ORONO — The biggest meet of the year thus far for the Mount Desert Island High School and Ellsworth High School boys’ swim teams couldn’t have been any closer — literally — and still had a winner.
The MDI boys claimed second place at the Penobscot Valley Conference championship meet when they fell 269-268 Friday at the University of Maine’s Stanley M. Wallace Pool. The score was the result of a back-and-forth affair in which the teams were neck and neck throughout the meet.
Although Ellsworth was in first place with three events to go, strong individual performances from MDI in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle 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 event to go when a win in the 200-yard freestyle relay gave them 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.”
Earlier in the meet, MDI got a third-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay from a team consisting of Price, Zeke Valleau, Isaac Weaver and Sam Mitchell. Sullivan earned a second-place finish in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 48.59 seconds, and earned an individual win for the Trojans with a time of 54.14 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly.
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.”
The Trojans also enjoyed an excellent performance on the girls’ side Saturday afternoon. Only Class A Bangor and Brewer finished ahead of the MDI girls’ team, which scored a total of 185 points to place third of 12 teams.
Adria Horton, Maddie Woodworth, Eliza Schleif and Ruby Brown gave MDI a second-place finish in the 200 medley relay. Schleif added third-place finishes in the 200 and 500 freestyles, and Horton took third in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke.
“I thought our girls swam very well,” DeMuro said. “For both the boys and girls, we’d all say we’ve come a long way from where we were at the beginning of the year. It’s always your goal as a team to be at your best toward the end of the season.
The next meet for the MDI boys and girls will be the state championships at Bowdoin College. The girls’ championships will be held Monday, Feb. 19, and the boys’ championships will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20. Both meets are set for 11 a.m.