NEPTUNE, NJ - The Governor Livingston girls swim team made history Friday night at the Neptune Aquatics Center when they won the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Public C sectional title for the third year in a row, beating number one seed Rumson-Fair Haven with a score of 88-82.
The team won in the most dramatic fashion. GL held a lead for most of the meet, but after a disqualification in the 200 freestyle relay they found themselves heading into the final event of the day, the 400 freestyle relay, with the score tied at 78-78. The mood was electric at the start of the event, which saw both teams neck and neck until the final stretch. Sophomore Rachel Heeren, who anchored the relay, dug deep and ended up out touching the Rumson-Fair Haven swimmer by .04, handing the victory to an ecstatic GL.
"In a crazy way the meet did end up the way I planned it out, I really did think it was going to come down to the last relay," said GL Head Coach David Closs. "I just didn't think it would happen this way. You could tell the girls were dying--to swim four times in an hour is so hard--but they did it, and it's an incredibly gutsy thing to win three sectional titles in a row." GL has never had another girls swim team win three consecutive sectional championships, making today's win especially sweet.
The team swam confidently throughout the match up. The 200 medley relay team of Bailey Gold, Danielle Curtis, Rachel Heeren and Sena Hur took an early command of the meet by taking a win in the day's first event. The 200 freestyle saw a second place finish by sophomore Ashley Chang, along with a fifth place point added by freshman Ella Ferrigno.
Senior Bailey Gold took first place in the 200 IM with a season best time, and junior Charlotte Roder and freshman Rebekah Chuba chipped in with fourth and fifth place points as well.
Sophomore Caroline Kolmodin, fresh off her record-breaking 50 freestyle swim in Monday's semi-final meet, nabbed first in that event, with Sena Hur taking third and Taylor Rooney taking fifth. Heeren took first in the 100 fly and junior Danielle Curtis took third place. Kolmodin came back to also win the 100 free, with Chang grabbing third and Hur taking fifth.
Gold took first in the 500 free, Ferrigno took fourth and Amanda Polizzi (who dropped 30 seconds from her seed time in Monday's semi-final meet and swam that time again today) took fifth. Closs pointed out how crucial swims like Polizzi's are in championship meets. "She had a great swim, one that was really important, taking fifth place...that's a huge thing," he said. "If you don't get that fifth place, that's a two point swim and who knows what can happen going into the last relay."
"We had a million great swims like that today," he added.
The 100 back had Heeren taking another win, and sophomore Phoebe Kim (third place) and Roder (fifth place) also added points in the event.
Heading into the breaststroke, GL had a two point lead. A second place finish in that event by Danielle Curtis, along with Rooney's fourth place and Chuba's fifth place finishes, saw the teams tied 78-78 as they approached the last event of the day, the 400 freestyle relay. The determined quartet of Kolmodin, Chang, Kim and Heeren rose to the occasion and scored the day's final victory.
Closs was thrilled with the three-peat, and gave a nod to his group of seniors. "We have had really great leadership with Bailey and Sena, and as I've told them, it's no surprise that we've been to four sectional finals because four years ago we had the arrival of Bailey and Sena and Olivia Mckeon," he said. "Obviously, we had some other great classes and other great girls but the arrival of these girls in many ways was the key to all of this."
The team will take on Haddonfield on Wednesday, 2/20 at Raritan Bay YMCA for the state semi-final meet.