Southern Regional Girls and Boys Swim Teams Snag County Crowns

By DAVID BIGGY | Jan 15, 2020
Courtesy of: Southern Athletics The Southern Regional girls swim team celebrated with the trophy after capturing the Ocean County championship on Jan. 11.

Stafford Township, NJ — Southern Regional High School girls swimming coach Bill Entrikin wasn’t even paying attention to the scoring during the Ocean County Championships on Jan. 11. Sure, he knew things were going well. As the meet wore on, he had an inkling of where his Rams were situated – but he was in for a shock.

“As they’re reading off the team results, we heard Donovan was in third and we were like, ‘Oh, cool. We’re going to beat Donovan for the first time ever.’ But then they announced that Point Borough was second and, at first, we couldn’t believe it,” Entrikin said. “Usually you don’t win a county championship unless you have some county champs in your lineup. But we won purely with our depth, and that’s really cool. We brought 20 girls to the meet, and all 20 swam great.”

The Rams scored 286.5 points, just 3½ ahead of Point Pleasant Borough, to win the program’s first county crown. Donovan Catholic finished with 251, while Central Regional scored 238 and Toms River South ended up fifth with 232.

At the county meet, the top 16 places are scored in each of the eight individual events, and all 14 schools’ teams – should they be entered in the event – are scored in the three relays. The Rams scored five swimmers in places 14, 15 and 16, giving them the extra points they needed to rise to the top of the standings.

“Usually our depth isn’t fast enough to carry us in the county meet,” Entrikin said. “But this time, we had multiple girls seeded outside the top 16 in a bunch of events, and they scored points. And typically our strength is the 50 free and 200 free relay. But this year, our strength is in all the 100s – the 100 free, the 100 back, the 100 breaststroke and 100 fly. This was completely unexpected.”

In the 200-yard medley relay, the team of Veronica Ruoff, Hallie Gallagher, Mia Amirr and Olivia Auge finished sixth in 1:59.46, before Phoebe Sprague (2:07.55) and Mya Pierson (2:08.47) scored sixth- and seventh-place points in the 200-yard freestyle, and Kaylan Iusan (2:26.83) and Payton Nork (2:31.56) placed 10th and 12th, respectively, in the 200-yard individual medley.

In the 50-yard freestyle, Southern scored points with three swimmers, as Abigail Malandro took fourth in 25.79 seconds and Haley Skimmons and Jessica Paulillo scored 14th- and 16th-place points with respective times of 27.65 and 27.75 seconds. Amirr (1:05.64), Iusan (1:06.69) and Auge (1:08.68) followed by placing seventh, ninth and 11th in the 100-yard butterfly.

Behind Malandro, whose time of 56.71 seconds was good enough for second place, the Rams received an added 16 points from Pierson, who swiped sixth in 57.57 seconds, and Paulillo, who grabbed 14th in 1:00.3, during the 100-yard freestyle. In the grueling 500-yard freestyle, Sprague placed eighth in 5:50.75, but Gianna Giglioli (6:17.45) and Chloe Furlong (6:34.49) delivered five huge points by placing 14th and 16th, respectively.

In the 200-freestyle relay, Pierson, Paulillo, Iusan and Malandro finished third in 1:46.57, before Ruoff and Auge placed seventh and 10th with respective times of 1:05.44 and 1:06.41 in the 100-yard backstroke. But then the really big event happened, as four Rams placed among the top 16 in the 100-yard breaststroke – Amirr in seventh (1:14.03); Nork in eighth (1:15.95); Gallagher in ninth (1:16.93) and Skimmons in 15th (1:21.12). The 400-yard freestyle relay of Iusan, Sprague, Pierson and Malandro secured the county title by placing fifth in 3:54.05.

“Ahead of the meet, in my calculations, Borough was pointed out to be 61 points ahead of us,” Entrikin said. “We figured second or third, and that would have been good for us. We had no idea how good we were doing as the meet went on. I didn’t see this happening this year. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

The funny thing is neither did Southern boys coach Patrick Craig. Earlier in the day, his squad captured its second county title in program history, tallying 332 points, 22.5 points ahead of second-place Toms River South and more than 100 points ahead of third-place Toms River North. The last time a Southern boys team won the county title was 2007.

“The kids swam their hearts out,” Craig said. “We don’t have top-three guys. That’s not who we are. We’ve always been a team of depth, but that depth got us a county title. We had one first-place relay, and the rest of the results were all in our depth. We knew we’d do well, but to do that well was a pleasant surprise.”

After Kristian Werner, Sean White, Beck Jaffe and Jackson Hughes broke the school record in the medley relay with a time of 1:45.08, good enough to place third, Russell Hill placed seventh (1:58.82), Kameron Davis placed 11th (2:05.21), Alexander Reck swiped 13th (2:08.02) and Daniel Dunlap grabbed 14th (2:15.35) in the 200 free to score 26 valuable points early on.

Aidan McInerney and White then placed fourth and sixth with respective times of 2:14.24 and 2:23.45 in the 200 IM, before Hughes (23.69 seconds) finished fifth, Cole Nemes (24.32) placed eighth and Zach Girgenti (25.06) snagged 15th in the 50 free for another 27 points, and Jaffe (:59.07) grabbed seventh and Greg Lee (1:05.67) snatched 15th in the 100 butterfly.

In back-to-back events – the 100 and 500 freestyles – Southern scored points on the arms and legs of eight swimmers to score a massive 81 points and staked its claim as the frontrunner for the county title. Werner finished third in a school-record time of 50.36 seconds in the 100 free, while Hughes was fourth in 51.46, Noah Hanvey took ninth in 53.93 and Nemes swiped 11th in 54.33 seconds, before Werner (5:18.93) took fourth in the 500, followed by Hill in sixth (5:29.73), Reck in 12th (6:02.79) and Dunlap in 15th (6:26.54).

“We entered four kids in every event we could, and it worked out great for us,” Craig said. “In the 500, only 17 kids entered, so we were all but guaranteed to score points in the event. But we scored points in every event, and that was huge for us.”

It didn’t hurt that a trio of Rams added points in the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke. Davis was sixth (1:02.41) in the backstroke, followed by Hanvey in seventh (1:02.50) and Bryan Kahl in 14th (1:09.97), while White snagged fifth (1:04.91), Austin Widmer took eighth (1:10.45) and Andrew McGivney grabbed 14th (1:13.19) in the breaststroke. Hughes, Jaffe, Nemes and Werner completed the title run with a first-place finish in the 400 free relay, recording a time of 3:29.29.

“This is far beyond anything we’ve thought we’d do,” Craig said. “Most of our kids swim three months of the year, so between winning a county title and being 8-0, this has been an amazing season so far. These guys keep coming back and surprising us.”

The Southern Regional boys swim team gathered after winning the Ocean County championship on Jan. 11. (Courtesy of: Southern Athletics)
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