PISCATAWAY, NJ - On Sunday afternoon at Rutgers University in Piscataway, the 13 members of the GL Men’s swim team put on outstanding individual efforts and placed fourth overall in the highly competitive Union County Swim Championships. With state #1 Westfield and #5 Scotch Plains in the arena, the team did not back down and finished the evening with 269 total points.
Jack O'Halloran placed second in the 500 Free and the relay team Killian Quinn, Duytam Vu, Jason Paprocki and Jason Wong finished third in the 200 freestyle relay.
The foursome of Killian Quinn, Declan Feely, Ellis Sartorio, and Chris Rampaul-Pino would get things started, finishing fourth in the 200 medley relay. In the 200 yard Freestyle event, junior Jimmy Pitingolo sent a charge into the team with a spirited race winning his heat and dropping his time by a few seconds. This would become the theme of the night for the Highlanders.
In the next heat, swimming in adjacent lanes, sophomore Dylan Wallace narrowly edged out freshman David Martinez giving the Highlanders some much needed points. Again, the duo each dropped a few seconds on their times in this event. In the 200 Individual Medley, senior Declan Feely dropped over 5 seconds and won his heat by a good margin. Sartorio would also drop time and finished in the top 10 in the event, while in the final heat of the 200 I M, senior Matt Zarrelli would place 6th overall dropping time and moving up from the 8th seed.
In the ever exciting 50 freestyle event, Jason Wong matched his best time of the year, 23.70, just touching out fellow Highlander Jason Paprocki by .01. Quinn would win his heat having his best time of the year, 22.17, a personal best time that would place him 5th in the county and qualifying him for the Meet of Champions at the end of the year.
In the 100 Butterfly event, Feely kept his great evening going by dropping time and winning his heat. Martinez, in the final heat of the event was able to use his technique to drop time and finish in the top 8. In the 100 freestyle, the trio of Wong, Paprocki, and Duytam Vu were lined up in adjacent lanes. They would finish 1, 2, 3, in their heat, each dropping time to achieve their season’s best individual results. In a heartwarming scene, the three came out of the pool arms around each other’s shoulders showing the kind of team spirit Coach David Closs has instilled in his team.
In the grueling 500 yard freestyle event, the GL boys would smash their best times of the year and drop altogether almost 40 seconds amongst the three individuals. Wallace would get things started by dropping 21 seconds to finish in a time of 5:23.44. In the final heat of the night, Zarrelli would drop 6 seconds and finish in 6th place and senior Jack O’Halloran shattered his personal best and placed 2nd overall in a time of 4:52.14. In the 200 freestyle relay, Quinn, Vu, Paprocki, and Wong finished in the 3rd place, qualifying for the Meet of Champions at season’s end and crushing their seed time with a 1:31.58.
In the 100 yard backstroke, O’Halloran again would better his seed time, finishing in 56.45 placing him 5th, while fellow Highlander Sartorio finished in 55.14, dropping his time and placing 4th overall.
Not to be outdone by his fellow senior co captains Zarrelli and Quinn, Andrew DelDuca jumped into the time dropping theme in the 100 breaststroke. DelDuca dropped a big chunk of time and posted his personal best of 1:13.83. Quinn knocked off 6 seconds in the event to finish in his best time of 1:05.98.
The final event of the night was the 400 Yard Freestyle Relay. The Highlander quartet of Wong, Paprocki, O’Halloran, and Zarrelli would drop almost 4 seconds to place 4th overall in the county.
The Highlander talent and depth from all classes are led by a core group of seniors who are poised to lead the team into the post season. Coach Closs and Coach Leahy have prepared these swimmers, teaching technique, sportsmanship and leadership.
Throughout the evening and the season, the comradery that has been built is overwhelming. Sites yesterday like Sartorio marching up and down the side of the pool deck urging his fellow teammates on, or the laughter and that could be heard as the Highlanders waited for their races in the bleachers is a sign that these boys have tremendous respect and admiration for each other.
The dual meet season will come to a close Thursday evening at home in a meet with Scotch Plains at 7:45 p.m. This will be Senior Night, recognizing GL senior swimmers. Come out and support the team as they put an end to their regular season and gear up for a run in the state playoffs.