By Tim Morris
Combining individual star power with depth, the Marlboro High School boys swimming team put together an impressive 2015-16 season.
In addition to high finishes in the Monmouth County (fourth) and Shore Conference (third) championships, the Mustangs won the Shore Conference A North Division public school championship and qualified for the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV tournament.
Marlboro, which took on a challenging non-division schedule, finished the season with a 7-4-1 mark, losing its final meet to top-seed Toms River High School North in the state sectional.
Mustangs’ head coach Michael Walsh was not surprised by his team’s success in the water.
“The boys had a great season,” he said. “I knew we had a solid team going into the season. The strongest part of our team were our relays. Our 200 medley relay and 200 free relay (James Rush, Ryan Meng, Tristian Nguyen, and Vincent D’Amato) were both top three in the shore [and] county.
“We also had very good sprinters in the 50 [and] 100-yard freestyle. James Rush and Ryan Meng gave us the chance to win any individual event they were entered in.”
Rush, a junior, blossomed into one of the best sprinters in the Shore, and he is headed to the NJSIAA Individual Championship in both the 50 and 100.
Rush won the 50-yard freestyle at the county meet. At the conference meet, he opted for the longer 100, which he also won. The junior’s winning time, 48.11, met the qualifying standard for the state individual meet. He had met the 50 standard at the county meet.
Rush displayed his versatility at Shore Conference meet, finishing third in 100 backstroke. His time, 53.57, was a state qualifier.
Meng had top-five finishes in two events at the conference championships. He was fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:05.12) and third in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.93).
Both Mustangs’ relay teams scored with the 200 Medley Relay taking third (1:44.57) and the 400 freestyle placing fifth (3:32.19).
The team of Pole Lee, Ryan Luo, Darren Wone and Eric Lou were 11th in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:39.44) in the conference meet, which was at the Ocean County YMCA in Toms River Jan. 29.
Howell is also having a fine season in the pool. The Rebels are 6-1 in A North, but the lone loss was to Marlboro, costing them the chance to win the division.
Marco Salvatore and Vincent Salvatore have been the Rebels’ best swimmers. Marco Salvatore was ninth in the 200 freestyle (1:55.50), and Vincent Salvatore finished 11th in the 200 IM (2:10.64) at the conference championships.
Matthew Waldhelm and Matthew Kittel have made the Rebels competitive in the 200 and medley relays.
Standing out for the Freehold Regional High School District at the conference championships were Jonathan Veintimailla, 15th in the 50 freestyle (23.98) and 100 freestyle (53.27), and Mitchell Malakhov, 15th in the 200 IM (2:12.16), from Freehold High School, as well as and Freehold Township High School’s Evan Prendergast, 14th in the 100 backstroke (1:01.15).
Freehold Township was 5-3 in dual meets this winter with losses to Marlboro and Howell in A North.
The individual state championship meet is Feb. 27-28 at Gloucester County Institute of Technology in Sewell.