ORONO, Maine — The seniors on Greely High School’s boys swim team were quite familiar with the scene, having watched Mount Desert Island celebrate state championships each of the previous three years.
Saturday night, they no longer had to wonder what it felt like after making it look easy with a 102-point victory over the six-time defending state champions at the University of Maine’s Wallace Pool.
Head coach Rob Hale’s Rangers of Cumberland Center put a whopping 360 points to swamp the rest of the talented field and earn their first boys swim title in 11 years.
“They brought the best out of us the last three to five years and they brought the best out of us today,” said Hale. “I’m just very happy for my seniors, who have given a lot to the program the last four years.”
MDI was runner-up with 258 points, Belfast finished third with 234, Ellsworth fourth with 186, and Foxcroft Academy fifth with 147.
“We’re not as deep as we have been in the past,” said MDI coach Tony DeMuro. “It’s been a struggle this year, but they came out and swam with a lot of heart and passion and did very well, but Greely had too much talent.”
The Rangers only took four first-place finishes out of a possible 12 — two of them in relay races — but got plenty of points in all other places to more than make up for it.
“We kind of turned the tide on them by having more depth and getting those third/fourth swimmers like they have in the past,” Hale said.
Ian Carbone of MDI got off to a quick start, literally and figuratively, with a win in the third event of the night, the 200-yard individual medley, with a time of 2 minutes, 0.58 seconds.
The Trojans’ senior standout also finished with a flourish, easily winning a 100 breaststroke packed with talent by a full two seconds with a time of 1:00.79. Carbone remained unbeaten in the race this season and handed Foxcroft Academy’s Seth Oldfield his first loss this season. Greely’s Patrick Bowden was second and Oldfield third.
Carbone also swam the anchor leg of MDI’s 400 free relay and clocked a scalding 48.40, but the Trojans still finished a little more than a second behind Greely, which took first in 3:24.53.
“I wanted to go faster in all of them, but I was pretty happy with the way I swam that last relay. I thought I’d catch their kid, but he swam out of his mind,” said Carbone, who accepted a full swimming scholarship from Duquesne University, but lost it when the school discontinued its swim programs two months later.
“It didn’t end the way I wanted it to, but Greely swam an amazing meet and they deserved it as much as anybody.”
Old Town’s Robbie Bickford, who came into the meet unbeaten in the 500 freestyle and once-beaten in the 200 free, won an individual state title in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:49.92.
The Coyotes’ senior also gave freestyle ace and prohibitive favorite Chang Won Ho from Hyde School in Bath a run for his money in the 500 freestyle by shaving nearly six full seconds off his personal best time. Bickford (5:03.74) was runner-up to Won Ho, who finished with a time of 5:02.53, by 1.21 seconds.
“I liked the 200 free probably more than the 500, but it was a great race. I wanted to go under 5 minutes this year, but didn’t quite make it. I was really proud of my time in the 200,” said Bickford, who won the 100 free state title last year.
Won Ho was named the meet’s outstanding swimmer after winning both the 100 butterfly and 500 free, anchoring Hyde School’s first-place 200 free relay team, and setting a meet record in the 100 fly with a preliminary swim time of 51.03 seconds.
The meet was a bittersweet one for Rockland junior Tyler Arndt. The top seed in the 100 backstroke won the event by edging Greely’s John Madeira by .23 seconds with a time of 57.29, but finished second in the 100 freestyle — in which he was also seeded first — by .20 seconds to second seed Dan Spencer of Greely.
Old Town won the meet team sportsmanship award.
“It’s all about having fun and doing as well as you can,” said Bickford. “Back in the day, we had big numbers and could overwhelm everyone, but now we just do what we can with the quality we have.”