An earlier date for the Downstate 8 Relays couldn’t have come at a better or worse time for the host Pekin co-op boys swimming and diving team.

On the good side, the meet Saturday was a nice reward after two grueling days of semester exams earlier in the week.

On the down side, “you could tell our kids were tired from the exams,” said Pekin coach Christine Dunn. “Even so, they fought through it and their times were right on or a little faster from where they should be at this point of the season.”

The 47th annual Downstate 8 meet was held earlier than its usual date near New Year’s Eve because the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament basketball competition is this coming weekend at Pekin.

The date switch received a favorable response from several coaches of Downstate 8 teams, Dunn said.

“They said they like an earlier date because it doesn’t conflict with the holiday travel plans of some of their swimmers,” she said. “I thought the meet went well, and everyone had a good time. I’m glad we’re back to eight teams (there were seven teams last year).”

Pekin finished fourth Saturday with 73 points behind champion Dunlap co-op (130), Moline (116) and Metamora co-op (82). Behind the Dragons were Rockford Guilford (60), Champaign Centennial (44), Macomb (33) and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (32).

Macomb joined the field this year to bring the meet back to eight teams.

Dunlap won seven events and Moline won three. Metamora had one win.

As for the Dragons, their best was third place in three events.

Garrett Oliver and Dillon Marlatt were third in the 2x100 freestyle (1:48.24), Matthew Peterson and Alex Kula were third in the 2x500 freestyle (11:20.85) and Brady Hild and Sam Dunn were third in the 2x100 backstroke (2:06.73).

Finishing fourth for Pekin were Dunn, Marlatt, Kula and Garrett in the 200 medley (1:51.57) and Marlatt, Kyle Leichtenberg, Isaac Watson and Kula in the 400 freestyle (3:36.70).

Dunn said Watson had good time drops in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle and so did Sam Dunn in the 2x100 backstroke.

There’s no diving in the Downstate 8 meet, only swimming events.

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.