ORONO — The biggest meet of the year thus far for the Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island boys’ swim teams couldn’t have been any closer — literally.
The Ellsworth swim team won the Penobscot Valley Conference boys’ championship meet in thrilling fashion Friday evening when it edged MDI 269-268 for first place at the University of Maine. The win gave the Eagles their second PVC crown in three years as the team prepares to compete in the Class B state championships next week.
“The score flip-flopped during most of the meet,” Ellsworth head coach Jim Goodman said. “It came down to the last event against a very determined and talented MDI team of awesome swimmers.”
Ellsworth was in first place with three events to go, strong individual performances from MDI in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle had brought the Trojans to within eight points of the Eagles at 197-189. Ellsworth’s lead was then cut to 211-210 after Tyler Willis and Cody Parker finished third and sixth, respectively, in the 500-yard freestyle.
The Trojans took the lead from Ellsworth with one meet to go when a win in the 200-yard freestyle relay gave it a 242-237 edge, but it was short-lived. Ellsworth’s four-person team of Sean Hill, Austin Baron, Richie Matthews and Camden Holmes edged an MDI squad consisting of Tyler Willis, Amos Price, Jacob Mitchell and Liam Sullivan by 7.43 seconds to give the Eagles PVC glory.
“I actually didn’t know until it was getting down to the wire there that it was that close,” MDI head coach Tony DeMuro said. “I saw we were up one when they were announcing it with the 4-by-100 free coming up, but I knew we weren’t going to hold on because that was one of Ellsworth’s best events.”
Although Ellsworth’s clutch win in the final event was its most meaningful of the day because of its point significance, it was far from the Eagles’ only triumph. Pelletier joined Baron, Matthews and Holmes to win the 200-yard medley relay in 1 minute, 41.88 seconds, and Holmes later won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.53 seconds.
Despite coming up one point short, the Trojans were content with the outcome. MDI lost to the Ellsworth boys by 29 points when the teams met in a dual meet back in December, and fighting the Eagles to a virtual tie this time around was a sign of how far DeMuro’s team had come.
“With us, we’re singularly focused on winning that state meet,” DeMuro said. “We didn’t have our fast suits on, whereas all the other teams did. It was much closer than anyone expected it to be.”
MDI and Ellsworth also enjoyed excellent performances on the girls’ side Saturday afternoon. The Trojans scored a total of 185 points to place third of 12 teams, and the Eagles claimed fifth with 150.5 points.
Ellie Clarke set a team record in the 50 freestyle on the girls’ side with a winning time of 25.35 seconds. She later added a win in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:02.07.
“The girls achieved many personal best times and accomplished many personal and team goals,” Goodman said. “It was a very exciting and challenging weekend.”
The George Stevens Academy girls’ team finished eighth overall with 60 points. Senior Ava Sealander earned a pair of individual wins for the Eagles with a 5:25.85 finish in the 500-yard freestyle and a 1:09.47 finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Anthony Wardwell was the only competitor in the 1-meter diving event. The Bucksport senior, who competes with Brewer High School because the Golden Bucks do not sponsor the sport at the varsity level, finished with a score of 431.7 after three dives.
The next meet for Class B teams will be the upcoming state championships at Bowdoin College. The girls’ championships will be held Monday, Feb. 19, and the boys’ championships will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20. Those meets will be held at 11 a.m. on their respective days.