ORONO — Old Town senior Jacob Ketch stood on the starting block awaiting his anchor leg of the 200-yard medley relay, the opening race of the Class B state championship meet Saturday.

A few decades ago, the Coyotes were dominant in Maine high school swimming and diving. They won 14 straight Class B titles between 1985 and 1998.

But since then there had been only one state championship, in 2003. Ketch knew the dry spell could end and he could set the tone by winning the first race.

Problem was, two lanes away, Mount Desert Island was swimming a lot faster than its seed time.

“Actually I looked to the left and I thought we had the lead,” Ketch said. “Then I look to the right and I see MDI ahead of us. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m going to have to swim pretty fast if I want to pull this off.’ It ended up being very close.”

Ketch managed to catch MDI anchor Hutchin Gerrish at the wall to win by two- hundredths of a second, in a school- record time of 1 minute, 40.46 seconds, set by an all-senior quartet that included Nick Gould in backstroke, Noah Burr in breast and Nate St. Jean in butterfly.

Old Town added another Ketch-anchored relay, in the 200 free, that set school and meet records in 1:29.57. The Coyotes wound up clinching the title before the final 400 free relay, in which they placed fourth.

“We had to gamble somewhere so I took a little bit of a gamble on that (medley) relay and MDI made us work for it,” Old Town Coach Dave Ploch said. “They swam hot. MDI was phenomenal.”

Old Town finished with 327 points in the meet at the University of Maine. Ellsworth edged Morse for the runner-up trophy, 280-278, by taking third in the 400 free relay to Morse’s fifth.

“The guys did an awesome job,” said Ellsworth Coach Jim Goodman, who saw his team claim three individual titles. “Tight races all over the place.”

Cape Elizabeth finished fourth with 261 followed by MDI (242), Belfast (166) and 15 others.

Ellsworth sophomore Camden Holmes, who won the 100 free in 48.27 and 200 free in 1:49.76, was Performer of the Meet.

A strong case could be made for MDI sophomore Liam Sullivan, who won the 200 individual medley by more than four seconds in 1:57.41 and set the only individual meet record. Sullivan won the 100 breast, also by more than four seconds, in 58.47 to beat by a tenth the 26-year-old mark set by Bruce Crock of MDI in 1991.

The only other individual double winner was Gould, the Old Town senior who took the 100 butterfly by two seconds in 52.22 and 100 back by three in 53.07.

“We were seeded ahead by probably 10 points,,” Gould said, “but we knew we needed to gain a little more if we wanted it, because everyone else wanted it, too.”

Other individual winners, all seniors: Morse’s Tucker Banger (21.84 in the 50 free), Ellsworth’s Sam Alvarado (4:58.98 in the 500 free) and Nate Hayward of Wells (355.50 points in diving).

Hayward, a two-time Class B champ, was the only male diver to qualify for the state meet. On Monday, there will be 17 female divers in the Class B finals.

“Last year I went up against a senior from MDI,” Hayward said. “That was nice because we pushed each other to do better. This year I went into it knowing I wouldn’t have any competition, which is a letdown because it’s my senior year.”

Because Wells has no swim team, Hayward practices with Kennebunk.

“They made me feel like I had a team here,” he said. “I may have been the only diver but I had my team backing me up.”

MDI won the concluding 400 free relay, but Old Town clinched the meet after the breast stroke thanks to a 47-point lead over Morse and 49 over Ellsworth.

Last month, Old Town lost a senior swimmer to cancer, a disease Aaron Ricker fought for seven years. On Saturday they wore his initials on the sleeve of their dark green T-shirts. His parents, David and Carlene, were in the stands.

“Ever since our friend Aaron passed away, we’ve been swimming and striving to do well for him,” Ketch said. “I feel like we’ve made him proud by winning.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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This story was updated at 11:35 p.m. on Feb. 18 to correctly identify the Performer of the Meet as Camden Holmes of Ellsworth.