I missed out on the Northern Highlands-Ramapo girls and Demarest-Northern Highlands boys meet yesterday, but it wasnâ€™t my decision. I had to work the desk last night and compile the results from every sport Monday night so they can run in Tuesdayâ€™s paper. I did get Highlands coachÂ Tom ViscardiÂ on the phone, though, and he gave me the recap of his two meets.
But Highlands wasnâ€™t the only team in action Monday night. The Kinnelon girls advanced to their third straight sectional title, the Demarest and Tenafly boys also punched their tickets to the sectional final, and the Ridgewood boys picked up a first-round state tourney win to advance to the sectional semifinals.
Now, I hate calling these teams â€œlosersâ€ today, because all five of these teams â€” the Wayne Hills, Ramapo and River Dell/Westwood girls and Northern Highlands and DePaul boys â€” had great years and each had their moment in the spotlight at various times this year. But all five teamsâ€™ seasons ended Monday night, but I believe weâ€™ll be seeing a few of those individual swimmers down at the state Meet of Champions later this year.
Hereâ€™s a breakdown of Mondayâ€™s action, with some added commentary on each team.
North 1, Public B SemifinalsÂ
NORTHERN HIGHLANDS 105, RAMAPO 65Â â€“ The other day I started coming up with Swimmer of the Year candidates. Of course, thereâ€™s still time left in the season, but Wayne Valleyâ€™sÂ Meaghan Oâ€™Donnell is definitely worthy, Demarestâ€™sÂ Christina Paspalas is in the conversation, Ramapoâ€™s two.. maybe even three girls.. inÂ Lena DiPrizito,Â Katie Murphy andÂ Julia Perry have all had outstanding years, as has Kinnelonâ€™s Abby Fisher. And then I realized that the top two teams in North Jersey â€” IHA and Northern Highlands â€” are more of a product of their unparalleled depth more so than their individual talent. Viscardi even said, â€œWeâ€™re never gonna be that team that relies on one or two girls. We swim as a team and we win as a team.â€
Madeline Wolf would probably be the Highlandersâ€™ Swimmer of the Year nominee (Sara NestrowitzÂ probably for IHA), but girls likeÂ Maggie McElwain, Caitlin Grady,Â Katie Ogden,Â Madison Cullinan,Â Caitlyn Bach, Marissa Lauber, Genevieve Donahue, Paulina Lengel, Isabella Biagioli (and thereâ€™s more, too) are what makes Highlands so dangerous at the state level. Collectively, they make Highlands so tough to beat, which Ramapo found out firsthand Monday night. â€œAll of them want to contribute,â€ Viscardi said. â€œThey all want to do their part. Every kid wants to chip in and compete.â€
In the North 1, Public B semifinals, Highlands came away with a 40-point victory to earn a return trip to the sectional final (and yet another meeting with nemesis Mountain Lakes), highlighted by Wolfâ€™s two individual event wins in the 200 freestyle (2:03.05) and 100 freestyle (55.75) and Gradyâ€™s win in the 100 breast stroke (1:12.47), beating Bergen County champion, Lena DiPrizito. Perhaps the most impressive win of the day, though, came from Highlandsâ€™ 200 freestyle relay team â€” Grady, Ogden, Bach and Wolf â€” which beat the Big Four of Ramapo â€” Madison Nowak, Perry, Murphy and DiPrizito â€” with a time of 1:45.70.
â€œThe girls are very excited,â€ Viscardi said. â€œTheyâ€™ve been kind of working to get back to this point. We have some extra confidence knowing we beat them [Mountain Lakes] last year and our girls are ready for the challenge and excited about the opportunity.â€
Viscardi said a lot of the Highlandsâ€™ swimmers are rounding into form at exactly the right time. He said Wolf is â€œa big piece to what we do and seems to step up in big meet situationsâ€ and that Gradyâ€™s win in the 100 Breast â€œwill go a long way for her and her confidence going into Thursday.â€
â€œThe girls are definitely fired up,â€ Viscardi added. â€œWhen they watch their teammates have success, they all feed off that. Everyone wants to do their part. I would say our senior veterans started off at a solid point, and theyâ€™ve been building and building as the seasonâ€™s gone on. I attribute that to them knowing whatâ€™s important. They know when they need to pick it up and right nowâ€¦ all of them are hitting their best times. We have a lot of club swimmers, but I think the high school season really means a lot to them. I think finishing strong is important to them.â€
Monday, the turning point came in the 100 Freestyle, when Wolf and Ogden went 1-2. Viscardi also said getting a 1-2 out of Wolf and McElwain in the 200 Freestyle was big, too. â€œMaddie and Maggie gave us some cushion after the 200 free,â€ Viscardi said. â€œAnd when Maddie and Katie took 1-2 in the 100 free, that was the turning point of the meet. â€¦ I was actually a little concerned with how this meet would affect the girlsâ€™ confidence, knowing we might lose some races because Ramapo has some great swimmers. I went into it saying â€˜Hey, the most important thing is to win the meet. Going 2-3-4 is worth more than first place anyway, so go out and do your job and letâ€™s get ready for Thursday.â€™ â€
North 2, Public B Semifinals
KINNELON 112, SUMMIT 58 â€” Â Kinnelon cruised Monday night to its third consecutive sectional final, finishing first in all 11 events. Mackenzie Heffernan won the 200 freestyle (2:01.14) and 100 butterfly (1:00.66),Â Meghan ThompsonÂ won both sprints â€” the 50 freestyle (25.33) and 100 freestyle (56.67) â€” and UNC-boundÂ Abby Fisher won the 200 IM (2:15.23) and 100 breast stroke (1:08.71). Fisherâ€™s 100 Breast would have been tops at this yearâ€™s Bergen Meet of Champions, by the way.Â Nicole CaciÂ won the 500 freestyle at 5:39.53 andÂ Christina CirilloÂ won the 100 back stroke at 1:04.83. The Colts will now await the winner of No. 2 Mendham/No. 3 New Providence. Last year, Kinnelon lost to Haddonfield by a mere four points in the Public B state semifinals, and when I talked to Fisher earlier this year, advancing one step further â€” to the state final â€” was something the ColtsÂ really wanted this year. Itâ€™s definitely possible, too.
Quick note: If Kinnelon and Northern Highlands both capture sectional titles, itâ€™s unlikely they would face each other in the state semifinals. Since Kinnelon is second in power points and Northern Highlands is fourth, the Colts would would get No. 3 Mainland and the Highlanders would get No. 1 Chatham. Again, thatâ€™s assuming all No. 1 seeds win sectional championships. Imagine a Highlands-Kinnelon Public B final? Sign me up for that.
North 1, Public B Semifinals
MOUNTAIN LAKES 120, WAYNE HILLS 50 â€” Wayne Hills coachÂ Mike ShaleÂ knew what he and his team were up against in Mountain Lakes on Monday, and the season-ending loss in the sectional semifinals doesnâ€™t diminish all the good the Pats did this year. I was there for the Passaic County title â€” Hillsâ€™ fourth county title in a row. I saw the first half of what ended up being an epic battle with Fair Lawn at the Big North league meetâ€¦ And just last week, I saw Hills advance to Mondayâ€™s sectional semifinals with a first-round state win over Sparta.
I saw the start of what looks like a very promising career forÂ Sam Kauffman, who was Hillsâ€™ only individual event winner Monday with her first-place finish in the 100 Back (1:03.21). I saw coach Mike Shale pick up his first-ever state tournament win. I sawÂ Ilana Kleinfeld finish her career with four straight county titles and become a senior leader on a team that overcame some notable early-season injuries. Remember, Hillsâ€™ lost Daria Vandermay and Samantha Zarro to season-ending injuries last fall and had to replace the graduated Stephanie Urresty â€” a 14-time first-place medalist at the county championships. SistersÂ EmmaÂ and Gabi CancelÂ (who I canâ€™t tell apart for some reason) helped fill those holes and will both be back next yearâ€¦ as willÂ Victoria Mayer, a sophomore who plans to return to club swimming this off-season in hopes of lowering her times next winter.Â Liz GokhmanÂ and Mary Kate Barone, two swimmers who always seemed to be picking up important points for Hills, will also be returning next year. So, as good as 2012-2013 was for Wayne Hills, things could be even better next season.
North 1, Public A Quarterfinals
WESTFIELD 129, RIVER DELL/WESTWOOD 41 â€” Well, this one went pretty much as expected, as River Dell/Westwood ran into the stateâ€™s No. 1 team in Westfield. And even though RD-W lost out on the division title this year to Pascack Regional, there were still some highlights.Â For one, RD-W was the first and only team to defeat Fair Lawn in a dual meet this year, doing so in the sectional â€œSwim-Offâ€ meet to earn the No. 8 seed. Secondly, Maddy TooheyÂ won the division title this year in the 50 Free and took second in the 100 Free,Â Gabby Denicola won the division title in the 500 Free (also took third in the 100 Fly) â€” and teammateÂ Rebecca BronfeldÂ took third andÂ Emily ReynoldsÂ took second in the division in the 200 IM, whileÂ Julia LombardiÂ took fifth. The 400 Free Relay team of Reynolds, Denicola, Toohey andÂ Sophie Scholes also won the division title last month, as River Dell/Westwood took second to Pascack Regional, 312-287.
North 1, Public B SemifinalsÂ
DEMAREST 96, NORTHERN HIGHLANDS 74Â â€“Â Â I had planned on calling Demarest coach Mike Ives last night to get the in-depth recap on this one, but things got incredibly busy in the office last night and then it got too late. Viscardi talked to me briefly about it, though, and how talented Demarest is. Iâ€™m looking forward to seeing No. 1 Demarest vs. No. 2 Tenafly in Thursdayâ€™s sectional final in a rematch of an earlier regular season meet, which Demarest won, 97-73. I believe that meet will take placeÂ right after the Highlands girls take on Mountain Lakes at Passaic Tech.Â Terry LiÂ gets a lot of the attention for Demarest, and rightfully so, heâ€™s that goodâ€¦ but itâ€™s impossible to lead Public B in power points without a serious supporting cast. With 4,175 power points, the Norsemen are actually the favorite to win the state title this year (next closest is Princeton, with 4,036.5).Â John Kilduff won the 200 IM on Monday (2:07.97),Â Roy AnÂ took first in the 50 freestyle (23.62),Â Dan Oh won the 100 butterfly (58.94),Â Andrew RoÂ took first in the 100 backstroke (59.28), Li won the 100 breast stroke (1:00.38), Luke Rutigliano â€” along with Ro, Li and Kilduff â€” won the 200 Medley Relay at 1:42.37. Thatâ€™s Â six reasons right there why Demarest is where itâ€™s at right now. And the best might be yet to come.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it was the end of the road for Northern Highlands, after an epic come-from-behind win over Ramapo a few days ago. They knew it was a long shot to upset Demarest on Monday, but they put up a fight and battled.Â Junior Max DistlerÂ won another two events â€” the 200 freestyle (1:57.90) and 500 freestyle (5:05.76) â€” and Alex BakerÂ took first in the 100 freestyle (53.07). The 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams also both took first place, with Distler, Baker,Â Jad Groome â€” one of the heroes vs. Ramapo â€” andÂ Mike Keenan making up both winning squads. Viscardi said he was happy that his team rallied from behind last week to earn a spot in Mondayâ€™s semifinals. I expect to see some of you Highlands boys at Thursdayâ€™s girls meet after they came and supported you guys last week vs. â€˜Po.
North 1, Public B Semifinals
TENAFLY 99, MOUNTAIN LAKES 71 â€” Â No. 2 Tenafly put forth a dominant performance Monday night, winning nine of the 11 events â€” led byÂ Jin Roh,Â Amit Bachar,Â Kevin Guo andÂ Greg Spiropoulos. Roh won two events, Bachar won two events, Guo won the 100 Free and Spiropoulos won the 100 Breast. You have to imagine Tenafly is excited to get a second crack at Demarest after falling to them earlier this season. They took third at the Bergen County meet, too, behind Bergen Catholic and Demarest. Pretty sure those are Tenaflyâ€™s only two dual meet losses this year â€” to BC and Demarest. Do they have enough to take down powerhouse Demarest on Thursday?
North 1, Public A Quarterfinals
RIDGEWOOD 97, MONTCLAIR 73 â€” Â Because of the snowstorm, No. 4 Ridgewoodâ€™s first-round matchup with No. 5 Montclair was postponed until Monday, but the layoff didnâ€™t affect the Maroons.Â Evan FischerÂ won two individual events â€” the 200 Freestyle (1:53.00) and 100 breast stroke (1:04.98) â€” and teammateÂ Dante Cosentino won the 500 freestyle at 5:36.41. The only other individual event Ridgewood won was in the 200 freestyle relay withÂ Tim Daly,Â Jack Bragg,Â John ParkÂ andÂ John Sheridan, clocking in with a time of 1:40.92. The Maroons will likely take on top-seeded Westfield in the sectional semifinals. The winner of that will face No. 2 Millburn, who defeated Randolph Monday, in the sectional final.
Non-Public, North A Quarterfinals
SETON HALL PREP 108, DePAUL 62Â â€“ It was a tough draw for the Spartans, going up against state-power and top-seeded Seton Hall Prep, and it was the end of the road for No. 8 DePaul on Monday. Still, this yearâ€™s Spartan squad did something no team in school history had doneâ€¦ and that was win a Passaic County championship. On Monday,Â Aidan Steinberg won the 200 freestyle (1:53.69),Â Logan AmodioÂ won the 100 butterfly (56.84) andÂ Matt DelaporteÂ earned two first-place finishes, in the 500 freestyle (5:11.22) and 100 breast stroke (1:02.35). I remember Delaporte telling me how they were motivated last month by the empty swimming banner with no county titles on it. Delaporte, Amodio and Steinberg were three key pieces to finally ending that title drought.
Whatâ€™s going on with the other Non-Publics?Â The IHA girls must be bored, since they earned a bye right into the North, Non-Public A sectional final. They wonâ€™t be swimming for a few more days, but then two wins and theyâ€™re state champs. And the Bergen Catholic, Don Bosco and Paramus Catholic boys are all, I think, still alive. They were scheduled to swim on Monday, but I never received any results. BC coachÂ Jason SchlerethÂ is good with sending in scores, so I doubt BC swam yesterday against Paramus Catholic. Bosco was scheduled to face St. Peterâ€™s Prep on Monday, but I didnâ€™t see any result anywhere.