Cape Elizabeth celebrates after winning the Class B girls’ swimming state championship on Tuesday in Cape Elizabeth. Glenn Jordan photo

CAPE ELIZABETH — Before sending his 400-yard freestyle relay team to the starting blocks for the final event of the Class B girls’ swimming and diving state championship meet, Cape Elizabeth Coach Ben Raymond had some words of encouragement.

He didn’t talk about the three-point difference separating the Capers from defending champion Mt. Desert Island. Nor did he mention the relative youthfulness of the quartet, which included two freshmen and a sophomore.

Instead, he zeroed in on Ali Bragg, scheduled to swim the third leg. Bragg had been forced to miss the always-entertaining North Southwesterns earlier this month.

“You wouldn’t want the last meet of your senior year to come out any other way,” Raymond said, “than having to get in the pool and swim a really meaningful race.”

Bragg entered the water trailing a swimmer in an adjacent lane. By the time she touched the wall to allow sophomore Cookie Mahoney to begin her anchor leg, Cape Elizabeth held a lead it never relinquished.

The Capers won the final relay by nearly four seconds over top seed Greely – in 3 minutes, 40.88 seconds – and more than 13 seconds over MDI to clinch the Class B state title Tuesday night at their own Richards Pool.

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Cape Elizabeth finished with 338 points to 327 for MDI. Greely came up just shy of Ellsworth in the battle for third, followed by 15 other schools.

“All I kept saying to the team,” Bragg said, “was, ‘Leave it all in the pool! Leave it all in the pool! We just had to (protect) those three points. The girls showed up and I’m beyond excited.”

The championship came one night after the Cape Elizabeth boys also earned a Class B title and marked the school’s first such sweep since 1992. MDI pulled off the same double in 2020.

Freshmen Lucy Shaw and Hope Taylor swam the first two legs of the final relay. Earlier, Taylor won the 500 freestyle and placed 10th in the 50 free. Like Bragg, she missed Southwesterns (won by Greely), because of a shoulder issue.

Bragg said a foot injury caused her to trip and hit her head, resulting in the concussion that kept her out of the pool until last week. On Tuesday night, she won the 200 individual medley (2:12.56) and was runner-up in the 100 breast stroke to Greely sophomore Audrey Cohen.

Cohen broke a state record in that race. Her time of 1:03.27 lowered the mark established in 2013 by Genna Worthley of Deering and set off a wild celebration among her teammates.

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“The last 15 meters, I could hear everyone cheering, so I knew I was close,” said Cohen, who also won the 50 free. “It was a great atmosphere here.”

Mahoney was the meet’s only other double winner. She took the 100 and 200 freestyle. Shaw added a second (200 IM) and a third (100 butterfly). Sophomore Hadley Mahoney placed fourth (500 free) and sixth (200 free). Senior Stephanie te Boekhorst was fourth in diving.

“I’m so happy I was able to swim at states with these girls,” Bragg said. “We had such a strong team, with so much depth.”

Ellsworth won the other two relays, the 200 medley and 200 free. Freshman Ella Montgomery won the 100 butterfly and sophomore Kaela Springer led a 1-2-3 sweep in diving, held Saturday in South Portland.

The meet’s other individual winner was Greely sophomore Abby Hollis in the 100 backstroke. Yarmouth sophomore Alexandra Ericson was seeded first in both the backstroke and 200 IM, but a shoulder injury limited her to the breast stroke leg of the 200 medley relay.

MDI entered the meet as the fourth-best team according to seed times. The Trojans kept creeping up, however, and forced a dramatic conclusion.

“I was pretty pleased with it coming down to that last relay, with the girls we had in that last relay,” Raymond said. “We couldn’t have had four better girls to swim that.”


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