By Wayne Witkowski
It was a solid weekend for Jackson Memorial High School’s swim teams in the Ocean County championships, as Patrick Idank won two gold medals and a silver for the boys’ team that finished second to Toms River High School North and Anna Francisco won three gold medals for the girls’ team that finished in fourth place.
“It was a really solid meet for our guys. Even others who did not medal had personal bests,” Jackson Memorial coach John Pelano said, as his team finished in third place last year. “It was really an exciting day watching the times drop and adding more kids to [qualifying for] the Shore Conference meet. We’re up to 10 now.”
The Shore Conference championships are Feb. 3 for the girls and the following day for the boys. Both are at the Ocean County YMCA.
Idank, a sophomore, swam to a school record of 1:59.65 in winning the 200-yard individual medley (IM) and won the 100 butterfly in 53.69, as Jackson Memorial racked up 209 points to finish second to Toms River High School North, which rolled with 410 points. Toms River North is unbeaten in the Shore Conference A South Division, and Jackson Memorial is second at 6-1 — losing only to Toms River North.
Idank has qualified for the state individual meet in both events at Gloucester County Institute of Technology March 3-4 based on his times in the IM at the county meet and his time of 53.0 in the butterfly for the Atlantic Club, where he also swims. That time carries over to high school qualifying and is .1 below the state meet qualifying time.
“Our whole team did great — a pretty good meet for us,” Idank said. “I’m happy with how I’ve been lowering my times for my high school and club teams. I was a little nervous at the county meet but once I got in the water, I felt strong. My butterfly is my favorite event, but I’m happy with how I swam in both.”
Idank also swam the butterfly leg on the second-place medley relay that was timed in 1:46.01. Jeremiah Navarro in the backstroke, John Chitrin in the breaststroke and Jacob Ariel in the freestyle swam the other legs. The four also teamed on the fifth-place 200 freestyle relay that finished in 1:37.70.
The top eight finishes get medals and the next eight contribute points to the team scoring.
Francisco, who is committed to Lehigh University, did not win the Outstanding Swimmer of the girls’ meet as she did the past two seasons. That went to Toms River North’s Marianna Molloy, who won four gold medals.
However, Francisco could not complain, as her winning times of 56.87 in the 100 butterfly and 57.69 in the 100 backstroke qualified her for the state individual championships for the third straight year. Her times were short of the county meet records she set last year in the butterfly (56.48) and backstroke (55.65) but were solid nonetheless.
“Definitely, the girl who won it is a friend of mine and she deserved it,” Francisco said of Molloy. “It was a good meet and a lot of other girls could have gotten the award, too. I was a little nervous and the other girls also were stressed during the week about it but realized we all need to go in with a positive mindset. I’m really happy with the outcome, especially the medley relay, and with how my times have been dropping.”
Francisco swam on the winning medley relay that qualified for the state meet in a time of 1:52.89 with Annalise Giuliano, Danielle Holmes and Jamie Navarro. All swam personal-best times in their respective legs of the relay. Francisco got a fourth medal in the 200 freestyle relay that finished third in 1:44.23 with the same four swimmers.
“I’m extremely impressed with our girls,” said Jackson Memorial girls coach Dave Wilson, whose team was only three points behind third-place finisher Southern Regional High School. “Anna Francisco and Annalise Giuliano tasted success in the past, and we had some others come in with experience. But we had to replace some leading swimmers and some were not in the same spotlight and to see them step up to personal bests and improve that dramatically was impressive to see.”
For the boys’ team, Jeremiah Navarro finished second in the backstroke in 59.14 and sixth in the butterfly in 59.22. Chitren was sixth in the 100 freestyle in 51.99 and clocked a personal best of 1:05.42 in the breaststroke.
Kyle Houssey qualified for the Shore Conference meet in two events based on his county championships times that gained points for his team in the standings: 1:11.34 for 13th place in the breaststroke and 56.08 for 14th place in the 100 freestyle.
Matt Pastore also qualified for the Shore Conference meet with a time of 5:43.19 in the 500 freestyle that was good for 11th place in the county meet, and Kenyon Burgess qualified in the breaststroke with a time of 1:03.25 for 12th place in the county meet. Zach Schmidt qualified for Shore Conference meet in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:04.60 for 15th place.
For the girls’ team, Giuliano and Holmes each also got four medals. Giuliano had a third-place finish in the 200 freestyle in 2:01.63 that was .15 off her school record, and she won a fourth-place medal in the 500 freestyle in 5:30.39, which was just short of her personal best.
Holmes was third in the breaststroke in 1:12.10 and seventh in the butterfly in 1:06.36 — both personal bests.
Nikki Rue also had a memorable day, as she swam to a personal best of 26.32 to tie for sixth place in the 50 freestyle, and she anchored the 400 freestyle relay that finished eighth in 4:19.31. Emily Busch, Kayley Tezbir and Jamie Klag also swam on that relay. Rue also finished 12th in the 100 freestyle in 1:01.69 — a time that qualified her for the Shore Conference championships.
Navarro was seventh in the breaststroke in a personal best of 1:17.00.
Klag also qualified for the Shore Conference meet with a 12th-place finish (1:09.67) in the butterfly.
The Jaguars have six girls who qualified for at least one event in that meet.
The team is 4-2 in dual meets.