims with a 1:41.68 before resetting it in the final. Messalonskee was second in 1:41.27.
“I told the girls to grow their nails long next year,” said Bangor coach Cindi Howard, who was smiling despite being drenched after the jumping-in-the-pool title celebration.
The Dragons’ Russell also became a multi-event individual winner by taking the 100 backstroke in 58.67, while Hannah Homans of Falmouth out-touched top qualifier Lindsey Prelgovisk of Messalonskee 59.68 to 59.69 for second.
Worthley of Deering toppled her own state and meet records in the 100 breaststroke when she touched in 1:04.97. The old record of 1:05.08 was set at last year’s state championships.
Bangor had the title sewed up before Messalonskee collected the final victory in the 400 free relay (3:47.27) with Cony second (3:53.28), Deering third (3:55.22) and Bangor sixth (4:00.51).
“The girls were pumped up,” said Howard. “I knew they had to come in with that type of attitude.”
Howard also pointed to the performances by Waddell and Hunsaker.
“[Waddell] had her IM record broken twice, and I think she broke her fly record twice,” said Howard.
“And Hunsaker was strong in the 200 and 500 [frees],” she added.
The Rams won state titles from 2006 through 2008.
“I’m hoping we can [keep it going],” said Howard.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. Bangor’s Alyssa Reardon finished ninth, not 10th, in the 100 butterfly and her first name is Alyssa, not Allison.