A month ago, when mononucleosis had ravaged his lineup, Cheverus High swim coach Kevin Haley lamented what might have been for the strongest, deepest team in his quarter century of coaching.
Now, after a dominating performance at the North Southwesterns, the Stags have regained some of their swagger.
They’ll attempt to end a six-year Bangor High reign as the Swimming and Diving State Championship meets get underway Monday. Class A will be held at Gleason Pool on the campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Class B will be held at the University of Maine’s Wallace Pool in Orono.
In both classes, trials take place in the morning and championship finals in the evening. The boys go Monday and the girls Tuesday.
Here’s a look at each state meet:
CLASS A BOYS: On paper, Cheverus has a 56-point edge over Bangor in terms of individual seedings. That is, without relays. The Rams have the top four seeds in diving and will pick up big points off the board.
In the pool, however, Cheverus has the edge in every other individual event save the breast stroke, and if Stags junior John Devine, the ninth seed, can swim his way into the championship eight, the race could be a wash.
Best race of the night could be the 100-yard butterfly final between Bangor junior David Smallwood, the top seed, and Cheverus senior Trebor Lawton, top seed in the backstroke.
Something else to look for: Scarborough senior Jerry Gravel will go after his brother Robby’s 200 individual medley state record of 1:55.08.
CLASS A GIRLS: Bangor is seeking a third straight title, but this meet appears to be the most competitive of the four.
Without relays, Cape Elizabeth holds a 10-point advantage over Bangor according to seeding, with Brunswick only eight points further back. Deering and Cheverus are also in the mix.
Add in relays and it gets even closer, because Brunswick is seeded first in the 200 freestyle relay and second in the other two.
“It should be a great meet,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Ben Raymond, whose girls are coming off a tightly-contested Southwesterns victory over defending Class B state champ Greely. “I think our performance at the Southwesterns gave the girls some more confidence.”
While Brunswick (Jessica Russell) and Bangor (Emma Waddell) each has a top seed (Waddell in both 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly), the Capers rely instead on depth, particularly in freestyle sprints. Only Sydney Wight (third in butterfly, fourth in 200 free) is seeded among the top four.
Cape’s medley relay team is within reach of the meet record, should Raymond choose to load it. Mt. Ararat senior Celia Ouellette’s seed time of 24.02 seconds is faster than the meet record (24.20) set by Abbie King of Brunswick in 2003.
Kennebunk senior diver Tori Leonard has scored 411.15 — within five points of Stacy Cooper’s 1989 meet record.
In the 100 backstroke, Cheverus junior Sarah Nappo is only a tenth of a second shy of the 57.69 meet record set by Sanford’s Jenni Roberts in 2009.
CLASS B BOYS: Of the four 2012 state champions, Greely is best positioned to defend its title. The Rangers have a deep and talented squad capable of winning a fourth straight crown by covering every event except diving.
If seeding holds — it never does — Greely would hold a 42-point edge in individual events over Mt. Desert Island and 44 over Yarmouth, so the battle here is likely for second place, barring a relay disqualification or other anomaly.
Then again, Greely’s relays are seeded third, fifth and sixth, so the meet isn’t a slam dunk. Look for the Rangers to surge in the 200 IM (with top seed Jonathan Dunnett), 50 free, 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. In each event, they have either three potential scorers or, in the case of backstroke, two among the top five seeds.
As for records, Yarmouth senior Evan Coleman is within a tenth of Justin Gilmartin’s 2008 backstroke meet mark of 53.36, but the state record held by James Wells (49.68) is probably safe.
CLASS B GIRLS: There hasn’t been a repeat champion since Falmouth ended a four-year run in 2007, and Greely is looking up at both MDI and Camden Hills on seeding sheets.
Discounting relays, MDI holds a 13-point lead over Camden Hills with Greely another 21 back and Waynflete another 31 behind.
That certainly sets the stage for a competitive meet in which relays can turn the tide.
Senior Sarah Easterling and freshman Hwanhee Park of Greely are top seeds in two events, Easterling in the 200 IM and 100 back and Park in the 200 and 500 free.
Easterling already owns the backstroke meet record of 59.40 — nearly two seconds slower than her seed time — and will shoot for the 56.90 state record held by Roberts since 2010.
McAuley grad Kary Goodman’s 100 butterfly meet record of 57.45 set in 2003 is also in jeopardy from Waynflete juniors Ellen Silk and Colby Harvey. Ditto for the 100 breast meet record of 1:07.01 set by Falmouth’s Gina Mancini in 2004; Foxcroft sophomore Jules Annis has gone under 1:09.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: