Stafford Leader Winter Sports Previews

Southern Regional Swim Teams Loaded With Experience, Talent

By David Biggy | Dec 13, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy FREESTYLE FAVORITE: Jackson Hughes and the Southern Regional boys swim team have experience and talent, starting the new season with three straight wins.

Stafford Township — Swimming in the Shore Conference Class A South division often is a challenge for any team other than Toms River North. The Mariners have been the perennial powerhouse during the past 10 years, after all. But that may change this season. The Southern Regional girls swim team is on the prowl and has enough talent, experience and depth to challenge for the top spot this season.

“Our top goals for the season are to win A South and make the state team tournament for a sixth straight season,” said coach Bill Entrikin, whose Rams were 8-3 a year ago. “The strength of our squad this year is the same as it has been the past few years, and it’s our depth. The focus of our program has always been developing the middle pack, and it seems that each year which goes by, our middle pack is getting deeper and faster. This is the reason why, almost each year by the end of the season, I’m coaching the fastest team in school history.”

That may be the case again this season, because many of the Rams’ prominent swimmers are not seniors. And Entrikin believes this year’s freshman class may be the strongest he’s had since taking over as head coach. Simply put, Southern’s crew is loaded with talented underclassmen.

Nonetheless, Southern is led by its senior captains Mia Amirr, Abigail Malandro, Veronica Ruoff and Nathalie Rodriguez, along with classmates Gianna Antinora, Erin Barrett, Brayden Bischoff, Emily Keenan, Ava Ruff, Tara O’Neill and Kailey Matthews. Behind them are a solid crew of juniors, including Kaylyn Iusan, Mya Pierson, Phoebe Sprague, Hallie Gallagher, Victoria Clarington and Fallon Duelly.

The depth is apparent with the sophomore class, which features Liv Auge, Jessica Paulillo, Haley Skimmons, Rachel Vazquez, Brooke Boyd, Mohini Jani, Leah Keenan, Elise Letson and Lauren Pascucci. This year’s freshman group will solidify the lineup in all sorts of ways, and Entrikin expects Chloe Furlong, Madeline Krason, Emma Mills, Payton Nork and Isabella Wyckoff to be prime contributors, while Gianna Giglioli, Bridget Little, Mia Mastrogiovanni and Kaitlyn Skipper should develop into valuable role swimmers.

Entrikin’s girls squad started the season 3-0 by scoring a 111-59 victory over Point Pleasant Borough on Dec. 6, a 103-67 win over Toms River North the day before, and a 134-33 triumph against Lacey to start the campaign on Dec. 3. The three wins gave Entrikin numbers 98, 99 and 100 for his career.

Against the Panthers, Ruoff, Amirr, Iusan and Malandro started with a first-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 2:00.99, before Malandro returned for the 50-yard freestyle and won in 26.65 seconds. After Amirr won the 100-yard butterfly in 1:09.08, Malandro scored first-place points in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 59.14 seconds.

Pierson, Paulillo, Skimmons and Malandro combined for a winning time of 1:52.80 in the 200-yard freestyle relay before Ruoff took the top spot in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:08.77, and Pierson, Boyd, Skimmons and Iusan delivered a win in the 400-yard freestyle in 4:13.16 to cap the scoring.

In their huge win over the Mariners in Toms River, the Rams were led by Ruoff, Amirr, Iusan and Malandro in the 200 medley relay with a time of 2:01.08 before Iusan took the top position in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:06.52, and Malandro won the 50 freestyle in 26.39 seconds. Malandro later won the 100 free in 59.65 seconds. Following a win by Amirr, Paulillo, Skimmons and Pierson in the 200 free relay (1:53.81), Ruoff returned to win the 100 backstroke in 1:08.48.

As for coach Patrick Craig’s boys team, the Rams lost a bunch of seniors to graduation in June, but Craig believes not much has changed.

“The team this year is looking to pick up right where we left off,” he said. “We had a strong showing last season under a new direction from the coaching staff. We lost six strong seniors, but this year’s seniors are stepping up in big ways to help keep our program moving forward.”

The Rams’ senior core is solid, led by prominent returners Jackson Hughes, Aidan McInerney, Greg Lee, Russ Hill, Noah Hanvey and Austin Widmer. Matthew Verbeke, Kameron Davis, Zach Girgenti, Aidan Olcott, Joshua Styler and Andrew McGivney complete the senior class of Rams.

With Beck Jaffe the only junior returning to the lineup, Southern has an extensive crew of sophomores, including Kristian Werner, Sean White, Jake Jauch, Matt Adams, Cole Nemes, Gabriel Shehady, Bryan Kahl, Jack Burgos, Daniel Dunlap, Jack Matthew, Tyler Taglieri, Caleb Westpy, Carson Palletta and Sean Walsh. Freshmen Sean Hanvey, Luke Plesniarski and Justin Pollina round out the roster.

Craig’s boys also jumped out to a 3-0 start to begin the season, registering a 138-29 win over Point Pleasant Borough, a 96-74 victory over Toms River North and a 103-67 decision against Lacey.

Against the Panthers, the Rams started with Hanvey, White, Jaffe and Hughes winning the 200 medley in 1:48.32, before Hill took the top spot in the 200 free in 2:08.37, and Werner won the 200 IM in 2:10.95. After Hughes cruised to the win in the 50 free with a time of 23.90 seconds, Jaffe won the 100 fly in 1:00.90.

Hanvey won the 100 free in 55.31 seconds, while Hill won the 500 free in 5:54.97, and Hanvey returned for the win in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:05.00. Widmer won the 100 breaststroke in 1:12.38, before the team of Jaffe, McInerney, Hanvey and Werner capped the scoring in the 400 free relay with a winning time of 3:44.67.

Boys Bowling Squad
Stacked With High Rollers

Within the Shore Conference South B division, Brick and Brick Memorial are the typical frontrunners for the title during most seasons. Of course, with those two teams at the top, the race for third usually is a hot one. This winter, the Southern boys bowling team may have enough in its tank to make a run at third and possibly second.

The Rams this winter are led by senior Robert Petrozzino, who came into the season as the bowler with the highest average among the starters from a year ago. Colin and Joe Wilkinson, Nick Marano, Cole Johansen and Andrew Christensen figure to among those Rams regularly vying for spots among the starting five each match.

Through Dec. 6, coach Tony Salvatore’s Rams were 5-4 following a 3-0 loss to division-leading and undefeated Brick. Petrozzino rolled games of 192, 207 and 187 for a 586 series, while Marano delivered a 534 series on game scores of 164, 154 and 216, and Colin Wilkinson ended with a 496 series after throwing a 175 and 183 during the first two games. Frost Bacchus finished with a 469 series after tossing games of 153, 161 and 155, and Andrew Christensen added a 181 in the second game and 209 in the third.

Days earlier, the Rams knocked off Brick Memorial, 2-1, after Petrozzino fueled the victory with games of 188, 216 and 172 for a 576 series, Colin Wilkinson contributed games of 192, 180 and 178 for a 550 series, and Johansen delivered a 510 series behind games of 187, 161 and 162. Joe Wilkinson added a 500 series with games of 192 and 162 as his best scores.

Meanwhile, the Southern girls’ squad – which lost three starters from its top five a year ago, including four-year starters Mackenzie Olson and Kat Camoosa – is off to a slow start to the season, going 1-8 through its first nine games through Dec. 6.

Leading the way for coach Ed Costa’s crew this winter are returning bowlers Cristina Ciborowski and Jordan Rizzo, while Riley Schoka, Kyla Bender, Olivia Wilbert and Kaitlyn Gonsalves will look to bring consistency throughout the lineup.

In a 3-0 loss to Brick on Dec. 6, Wilbert delivered a 450 series on scores of 147, 140 and 163, while Rizzo fired a 439 series following games of 144, 151 and 144, and Bender added a 399 behind scores of 135 and 140 during the first two games.

— David Biggy

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