ORONO — Whenever championship season begins, the Mount Desert Island swim team expects to be in contention.
The departure of top swimmers or even longtime head coaches never seems to knock MDI off its perch as one of Class B’s top swim programs. Year after year, the Trojans seem to be competing for – and frequently winning – coveted hardware.
“What can I say other than that we have great people in our program,” MDI head coach David Blaney said. “We’ve got a great feeder program with the local Y, and we have great numbers and awesome swimmers who support each other.”
Those swimmers powered MDI to two more titles over the weekend. Now, after not getting the opportunity last year, the Trojans will look to finish their seasons with the ultimate prizes next week.
The MDI boys and girls claimed Penobscot Valley Conference championships in this weekend’s meets at the University of Maine. The wins marked the third consecutive PVC title wins for both MDI teams.
On the girls’ side, MDI’s Callan Eason won the 100-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 0.25 seconds and placed third in the 50-yard freestyle (26.86 seconds). She also swam on the Trojans’ second-place 200-yard medley relay (Cecilia Saltysiak, Denali Wagstaff, Elle Yarborough, Eason, 1:53.72) and 200-yard freestyle relay (Yarborough, Wagstaff, Nina Rozeff, Eason, 1:48.56) teams.
Elsewhere for the MDI, Yarborough claimed a third-place finish as she swam the 200-yard individual medley in 2:27.04. The Trojans also got a third-place effort from Maria Saltysiak, who placed third in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:06.38
The meet was a battle between MDI’s depth and Ellsworth’s speed at the top in multiple events. That matchup went the Trojans’ way as MDI used a number of third-, fourth- and fifth-place efforts to score 346 points to the Eagles’ 320 despite Ellsworth claiming six event wins.
The swim portion of the PVC girls’ meet followed the diving portion, which had been held earlier Saturday. With Ellsworth’s Springer sisters taking first, second and fourth in that competition, it took a total team effort for MDI to overcome the Eagles for the win.
“We were in a position where I was hoping our swimmers could make up for the advantage they had with their divers,” said Blaney, whose MDI girls’ team lost to Ellsworth when the two teams met Jan. 28 at the MDI YMCA. “With those girls going 1, 2 and 4, we had to look at our events and see who was where and what we could score.”
On the boys’ side, Julian Walls, Jesse Lower, Sam Schleif and Brendan Graves took second in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:47.81. MDI also placed second in the 200 freestyle relay (Lower, Graves, Sam York, Ryan Davis, 1:35.83) and the 400 freestyle relay (York, Schleif, Walls, Liam McKernan, 3:40.18).
Individually, Graves (50 freestyle, 23.54; 100-yard breaststroke, 1:08.57) claimed two runner-up finishes for the MDI boys. Walls (500-yard freestyle, 5:24.95) and Lower (100-yard backstroke, 1:01.96) also earned second-place finishes for the Trojans, who scored 310.5 points to runner-up Bangor’s 270.
Next up for both MDI squads will be the Class B championship meets next week. The boys will compete at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21, and the girls’ meet will be held at that time Tuesday, Feb. 22. Both events will be held at Cape Elizabeth High School.
Those meets will give MDI opportunities to win state titles that were unavailable last year as the pandemic rendered a statewide competition unviable. Between MDI and Ellsworth and strong Cape and Greely teams, it’s shaping up to be a memorable end to the season.
“You have those four or five teams, and the scoring 1-4 is going to be really close,” Blaney said. “It’ll be one of the most highly contested state meets I can remember. There’s some fast teams in Class B, and they’re all going to be there. It’s going to be fun.”