By Jason Wesseldyk
OTSEGO—Six long years. Make that six long years.
That’s how long it had been since the Otsego boys swim & dive team had beaten Marshall in a dual meet, dating back to January 2016. That also happened to be the last time any team had been Marshall in a conference dual, as the Redhawks have won the past five league championships.
The Bulldogs ended that streak on Tuesday, Jan. 18, as Otsego posted the 101-84 victory.
“This one was special,” Otsego coach Darryl Belton said. “Marshall ended our reign as league champions in 2017 following a five-year run for us. They beat us 94-92 on Jan. 3, 2017—yes I remember the date. Since that time they have won the league title and we have finished second.
“It has been bitter at times. We thought we could get them last year but came up short at the end and it was another long year waiting for another shot. That’s what makes this win so sweet.”
Through the first four events, the score was knotted at 31-31 and Belton wasn’t feeling overly confident. Then came the diving.
“Marshall is a great team and very well coached and beating them was going to be tough,” Belton said. “We would have to swim and dive at a very high level in order to win, but we didn’t start very well and a tie score going into diving didn’t bode well.
“We needed someone to step up and give the guys a boost and our divers did just that.”
Less than a point separated the final tallies for Alex Foune and Caleb Wesseldyk, who both set new personal records with respective scores of 165.2 and 164.25 to take the top two slots in diving. That gave Otsego a 10-5 edge in that event and a 41-36 lead overall.
The Bulldogs pulled away from there.
“Both Alex and Caleb dove out of their minds,” Belton said.
Other winning efforts for Otsego were: the 200-yard medley relay team of Luke Aldrich, Jacob Robbins, Owen Bush and Gage Pompileo (1:51.28); Pompileo in the 100 freestyle (50.58); Bryce Meyer in the 500 free (5:10.18); and Aldrich in the 100 backstroke (1:00.28).
“Winning this meet doesn’t guarantee anything as far as a league championship, which is the ultimate goal, but I won’t downplay how good it felt for our team to get this one,” Belton said.