Thursday’s clash of CAAC Red undefeated teams between Owosso and Mason came down to the final swim.
Owosso trailed by just eight points, and the Bulldogs had to win the 400-yard freestyle relay, or take second and third place, to keep their perfect season alive on senior night.
Dalton Harris, Lucas Wolfe, Collin Zaremba and Corbin Shuler came up big for Mason with a state-qualifying time of 3:27.79 to secure a 100-86 win over the Trojans (12-1, 6-1). The Bulldogs (10-0, 7-0) are now the team to beat going into the league meet on Feb. 22 and 23.
“We knew it would be close because we stacked our 400 relay and they stacked theirs,” said Shuler, a junior who swam the anchor leg for Mason. “I had to swim for my brothers (the seniors), to help them go out with a bang.”
For Mason coach Connie Cantrell, relays were the difference in a meet decided by the smallest of margins. The Bulldogs started off strong by winning the 200 medley relay in 1:48.07, but Owosso out-touched Mason in some other events to stay within striking distance.
Ryan Slusher edged Mason’s Dalton Harris in the 200 individual medley by four-tenths of a second. Then in the 100 butterfly, Harris was out-touched by the Trojans’ Frankie Fanti by one-tenth of a second.
“They all swam really, really well,” said Cantrell. “Those little deal breakers, you can’t be upset when they’re swimming their best time – especially after how hard we’ve worked them in practice.”
Owosso made things uncomfortably close for the Bulldogs when it won the 200 freestyle relay to tie the meet at 70-70 with three events left.
Shuler swam a 59.58 to win the 100 backstroke. Then the Bulldogs picked up more key points when they took first, second and fourth place in the 100 breaststroke thanks to Zaremba, Brandon Stetler and Noah Powell.
“It was a phenomenal meet. Both teams came out and gave their all,” said Owosso co-coach Kaylee Coe. “We knew it was going to be the meet of the season.”