Southern Regional Swim Teams Off to Hot Start With Wins Over Lacey, Tom River East

Dec 13, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy Southern’s Olivia Davis glides through the St. Francis Aquatic Center pool en route to victory in the 200-yard individual medley during the Rams’ victory over Lacey on Dec. 8.

For the past several years, there’s been a reason the Southern Regional girls swim team has been such a formidable opponent within the Shore Conference Class A South division. The Rams have had depth, and in the sport of swimming the first-place points are not the only ones that count.

That said, even though this year’s squad no longer has the services of former high scorers Gabrielle Cabaron, Laura Patterson and Abigael Coughlin – all of whom are competing at the college level this winter – the Rams probably will be in good shape. And, so far, their 2-0 start indicates that to be the case.

“Depth is very important,” said senior Kristin Maurer, part of the team’s distance crew. “Last year, a lot of our success was because we had a really good middle – the swimmers scoring second-, third- and fourth-place points – for most of the individual events. Some of those swimmers have moved up and will be our top scorers this season, but we’re still going to have depth because we have good younger swimmers now filling gaps in the middle.”

Last week, Southern’s depth was apparent in two solid victories. In the Rams’ opener on Dec. 6, they squashed Toms River East, 135-35, then followed with a 128-42 drubbing of Lacey on Dec. 8.

“The 2-0 start is really important for us because seeing that should make us feel good about ourselves,” Maurer said as her teammates did their cool-down following the win over the Lions. “But the good part is we still have a long way to go this season, and that means we’re just going to keep getting better. When we start swimming the more competitive teams in our division, we’re naturally going to swim better. We’re going to raise our game for the tougher opponents.”

That wasn’t an issue against Lacey, as Southern swept or at least grabbed the top two spots in most events.

The 200-yard medley relay team of Jacquelyn Kilcommons, Brianna Krebs, Phoebe Sprague and Abigail Malandro immediately sent the Rams into the lead with a time of 2:06.53, before Gracie Sprague delivered a time of 2:14.26 to win the 200-yard freestyle, and Olivia Davis cruised to victory in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:36.84. After Jillian Middleton won the 50-yard freestyle in 28.35 seconds, Phoebe Sprague came back with a 1:10.83 to snag first in the 100-yard butterfly, and Hannah Skimmons extended Southern’s lead with a 1:03.82 in the 100-yard freestyle.

Kilcommons easily won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 6:26.04 before the 200-yard freestyle relay of Gracie Sprague, Veronica Ruoff, Mia Amirr and Kaylyn Iusan scored the first-place victory in 1:53.64. Skimmons won the 100-yard backstroke in 1:15.32, while Malandro tore through the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:20.57, and the 400-yard freestyle relay of Iusan, Mya Pierson, Jillian Middleton and Phoebe Sprague capped the Rams’ winning effort with a 4:15.81.

Head coach Bill Entrikin said he was pleased by his team’s performance, given the fact most of his swimmers swam in only two events. Maurer said Entrikin was the true force behind the Rams’ success.

“Our biggest asset is our coaching,” she said. “We’re all so grateful for Mr. Entrikin, to have him as our coach. He’s incredibly encouraging, even though he pushes us to be our best. He’s the one who keeps us all going.”

Meanwhile, head coach Heather Clarey had her boys going at full throttle last week as well, and they, too, were rewarded with a 2-0 start after knocking off Toms River East, 100-67, in the opener, followed by a 127-42 win over Lacey.

“We lost a lot of guys who did different events, and now we mostly have an underclassmen team,” said Vinny Caprio, one of the team’s backstroke specialists. “For the upperclassmen, our role not only is to lead the team, but bring the younger swimmers along and help push them for what’s coming later in the season.”

After Thomas White, Austin Widmer, Tyler Ciaccio and Thomas Deakyne cruised to victory in the opening medley relay with a time of 1:59.81, Kameron Davis scored the win in the 200 free with a time of 2:21.25. In the 50 free, Jackson Hughes zipped to a first-place time of 23.22 seconds, before Ciaccio won the 100 fly in 1:01.98, and Hughes bounced right back to grab first in the 100 freestyle in 55 seconds.

Davis extended Southern’s lead with a 6:28.54 to win the 500 free, while the 200 free relay squad of Nick Botyan, Greg Lee, Noah Hanvey and Hughes easily snared the top spot with a 1:44.26. Hanvey came right back in the next event, the 100 backstroke, with a first-place time of 1:07.23, before Widmer won a tight 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:14.46, and the 400 free relay crew of Ciaccio, Deakyne, Tim English and Hughes finished off the team win with a time of 3:55.80.

“The big difference with not having a lot of guys back this year is that a lot of the younger swimmers don’t know what’s still coming,” Caprio said. “We have a lot of tough competition ahead, but now with the two wins everybody, at least, should know what to expect in terms of how we’re going to swim and that we’re going to improve every day. That’s the big key for us now, to make our personal-best times our next personal-best goal and keep striving to make those improvements.”

— David Biggy

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