Looking to defend titles
The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A high school swimming championships are set for Feb. 11, with the Morse squad certainly having a home-pool advantage when the event kicks off at 9 a.m. at the Bath Area Family YMCA.
The Shipbuilders, the defending KVAC champs for both boys and girls, still have a little bit of work to do, heading up to Belfast on Friday to close out the regular season. But, the team has a lot of confidence, considering the boys are undefeated while the girls have lost just once, the season-opener against a tough Messalonskee squad.
Throughout the year, Morse coach Todd Marco has tweaked his lineup here and there, but feels confident his athletes are ready for the postseason.
“Everybody knows what they are going to do by now going into KVACs, and we will see how things go before states,” said Marco.
The boys, who finished 10th at states last year after edging Brunswick in the KVACs, are led by Jake Olsen, Albin and Otto Werwaiss, Kyle Bauer, Josh Valentine, Oliver Kruze, Drew Ceglinski, Dylan Crowell and Alex Paulus, with relays and depth the strong points.
“This year we’ve had an exceptionally good season, and after we won our first few meets and came out on top against Brunswick, which is tough, we knew we had a chance,” said Olsen, a standout in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke. He swims the anchor leg of the 200-medley relay, and the allimportant lead-off spot on the 400 relay squad. “In KVACs last year, everything worked for us. This year we have three or four relays teams in each event, and have three or four guys scoring in all the events.
“Our depth is big. We can usually fill events up, and have built that up. That has helped our scoring. The new kids are picking it up quickly and not disqualifying, which is a huge plus.”
“The boys will be close against Brunswick, and states are a whole new event, but we are hoping to do well there,” added Marco, who was named the KVAC Coach of the Year last season.
“Our season has been really good so far, and after losing to Messalonskee we have been able to pull it together as a team,” said senior cocaptain Guerin Morissette.
Like the boys, the girls are solid at the top, with good relay squads and top individual swimmers.
“We know we can get those firsts and seconds, but we have the swimmers to get the thirds and fourths that helps a lot,” said Morissette, who has been solid in the 50 free and 100 backstroke.
Like Olsen, she anchors the 200- medley relay squad of sister Bronwyn Morissette, Catie Luedee and Allison Plummer. She also swims the final leg of the 200-free relay, with Luedee, Bronwyn Morissette and Casey Bonnett posting a qualifying time of 1:52.48. “Our relays are really awesome.”
Bonnett swims the 200 and 500 freestyles, Plummer the 200 individual medley and 100 free, and Luedee is the leader in the 100 breaststroke.
The past two years have seen a successful run for the Morse girls. In 2010, the Shipbuilders won the Class A state title, and last year battled it out with Bangor before coming in second.
“I think we can just do the same thing we did last year and work as a team,” said the senior. “We lost last year because of diving, so hopefully we can pull out a second or a third at states this year.”
“I think Messalonskee is the team to beat at KVACs, and I just don’t feel the girls have enough depth to win states this time around,” said Marco. “But, they work hard, so you never know in these big meets.”
Both Olsen and Guerin Morissette credit the Long Reach Swim Club for their success.
“I have been with Long Reach for 12 years, and that has made me a better swimmer,” said Guerin, who swims for father Jay Morissette through Long Reach. “One of the things I love about high school swimming is I get to swim against Bronwyn in some events. At Long Reach, we don’t get to face each other because we’re not in the same age group. So this is a lot of fun to have this with my sister.”
“Practicing with two teams, I have become so much faster,” said Olsen. “With workouts and two practices, it can get challenging sometimes. Coming into this year, I realized how much I had improved, dropping four or five seconds in my events, which is huge.”
And, for Marco coaching at Morse and helping out with Long Reach is still something the long-time head man enjoys.
“I wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t fun, with this being my 19th or 20th year doing it,” admitted Marco. “I enjoy doing this and the day I don’t will be the day I stop. These kids get along so well, so that makes it fun.
“ Long Reach is key, being the biggest program in the whole state. I have helped them out for the past 30 years, and I am able to see the elite swimmers. That is great.”