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State sectional tournament next for Bulldogs’ swimmers

Eric Sucar
A Freehold Township swimmer competes in the boys 200-meter medley relay during the meet against Colts Neck held at the Western Monmouth County YMCA in Freehold Township on January 12.

By Matthew Rocco

The area was well represented in the Shore Conference championship swimming meets, as the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School boys and Shore Regional High School girls both appeared in the top 10.

The Bulldogs entered the Shore Conference meet with a 9-1 record — their only loss coming against Manasquan High School Jan. 26 — and they took third place in the Monmouth County Championships.

At the conference championships, Rumson-Fair Haven had a solid showing in a meet that was largely dominated by Christian Brothers Academy (CBA). The Bulldogs placed 12th out of 31 teams at the Ocean County YMCA Jan. 29. But they were hoping for more.

“They were a little disappointed with how they swam,” Rumson-Fair Haven head coach Zach Wilson said.

With eight seniors swimming for the varsity squad, the veteran Bulldogs are hungry for a title.

“It’s a long season, and it’s tiring in the end. Hopefully, we can recharge and get a little momentum,” Wilson said.

CBA ran away with the Shore Conference title, amassing 486.5 total points for the Colts’ 26th straight championship. CBA swimmers won six of 11 events. With 143 points, St. Rose High School edged Marlboro High School’s score of 138 to place second.

Rumson-Fair Haven’s Hank Alderoty placed fifth in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 51.03, and he tied for seventh in the 50 freestyle. Hardy Hewson swam a ninth-place time of 5:09.32 in the 500 freestyle, and Andrew Bunt was 13th in the 100 breaststroke. The Bulldogs were eighth in the 400 freestyle relay.

The Bulldogs were scheduled to begin the NJSIAA tournament Feb. 2. In the first round, sixth-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven was paired with No. 7-seed Holmdel High School with a chance to face Governor Livingston High School, the No. 3 seed, in the Central Jersey Group C quarterfinals. The Bulldogs defeated Holmdel in a regular-season matchup this season.

Wilson said the Bulldogs have worked hard all season and despite losing some fast swimmers to graduation, the team did not miss a beat.

“The guys stepped it up,” Wilson said. “All in all, this has been a fun season — tiring, but fun.”

In the girls championship meet Jan. 30, Shore Regional’s Helen Grossman set a new Shore Conference record on her way to defending her title in the 100 butterfly. The senior posted a time of 55.53, beating her own time of 55.93 from two years ago. Grossman added another gold medal in the 50 freestyle (24.18).

Grossman has made a significant contribution to the Blue Devils’ success. A year ago, the Louisiana State University commit claimed fourth place in the 100 butterfly at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, where she will return later this month. Three other Shore Regional seniors — Julia Dunzelman, Sarah Dwyer and Elesabeth Racioppi — also qualified for this year’s Meet of Champions.

Shore Regional head coach Katie McGowan said the senior class, a group that also includes Kelly Kay, will leave a lasting impact on the program.

“They are a special group,” McGowan said. “Our seniors are all great leaders on the team. They definitely improved Shore swimming.”

The Blue Devils were eighth-best overall in the Shore Conference meet — the first time Shore Regional cracked the top 10.

“They did awesome. Our goal has been to be in the top 10, and we were 11th last year. This year, they all swam great,” McGowan said.

Dunzelman finished 12th in the 100 freestyle, and she tied for 12th in the 50 freestyle. The Blue Devils took third place in the 400 freestyle relay and sixth in the 200 medley relay.

Shore Regional, which posted a 7-3 record this season, earned sixth place at the Monmouth County Championships. The Blue Devils have one more dual meet to go against Red Bank Regional High School Feb. 4.

The Manasquan girls swimming team won the Shore Conference title, adding to a postseason run that also includes a Monmouth County championship.

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