Inside Salem’s boisterous natatorium Friday night, the first-ever Plymouth Canton Educational Park boys swimming and diving tri-meet was reaching an epic conclusion.
In the 400-yard freestyle relay, anchors Garrett Beauprez of Plymouth and Brian Kuang of Salem were in a frantic race to determine whether the Wildcats or Rocks would prevail in the final event of the night. They raced side-by-side as the roar of spectators and teammates grew even louder.
Beauprez touched the side first, just ahead of Kuang, giving the Wildcats the relay win in 3:31.55. Salem’s quartet of Charles Liu, Collin Urbacsewski, Phillip Collingwood and Kuang finished in 3:32.20.
“It was extremely loud, that’s the loudest I’ve ever heard it here,” said Beauprez, who teamed up with Ryan Heinze, Aniketh Visai and Ben Yang to win the relay and help Plymouth cap off a first-place showing with 514 points.
That’s a first
The Wildcats thus defeated Salem (449 points) for the first time in program history. In third place was Canton, with a tally of 394 points.
“It was an extreme boost for everyone,” said Beauprez, who also won in the 200 freestyle (1:54.84). “Our team did outstanding today, it’s great that we all came together and finally beat Salem.”
The versatile Beauprez added that the Wildcats will use Friday’s win as a springboard for the rest of the 2014-15 season.
“This is a ginormous confidence boost,” Beauprez added. “This is our first time ever beating Salem, so I feel like this is going to carry through our momentum through the entire season.”
Plymouth and Salem were neck-and-neck until the 10th event, the 100 backstroke, which the Wildcats took 1-2 in (Yang won with a 58.61, with Visai second, 1:01.50).
Canton’s Richard Ling won the ensuing 100 breaststroke, with his time of 1:10.67 outlasting Plymouth’s Bronson Knowles (second, 1:10.85).
After that event, Plymouth pretty much had the tri-meet in hand, although the frenetic final heat of the 400 relay put an exclamation point on the entire evening.
“We really liked it, it was a really fun environment for everybody,” Plymouth head coach Kenn Forbes said. “I think we’re going to plan one for the girls season next year.
“We swam well, other than the boys saying the water was cold we had some good times, had some PRs. Some things could have been a little faster. I’m pretty pleased with it, especially beating the other teams. … It’s a good way to get us jump-started after winter break.”
Veteran Salem head coach Chuck Olson credited athletic directors Brian Samulski (Salem), Kyle Meteyer (Plymouth) and Vernon Crump (Canton) for getting the Park teams together.
“This is the first time for Salem, Canton and Plymouth to be together,” Olson said. “The athletic directors came up with the idea. It sounded like it would work and seems to have worked pretty darn well.
“It was close. A little different format, but it was good. Everybody knows each other real well, the coaches know each other and get along well. It was a good, fun meet.”
For the Chiefs, a team comprised largely of rookies, being part of such an environment can only pay off dividends, noted head coach Dave Le.
“We have a very young team, we have 27 freshmen and sophomores,” Le said. “And on top of that there is a handful of first-year swimmers that are upperclassmen.
“I think they understood very quickly what it is to be swimming against your cross-campus rivals.”
Happy with results
Both Forbes and Olson said they were pleased for the most part with all of their swimmers.
“Everybody was doing great,” Forbes said. “Heinze swam well, (Michael) Wischer swam well, (freshman) Sawyer Knowles, he swam really well.”
Wischer captured the 50 free with a time of 24.09 seconds, with teammate Heinze right behind him at 24.18. In third was Salem’s Noah Fleming (24.60) followed by Canton’s Derek Goderis (fourth, 25.20).
According to Olson, Salem’s diving tandem of Michael Falzon and John Vary performed well, taking first and second, respectively, with 154.75 and 153.30 points.
Olson said Liu, victorious both in the 200 IM and 100 free (with times of 2:11.18 and 52.40) “had a real good meet. Collingwood had a good 500.”
Collingwood took that event with a time of 5:07.84, edging Plymouth’s Beauprez (5:08.29).
“We had some good swims, just not enough of them yet,” Olson said. “We’re working on it.”
The Wildcats got off to a strong start, winning the meet-opening 200 medley relay. The quartet of Yang, Visai, Heinze and Wischer took the top spot with a time of 1:47.36.
Canton placed second, with Kyle Amick, Richard Ling, Cole Malhoit and Gerard Niermann finishing in 1:50.75.
Beauprez’s 1:54.84 was good enough to win the 200 free, about a second faster than Canton’s Daniel Mullen (1:55.87). In third was Kuang of Salem (1:58.41).
One of the night’s closest races was the 100 butterfly, with Yang (57.83) edging Urbacsewski (second, 58.28). Yang also won the 100 backstroke (58.61) as he showed his versatility.
In the 200 free relay, Salem’s entry of Kuang, Noah Fleming, Liu and Collingwood won with time of 1:35.98.