PERTH AMBOY, NJ - Chatham girls swim coach Frank DiGiacomo knew it was too close to call. He had gone over all the times and he wasn't sure how the Cougars would separate themselves from a very good Summit team in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Public B state final on Thursday.
Then it happened. Freshman Flora Jeng and junior Isabella Hoie took first and second in the 50 freestyle.
"Going 1-2 in the 50 was completely unexpected," DiGiacomo said. "The 50 is always a tossup and I thought it was going to be a split decision. It could have been anything. The 50 is too close to call most times. Going 1-2 helped out big time right there. That kind of set the tone for going forward and gave us the energy that we needed to get the 200 free relay by .01. That was incredible."
Chatham was up by six points when it closed out the meet with a first-place in the 400 freestyle relay, taking the state sectional championship, 91-79, over Summit at the Raritan Bay YMCA.
Chatham advances to the state semifinals set for Tuesday at Passaic County Institute of Technology.
Cougar senior Hailey Harkins won the 200 individual medley, the 100 backstroke and swam the third leg on the winning 400 free relay; junior Sara Barrett won the 200 free, the 500 free and swam on both the winning 200 and 400 relays, and Jeng won the 50 free, was second in the 100 free and anchored both the 200 and 400 relay wins.
Sara Barrett and Flora Jeng talk about the Chatham win
Jeng and Hoie set the tone by finishing 1-2 in the 50 free (see video below), giving the Cougars their first lead of the meet against Summit. Jeng touched in 24.98, Hoie with a time of 25.03 and Summit's Emma Claus was third in 25.14.
Before the 200 freestyle relay, DiGiacomo told anyone who would listen poolside that it was going to be a fast race. "Don't blink or you'll miss it," he said.
The Cougars won by the slimmest of margins as Monica Iizuka, Anya D'Costa, Barrett and Jeng clocked 1:40.76, less than a blink ahead of Summit's team of Cecelia Webb, Dagney Donaldson, Caitlin Fagan and Claus, who touched in 1:40.77. Jeng finishes the race below.
In the 500 free, Chatham swept with Barrett taking first, Kaley Snarr second and Katie Crawford third, pushing Chatham in front, 59-51.
Chatham's 400 free relay of Barrett, Hoie, Harkins and Jeng clocked 3:38.09 to finish first and clinch the title for the Cougars (see below).
Chatham's team effort included a third from Snarr in the 200 freestyle; a second by Delaney Moynihan in the 200 individual medley; a second by Erica Iizuka and a fourth by Hoie in the 100 fly; a third by Monica Iizuka in the 100 back; a fourth by D'Costa in the 100 free, and a third by Moynihan in the 100 breast.