ORONO — Few opponents have been able to win consistently against Mount Desert Island or Ellsworth swimmers this year. The biggest meet of the 2019-20 season thus far was hardly any different.
MDI and Ellsworth put forth some of the top efforts at Saturday’s Penobscot Valley Conference championship meet at the University of Maine. MDI claimed both the boys’ and girls’ titles, and Ellsworth had a number of individual and relay wins with senior Caitlin MacPherson being chosen as Swimmer of the Meet.
“This was the outcome we were looking for from this meet, for sure,” MDI head coach David Blaney said. “We had good results and improved times just about everywhere, and it was smiles and good times all around.”
On the girls’ side, Ruby Brown got second-place and fifth-place finishes for MDI with times of 58.10 seconds and 2 minutes, 28.89 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley, respectively. The Trojans also got a second-place finish from Cecilia Saltysiak in the 100-yard backstroke and third-place relay finishes in the 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle.
The Trojans’ score of 323 came as they used their massive squad depth to rack up large point totals across every event to add a PVC title to their undefeated season. Even though MDI didn’t have a first-place finisher, the Trojans’ sheer quantity of third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishers was enough to put them well over the top.
“Some of the other teams will get a lot of people get first or second, but we will have so many girls finish in those next few spots,” Brown said. “That’s what really got us the points and brought us home.”
The MDI boys won the 200-yard freestyle relay as the unit of Brendan Graves, Jon Genrich, Tyler Willis and Sam Mitchell finished with a time of 1:39.43. The Trojans added third-place finishes in the 200 medley and 400-yard freestyle relays.
Individually, Graves added a win in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:06.56. Sam Mitchell added a first-place finish in the 1-meter dive with a score of 273.45, and the senior nearly added another in the 50-yard freestyle as his time of 24.49 seconds was just 0.03 behind winner Griffin Erb of Bangor.
As a team, the Trojans registered 347 points to top Bangor’s 270. The win marked the first PVC championship crown since 2008 for the MDI boys, who finished second to Ellsworth in 2018 and 2019.
Despite entering the competition with a much smaller roster than many of its competitors, Ellsworth claimed third place in both the boys’ and girls’ team competitions. The Eagles scored 170 points on the boys’ side and 212 on the girls’ side.
The Ellsworth boys got a pair of individual event wins from junior Sean Hill, who placed first in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles. Hill also participated on the 200 medley (Nick Partridge, Lucas Fendl and Ryan Ulichny) and 200 freestyle (Partridge, Fendl and Robert Springer) relay teams, both of which claimed second place.
On the girls’ side, Ellsworth’s Kristy Barry breezed to victory in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:01.20, a new team record. Barry joined Ellie Anderson, Caitlin MacPherson and Caroline Mazgaj on the Eagles’ 400 freestyle relay team, which also claimed a first-place finish and team record with a time of 3:52.69.
MacPherson, who took first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:08:00, was named Swimmer of the Meet. She added a second-place finish in the 500 freestyle and also joined Barry, Mazgaj and Anderson on the Eagles’ second-place 200 freestyle relay team.
“All of the girls had great times,” Ellsworth head coach Jim Goodman said. “Although the boys were down one swimmer from the team, leaving seven [swimmers], they pushed their efforts [and outdid] all expectations.”
Boys’ and girls’ events were originally supposed to be held over two days with the boys competing Friday evening at Husson University, but with the icy road conditions, the decision was made to have both meets Saturday at UMaine. With the girls competing at 1 p.m. and the boys competing at 6, the schools had to bus their boys and girls to Orono separately.
“It was unfortunate that we couldn’t all ride all together or have the coaches all be together, but it’s just one of those things where that’s the way it is,” Brown said. “We were there with each other in spirit.”
The teams will close out the 2019-20 swim season next week with the state championships at Bowdoin College. The girls will compete at 11 a.m. next Monday, Feb. 17, and the boys will be in action at that time the following day, Feb. 18.
“We know the season will be over when that bus comes back to Mount Desert Island Tuesday night, and everyone wants to leave their best for last,” Blaney said. “We know there’s going to be some fun races down there in the southland.”