Girls' swimming: Camden Hills repeats as Class A state champion
Feb. 20—BRUNSWICK — The lineup and the atmosphere changed, but the winning formula remained the same.
For the second year in a row, the girls of Camden Hills captured the Class A swimming and diving state championship without benefit of a single individual victory.
The Windjammers again won two relays — the 200-yard medley and 200 freestyle — and placed high enough in every other event except diving to successfully defend their state title Monday afternoon at Leroy Greason Pool on the campus of Bowdoin College.
"I was nervous," said Mark McCluskey, the Camden Hills head coach, noting that his state championship roster of eight was three fewer than a year ago, when the Windjammers ended a 41-year title drought. He wondered if eight girls would be enough.
Turns out, they were more than sufficient.
"These girls all moved up in the places they were seeded, every single one of them," McCluskey said. "They might not have been first, but there were a crazy amount of seconds and thirds."
Camden Hills finished with 285 points (only two shy of last year's winning total) and clinched the championship before the 12th and final event. Gorham placed second in the concluding 400 freestyle relay to overcome Thornton Academy of Saco for second place, 222-202.
Cony of Augusta was fourth at 183.5 followed by Massabesic/Sanford (140), Brunswick (123), South Portland (121) and 17 other schools.
Sarah Van Lonkhuyzen anchored both winning relays for Camden Hills in addition to grabbing a second (100 free) and third (200 individual medley) in her individual events.
She and fellow senior Lucy Vannini (two relays, 11th and 13th in her races) were the only Windjammers who had experienced a state meet with friends and parents in the stands. Last year's meet in Cape Elizabeth was held under COVID-19 precautions, and without spectators.
"There was definitely a little bit of pressure," Van Lonkhuyzen said. "Last year, we had a bunch of seniors graduate, but we have a lot of confidence, a lot of kids have been making huge time drops, and Mark keeps the energy very high around our team."
Junior Lily Mott (second, fifth) and sophomores Sally Vannini (third, third) and Rana Abess (second, fourth) also placed high in individual events and swam on relays. Junior Chloe Root (11th, 11th), sophomore Lola Black (10th, 12th) and freshman Adella Brainerd (three relays) also contributed.
Falmouth senior Katrina Waite won the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and was named Swimmer of the Meet. Her times were actually slower than she managed earlier this month at Southwesterns, but she remained upbeat.
"I've had a really good season," she said. "It's been a lot of fun."
The only other double winner was Cony freshman Emily Kennard. She won the 200 IM by nearly four seconds in 2 minutes, 14.35 seconds, and added the 100 backstroke in 1:00.94. She also anchored Cony's winning 400 free relay and the 200 medley relay that placed third.
Because only three other teammates qualified for the state meet and Kennard already had competed in four events, Cony could not field an entry in the 200 free relay. Even so, the Rams managed fourth overall.
"We have some fast swimmers," Kennard said, "and we have a lot of eighth graders who are going to be coming up."
The meet's closest race was the 200 freestyle. Kennebunk senior Chloe Matthews emerged from a three-way tie halfway through the race to win in 2:02.57, ahead of Gorham senior Abby Rosingana.
Matthews appeared to win the 100 butterfly as well, but she was disqualified for failing to properly finish her stroke out of the water as she approached the touchpad. That gave Lewiston freshman Gabby Roy the victory, in 1:02.50.
The other individual winners were Rosingana of Gorham in the 500 free (5:29.69), Brunswick senior Sarah Palmer in the 100 breast (1:06.87) and Falmouth senior Jillian James in diving (414.70). James, who outdistanced her closest diver by more than 100 points, had achieved a higher score earlier this season and had her sights set on meet (417.40) and state (470.90) records.
"My first couple dives, they didn't really go the way I wanted them to," James said of her early morning efforts, prior to the arrival of most spectators, who witnessed her final three dives in mid-meet. "I started to pull it together toward the end. Honestly, the big crowd gives me some adrenaline that makes me do better."
Gorham, whose previous top finish in the past dozen years had been seventh, overcame a 36-point deficit with two events remaining to surge past Thornton Academy and earn runner-up honors. Freshmen Maya Moores, Hanna Logan and Stella Moores joined Rosingana on the second-place 400 free relay, immediately after that young trio had taken 2-3-7 in the 100 breast.
"Just a phenomenal showing," said Will York, the Gorham coach. "That is an incredible finish and I'm so proud of them. We are excited about second, and we want first. That's what we're going for next year."