Lewiston’s Sophia Turgeon swims the 100-yard backstroke during the Class A KVAC meet Saturday at the Bath YMCA. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)
BATH — The Cony High School girls swimming team won it all last year, as the expression goes. But the Rams didn’t win everything.
One prize eluded them. Even as Cony chased and eventually won the Class A state championship, the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference title went instead to Brunswick, by a mere 10 points.
“Last year we were so close,” junior Gabby Low said.
This time, disappointment gave way to dominance. Cony won nine of the 11 events Saturday at the Bath Area Family YMCA, posting 296 points and crushing a field that included Brunswick (174), Messalonskee (160), Lewiston (128) and Mt. Ararat (128).
“It’s unbelievable,” said Low, who along with teammates Cecilia Guadalupi and Talia Jorgensen won a pair of individual events. “This year, we came into it and were like ‘We can do this.’ It felt so, so great to win … especially since it kind of slipped out of our hands last year.
“We want the big title, but the little title means a lot to us too.”
Coach Jon Millett, who was named both the KVAC boys and girls coach of the year, said the title was a good indication of how his team is performing with the state championships a week away.
“It’s a nice stepping stone,” he said. “The kids showed up today and they swam really well. I think we put ourselves in a nice position for next week. We’ve got some good seed times going in, and they’re going to be able to match up well against the other teams.”
Lewiston’s Brooke Cloutier placed first in the 100-yard breaststroke, and second in the 100-yard freestyle. Emma Hefty of Edward Little placed fourth in the 500-yard freestyle.
Brunswick, led by a pair of wins from Matt Yost and Brian Hess, won the boys title with 256.5 points, finishing ahead of Waterville-Winslow (223), Messalonskee (202.5), Lewiston (152) and Cony (146). The Rams’ Nathan Berry was named the performer of the meet, earning conference titles in both the 50-yard freestyle (22.37 seconds) and 100 backstroke (54.68) after a shaky start in the 200 medley relay at the start of the day.
“This is so much right now,” he said. “I didn’t expect to win KVAC swimmer of the meet. I felt like my first race was not where I wanted it to be. … It kind of made me feel a negative feeling for this meet, but then I picked it up.”
Berry appeared unchallenged while pulling away in the 50 free (22.37), but he needed to sweat out every stroke of the 100 back before winning with a time 54.68 that edged out Lewiston’s Lennon LaBelle’s 54.91.
“The backstroke was a really fun race,” he said. “I haven’t gone that fast since the Bowdoin Open in December. It always helps to have someone good. I always swim better with competition beside me.”
The swimmer he beat in the 50 free, Waterville-Winslow’s Jake Witham, had a good day of his own. Witham followed up his runner-up effort in that race by winning the 100 free at 51.99, giving the junior his first KVAC title.
“Honestly, I like the pressure,” said Witham, who was the top seed in the 100 free going in. “I like having a lot of pressure, I like knowing that I have a standard to keep.”
For Lewiston, Lennon LaBelle placed second in the 100-yard backstroke and fourth in the 100 butterfly, while EL’s Brendan Whitman earned a second-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle.
Spectators watch from the second floor stands above the pool deck during the Class A KVAC meet Saturday at the Bath YMCA. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)