Barnegat Boys Swim Team Makes Use of Depth to Oust Cedar Creek in State Tourney
What has transpired this season for the Barnegat High School boys swim team really began last year, when the Bengals were winning meets far more than losing them and former star Parker Teliszewski had become one of the big names among Shore Conference swimmers.
“Last year, we had a wonderful season,” said senior Dan Koser following the Bengals’ 105-65 victory over Cedar Creek in the NJSIAA South Jersey Public C quarterfinals at St. Francis Aquatic Center on Feb. 10. “We had a really good team with a lot of seniors leading us, and we had a lot of success. But that success pushed all the younger swimmers, myself included, to strive for better.
“And this year, we had freshmen, who were coming up to us before the season, telling us how much they admired Parker and wanted to be the kind of swimmer he was. So that helped as well. This season has been all about our depth and everybody pushing themselves.”
The Bengals made use of their depth against the Pirates en route to the third state-tournament victory in program history. And from the first four events it was evident which team had the most firepower, as Barnegat jumped out to a 41-19 lead and never looked back.
After the 200-yard medley relay of Gareth Aguilar, Dan Koser, Kyle Smith and Vinny Bolognese cruised to a first-place finish with a time of 1:50.93 and the crew of Michael Koser, Dylan Cappuccio, Matthew Zielinski and Kaden Jason took third in 1:56.83, Colby Pearson (2:03.73) and Jordan Burton (2:09.30) grabbed first and third, respectively, in the 200-yard freestyle, while Dan Koser clocked a 2:18.37 and Cappuccio touched the wall in 2:22.87 to grab first and third in the 200-yard individual medley.
Bolognese then swiped first in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.59 seconds, followed by teammates Aguilar (:25.93) and Jason (:28.01) in third and fourth to outscore the Pirates 11-5 for a third straight event and push the gap to 24 points.
“We were pretty confident we could win this meet,” Bolognese said. “We know a meet can turn at any point, but it helped being in our home pool. They swim in a metered pool, which is longer, so they might not have been as comfortable as we were, because we know the turns, the length, what works for us here. But we were pumped up. We wanted to win our last home meet today.”
The Bengals scored nine points in each of the next two events, as Smith took second in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:00.63 and was closely followed by Jordan Burton (1:04.77) and Zielinski (1:05.89) in the third and fourth, before Bolognese (:57.29), Michael Koser (:57.56) and Aguilar (:58.87) finished second through fourth in the 100-yard freestyle to put the meet out of reach, 72-38.
From there, Barnegat coasted, with the team of Jason, Avery Boyer, Maxwell Lares and Pearson finishing second in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:46.41, Smith winning the 100-yard backstroke in 1:06.66 and Dan Koser snagging first in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:09.43.
Heading into the last event – the 400-yard freestyle relay – the Bengals led, 99-57, before the foursome of Aguilar, Michael Koser, Bolognese and Dan Koser grabbed second (3:47.46) and the quartet of Pearson, Lares, Zielinski and Smith snatched third (3:58.08) to cap the scoring.
“We’ve been solid and consistent all season,” said Dan Koser, one of just three seniors on the squad. “You can have four, five or six fantastic swimmers who are always winning events, but in this sport you really need many more who can get those second-, third-, fourth-place points because they all matter. And this season, we’ve had that all-around good team with depth in most events.”
Unfortunately, the end of the road arrived on Monday, Feb. 13, when the Bengals lost to Haddonfield, 102-68, in the Public C semifinals. Pearson won the 500 free in 5:53.71, while Dan Koser won the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.96, and the team of Bolognese, Michael Koser, Aguilar and Dan Koser won the 400 free relay in 3:52.61, as the Bengals finished the season at 8-3.
“We’re really a big family,” Bolognese said. “We’ve put in a lot of time in the pool and some of us have been around each other a lot the past four years. But even beyond the pool, most of us spend a lot of time with each other doing other things. So, we had a lot of confidence in each other because we trusted each other. This is a special team.”
— David Biggy