It was 2 points. That was the gap. 2 points for the win. The amount of hype in the pool the weeks leading up to this was overwhelming. Coach Murray went through several different lineups for this one meet. This was going to be the fastest meet in Section 2, and we were all prepped and ready for it.
I remember entering the pool. It looked like just any other meet. The Shen kids were casually setting up the pool deck. The Shaker kids were casually walking towards the stands where they would be sitting. However, there was a different air about this meet than the other dual meets. If you looked closely at our swimmers, you could see the excitement in their facial expressions. This was it.
The meet finally started around 4:30. By that time, the bleachers were already filled with people in green or blue. It was pretty great for there to be so many people to support both sides. The Girls Varsity Swimming and Diving team all showed up to watch the meet. Even the Bluefins Swim Club showed up with support for Shaker. Girls Varsity Swimming Team star, Natalie Rumpelt, who attended, later remarked on the turn out that, “To see Shaker unified at one meet to support the boys swim team was great! You could tell everyone really wanted you guys (Shaker Boys) to win and you all deserved it! And the atmosphere was great too.”
The first event was the 200-medley relay. Nick Buff and Ian McElrath led off the Shaker A and B relays respectively in backstroke. The A relay was continued by Will Matz in breaststroke, then Zeeshan Irani in butterfly, and finally Mark Enright in freestyle. Mark Enright ended the A relay, placing the A relay in first of the event. Following McElrath, it was Steven Yu in breastroke, then John Fitzgerald in butterfly, and anchoring with Cal Arnold in freestyle. Arnold shocked the crowd with his finish, coming off of the blocks behind the Shenendehowa A relay, but then exploding to a finish of 2nd place for Shaker B relay, overtaking the Shenendehowa A relay at the last second. This led the boys off to an early lead in the meet.
The meet continued from that. The bleachers became more and more filled as parents, friends, and even former school swimmers entered the pool. Some of the events from here on out were wins for Shenendehowa. Some of the events from here on out were wins for Shaker. However, the deciding factors were not the people who came in first place, but the people who were able to touch rival swimmers out, that is to beat them to the wall at the last second with a stronger finish. John Fitzgerald narrowly touched out another Shen swimmer in the 100 fly by 0.02 seconds. It was performances like these that secured the win for Shaker.
The final event, the 400 free relay, was what it all came down to. Coach Murray had called all the swimmers in the event to talk to her. After they were all gathered, she received news of the score. She told the swimmers that Shaker needed to take second and third places or better for the team to win. As a cautionary measure, she switched the anchors of the A and B relays. Will Matz of the A was put as the anchor of the B, and Frank Miao (yours truly) was put as the anchor of the A. Coach Murray advised for safe starts when transitioning from person to person, and then sent the swimmers to the blocks, with their teammates and supporters cheering right after them. The A relay was set in order as Mark Enright, Zeeshan Irani, Andrew Semmes, and Frank Miao. The B relay was set in order as George Enright, John Fitzgerald, Ian McElrath, and Will Matz. This was a great finish to the meet. Even though neither of the relays took first, the two A and B relays were able to secure the needed 2nd and 3rd places to win.
After the race, the teams were still unsure which team won or lost, since the score had not been updated for a while. Everyone was watching the scoreboard. Then, in a flash, the score appeared. Home: 92. Guest: 94. Shaker had won. Shaker had beat Shen. Shen, who had gone undefeated since 2006, on their 94th meet of the winning streak, was beaten by Shaker High School. Shaker beat Shen. Shaker beat Shen.