February 19

Class B boys’ swimming: Greely extends title reign

The Rangers capture their fifth straight state championship.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BRUNSWICK — In terms of points, the most important factors in Greely winning its fifth straight Class B boys’ swimming and diving state championship Tuesday afternoon were individual victories by seniors Jonathan Dunnett and Jack Benoit, who joined classmates Griffin Fluet and Connor Russell to win the meet-opening 200-yard medley relay.

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Griffin Fluet of Greely surfaces for air during the 100-yard breast stroke. Fluet finished fourth, helping Greely win its fifth straight team championship.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Julian Abaldo, Mark McCluskey and Kyle Crans of Camden Hills react to a time by one of their teammates during the Class B boys’ swimming meet Tuesday at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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In terms of attitude and atmosphere, however, a freshman in the slowest heat of the first individual event, a kid who just missed making the field of 16 scoring swimmers, dropped five seconds from his seed time to set a triumphant tone on an unusual day at Gleason Pool on the campus of Bowdoin College.

“This meet was won on our very first (indvidual) swim (Tuesday morning), by Will Russell,” Greely Coach Rob Hale said. “If it goes well, everybody looks around and goes, ‘We’re on!’ He had a big drop, and everybody knew we were going to swim well.”

Indeed, despite having no divers and no points in the 50 freestyle, the Rangers took a first (200 medley), second (400 free) and third (200 free) in relays and swam to a 26-point victory over runner-up Morse of Bath, 289-263.

“We all did best times,” said Morse Coach Todd Marco, “so we can’t complain about how our swims went. We just had to be a little bit better.”

Cape Elizabeth, at 196 points, won a three-team battle for third by a single point over Camden Hills and Mt. Desert Island in a 26-team meet truncated from its normal morning trials and evening finals by a snowy weather forecast.

In the interest of safe travel home from the meet, Maine Principals’ Association officials canceled the evening finals and turned morning trials into timed finals.

“The atmosphere is a little more calm, but everybody is swimming fast,” Dunnett said after adding the 100 butterfly title to his earlier victory in the 200 individual medley. “I like to say I go out in the morning 100 percent and come back at night 110 percent, so I guess we had to bring that 110 percent in the morning.”

Dunnett broke a school record with his time of 1 minute, 57.14 seconds in the IM, eclipsing by nearly a second the standard set in 1980 by Rob Sommers. Dunnett also lowered by another second his own school record in the butterfly, to 52.30. He was named performer of the meet.

The only other individual double winner was Camden Hills sophomore Julian Abaldo, who took the 200 and 500 freestyle.

Other individual winners included MDI junior diver Will Greene with 383.20 points, MDI sophomore Thomas Gallup in the 100 breast stroke (59.20), Ellsworth sophomore Talor Hamilton in the 100 free (48.56) and Greely senior Jack Benoit in the 100 backstroke (56.05).

“Backstroke has always been my thing,” Benoit said. “So I’m very happy I was able to (win) that.”

Leading by 14 points entering the final 400 free relay and needing at least fifth place to clinch the overall title, Greely placed second behind Camden Hills with a quartet anchored by Benoit that also included Dunnett, sophomore Connor Rog and junior Ryan Plante.

“It was a great way to end it,” said Benoit, who admitted to feeling wistful between the lane lines. “Obviously, I’m a senior and I’m not sure about swimming in college. So just getting in and that being my last race, that hit me pretty hard. Right in the middle of it, too.”

Benoit also added a third in the 100 free. Fluet chipped it with a fourth in breast stroke and sixth in butterfly. Fellow senior Connor Russell was eighth in breast stroke and 11th in the 100 free.

Other individual scorers for Greely: Plante (fourth in back and 100 free) and fellow junior Jordan Merrifield (13th in 200 and 500 free), Rog (seventh in 200 IM, eighth in 500 free) and the aforementioned freshman, Russell, who after placing 17th in that opening 200 free lopped a whopping 19 seconds off his previous best in the 500 free to leapfrog six swimmers with faster seed times and grab 16th.

“The team feeling that (Hale) is able to get going for us is definitely the biggest part,” Benoit said of Greely’s five-year reign. “You really feel like you’re swimming for a family in here, so it’s not possible to let them down.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

Gjordan@pressherald.com

\Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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