Barnegat Leader Winter Sports Previews

Barnegat Boys Swim Team Looks to Have ‘Another Amazing Season’

By David Biggy | Dec 16, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Senior Austin Cappuccio and the Barnegat boys swim team have enough swimmers back from last season’s NJSIAA sectional championship squad to contend for another title.

Barnegat, NJ — By now, it’s fairly well known around Southern Ocean County that the Barnegat boys swim team has become a force during recent years. Last winter, coach Emily Cherry’s Bengals accomplished something no team at the high school had accomplished before: capturing an NJSIAA sectional championship.

Well, things have changed significantly since February – namely, the team graduated a bunch of seniors who, for four years, had helped shape the program into becoming a state sectional champ.

“After an exciting season last year, we graduated a number of key swimmers,” Cherry said. “However, we still have a strong core to depend on. The determination and passion of our returning swimmers continues to inspire our new swimmers to excel and our returning swimmers to meet and exceed their own expectations. Our boys team has made the team states tournament for the past six years, and we continue to hold ourselves to a high standard. We’re looking forward to another amazing season.”

If anybody doubts whether the Bengals, 11-2 a year ago, can repeat as sectional champs, they’re probably in good company. After all, losing a half-dozen swimmers who scored a lot of points in multiple events certainly can affect a team in a significant way. But this is a squad that has built a reputation for reloading its cannons, not necessarily building new ones. And the Bengals have quite a lot left in the arsenal from last winter.

Leading the way will be senior captains Austin Cappuccio and Josh Hutton, along with classmates Kaden Jason, Tyler Grant and Logan Germano. Also returning to the lineup are six swimmers who played significant roles last season, including juniors Ethan Sackett, Gavin Wheeler, Joe Fiorentino, Declan Lustenberger, Ryan Schager, Chris Longo and Justin Sullivan.

And while the Bengals may not have quite the depth they had last year, Cherry has several newcomers to the crew she expects to step onto the blocks and contribute in multiple ways, including senior Collin Zarenkiewicz, sophomore Pauly D’Aloia and freshman Brandon Bermudez. The rest of the squad is comprised of junior Kyle Agudo, sophomores Kyle Donlon, Anthony Idone, Joshua Javines, Noah Jeremias, Daniel Ohr and Emanuel Valles, and freshmen Chase Bringoli, Ryan Grant and Alexander Nguyen.

The Bengals’ home opener is slated for Tuesday, Dec. 17, against Manchester at St. Francis Aquatic Center.

As for the Barnegat girls swim team, coach Rebecca Kane is expecting her squad to be a competitive group and improve on its 4-6 record of last winter.

“Our girls team continues to improve and grow,” she said. “We graduated some key swimmers last year, but we already have returning swimmers eager to step up and fill their shoes. With a larger team than last season, we’re looking to make more of an impact. Our returning swimmers have been working tremendously hard to become stronger in their events, and we’re excited to see what our newcomers bring to the team. With the dedication, positivity and team spirit they bring to practice and competition, I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.”

With only two returning seniors – Jasmine Anderson and Veronique Gleghorn – the Bengals will rely heavily on younger swimmers to pull their weight, and Kane will be looking in the direction of returning junior captains Alexis Jackson and Paige Menegus, as well as classmates Sydney Dizon, Ashley Sojak and Gabby Kovaly, to provide the spark. Sophomores Kirsten Langan, Erin Lustenberger and Jess Notaro – all of whom filled their roles well last season – also have returned to the lineup.

The newcomers expected to fill necessary roles this season are sophomore Nicole Schiverea and freshmen Delaney Dobbin, Hailee Lutz and Emily McAvoy. The rest of the crew includes juniors Natalie Durning and Scarlett Roberts, and freshmen Julia Creely, Kayla Giammanco, Summer Perry, Briana Tilghman and Grace Watts.

Girls Hoops Team
May Make Some Noise

Losing three of the top four scorers to graduation often puts a strain on a basketball team’s offense the following season, at least for the first few weeks until all the players get familiar with their roles and the newbies start gaining some experience. Coach Tammy Nicolini’s girls hoops squad may have some difficulties at the outset, but where the Bengals lack in experience, they may be able to make some noise in the Shore Conference Class B South division through hard work and hustle.

“We’re guard-heavy, and so we’ll be looking to use our speed a lot this season,” said the coach, whose squad went 12-14 last season. “Our biggest weakness will be our inexperience.”

Without question, the Bengals are a young group, with no seniors. However, a significant portion of last year’s crew – several of whom played significant roles – are back on the hardwood and should put the Bengals in a position to grow and get better later in the season.

Among those leading the charge this season will be juniors Erin Breyta, Ashley Pringle and Kaya Foy. Sophomore Kya Joseph, who broke onto the scene last season as a freshman and ended up the Bengals’ second-highest scorer – with 246 points, an average of 9.5 per game – to go with seven rebounds per contest, likely will be the team’s best scoring punch. Sophomore Isabel Guiro also is back from last season.

As for a few of the newcomers who will be expected to step in and contribute right away, freshman forwards Cara McCoy and Calli Dunn bring some talent to the court; freshman guard Sofia Gialenella also is a welcomed addition. Sophomore Mikayla Dobbin completes the varsity roster.

The Bengals open the season on Friday, Dec. 20, at division rival Lakewood.

— David Biggy

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