The Havre de Grace boys swimming team had been in this position before, but an undefeated regular season in 1995-96 ended in heartbreak when the Warriors finished in second place in the Harford County championships.
This time, the Warriors finished off their 17-0 dual-meet season in style. A first-place finish in the night's last event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, gave Havre de Grace the points it needed to edge C. Milton Wright and capture the first county boys swimming championship in the program's history.
"It's really nice to finish undefeated," said senior Chris Walters, who had three first-place finishes to go with a second place in the 200 individual medley. "Nobody could drag Havre de Grace down this time."
Havre de Grace finished with 235 points, with C. Milton Wright next at 227. Bel Air was third with 213, and Fallston (194) and North Harford (148) rounded out the top five.
The Warriors led the meet nearly the entire way before the Mustangs - thanks to winning performances in the 200 freestyle relay and 200 IM by Steve Bane - took the top spot with just two events left.
After North Harford's Tim Falkner won the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.52, the Mustangs' lead over the Warriors was 209-203 heading into the last race.
In the decisive relay, Danny Worrell, Walters, Kyle North and anchor Kurt LaPaglia got the 32 first-place points the Warriors needed and broke Bel Air's meet record in the event with a time of 3:32.46 in the process.
The Mustangs finished last, ending any hopes for first place.
"We are all really proud," said LaPaglia, who recorded two individual firsts and was a member of two gold medal-winning relay teams. All told, he set four school records. "I mean, what can be better?"
It was a disappointing end to a surprise showing by the Mustangs.
The silver lining was that Wright's girls team is a heavy favorite to win today's county championship and, with the boys picking up more points than Mustangs coach Larry Ashman had expected, the schools is in good position to win the overall team title.
But last night definitely belonged to the Warriors. Coach Aaron Thompson had talked all year about what it would mean for Havre de Grace, one of the smallest Class 1A schools, to win a county title, especially against a school such as C. Milton Wright, which is nearly three times its size.
"We bettered our times in almost everything and the guys were just incredible tonight," said Thompson, who promised his team he would shave his head if they won. "It was absolutely like David and Goliath and our little David didn't back down at all."