By Wayne Witkowski
Jackson Liberty High School girls’ and boys’ swimmers turned in solid performances at the Ocean County championships at the Ocean County YMCA last weekend.
John Nutt, who missed a few school days with a stomach virus last week, did his best to help lead his team. Nutt finished in sixth place for a medal in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:55.74 Jan. 13. He also swam on the 200 medley relay that medalled with a seventh-place finish in 1:53.29 with John Goldenberg, Derek Catron and Tom Ferullo and the 400 freestyle relay that finished 10th in 3:55.31 with Hunter Bulin, Nick Avilleira and Ferullo.
By the time Nutt got to the breaststroke, coach John Disanza said he was fatigued coming off the illness and the other events and finished out of a medal in the breaststroke in 1:12.64.
The top eight finishers get gold medals and the next eight contribute to team points.
“I’m really happy with how the team did as many swam personal bests,” Disanza said.
Jackson Liberty’s boys finished in 10th place. Nutt has been integral to the Lions’ 4-2-1 record overall and in the Shore Conference B Central Division.
Along with Nutt’s efforts, the boys also got a boost from Catron, who finished 10th in the breaststroke in 1:10.92 and helped the 400 freestyle relay finish 10th in 3:55.31. Hunter Bulin, Avilleira and Ferullo swam the other legs.
Jackson Liberty’s boys also got personal bests in the freestyle events, including Aaron Spexarth (6:10.80) in the 500 and Steve Lind (2:29.34) and Zack White (2:31.51) in the 200.
Carrie Spexarth, who set three school records this season, led Jackson Liberty’s girls to a ninth-place finish in the county meet Jan. 14 — an improvement over last year. She notched fifth-place finishes in the 100 backstroke in a school record time of 1:02.36 — surpassing her previous school mark of 1:05.21 — and the 200 individual medley (IM) in 2:23.09. Spexarth holds the school record in the IM in 2:22.58 and also has the school record of 5:52.83 in the 500 freestyle. She has qualified for the Shore Conference meet that takes place Feb 3 at the Ocean County YMCA in the IM and 500 freestyle.
“Carrie really has taken on a huge role on the team as a freshman,” coach Liz Russo said. “She has proven time and time again that she can handle it and because of that, I’ve come to rely on her to be able deliver in those high-pressure situations. Carrie works incredibly hard; I’ll give her a hard set in practice and she doesn’t even bat an eyelash. So, as a coach seeing her thrive like this, it’s just fun and so rewarding. I couldn’t be more proud. She’s one of those kids that will just grit her teeth and get it done, and what coach doesn’t love that?”
Spexarth has helped the Lions to a 3-4 record in dual meets and was part of 10 personal-best times set by the girls’ swimmers.
“That was great. I couldn’t ask for more,” Russo said of the personal-best times. “This year is about building more success off last year individually and as a team. We won only one [dual] meet last year and this year, we are shooting for a .500 record. We’re off to a good start.”
Danielle Trasky, who set the school record in the 100 butterfly in 1:08.61 and qualified for the Shore Conference meet in the 100 freestyle, excelled in the 200 freestyle in the county meet with a personal best of 2:18.19 for 12th place. Trasky is team co-captain with Haley Kavanagh.
Christie Fuszko set personal bests in the 200 freestyle in 2:28.99 and 100 freestyle in 1:06.87. Samantha Voicheck swam a personal best of 30.53 in the 50 freestyle, while Hannah Macauley swam a personal best of 1:16.50 in the backstroke.