NEPTUNE, NJ - The Governor Livingston girls swim team made their mark on Thursday night when they became the first team in the program's history to win back to back sectional championships, beating Metuchen 118-52 in the Central Public C group final at the Neptune Aquatic Center. The team triumphed over Red Bank Regional last year to win their first sectional title in over a decade.
The Lady Highlanders charged hard in the first race of the day, the 200 medley relay, taking first (Bailey Gold, Nicole Biegel, Rachel Heeren, Sarah Polizzi) and second place (Taylor Rooney, Danielle Curtis, Serena Shen, Julia Woo) in an event that contributes major points. The team was up by 10 points before the start of the second event. Next, in the 200 free, Aidan Donahue, Ashley Chang and Phoebe Kim came in 2nd, 3rd and 4th in this event and brought the score to 21-9.
The 200 IM saw a first place finish by Sarah Montagna, with Shen taking 3rd and Danielle Curtis pulling up in 4th. The freestyle sprinters put on a show when Polizzi, Sena Hur and Woo made a 1-2-3 sweep of the 50 free. The score heading into the break was 45-17.
Gold kicked of the second half of the meet with a win in the 100 fly, with Heeren taking 2nd and Shen placing 4th. In the 500 freestyle, distance freestyler Montagna was neck and neck with Metuchen's Bridget Thomas the entire race, but found herself out touched at the end. However, she scored a time that qualified her for the Meet of Champions, which had eluded her all season. Donahue placed 3rd in the 500 free, and Woo placed 4th.
"Sarah [Montagna] making the MOC cut in the 500 free was outstanding," said Gov. Livingston head coach David Closs. "I am so excited for her because she has been chasing that cut for four years."
The 200 free relay saw another 1 - 3 finish, with Polizzi, Chang, Montagna and Donahue taking the win and Hur, Biegel, Rooney and Woo taking 3rd.
Going into the final three events, the team had the win firmly in hand with a score of 87-37, but that did not dampen their drive in the least. Gold took the win in the 100 back, with Heeren taking 2nd and Kim coming in 4th. The last individual event, the 100 breast, saw a tight race between the top three swimmers, with Curtis taking first place and Biegel taking 3rd.
The team capped off the meet with a win in the 400 freestyle relay (Montagna, Donahue, Heeren, Gold), with the team Chang, Hur, Charlotte Roder and Kim taking 3rd.
"The girls were just fantastic today, I could not have been more proud of them, especially our seniors," said Closs. "Everyone contributed in one way or another --I think we only had one sixth place in the entire meet and that's a tribute to how hard the girls swam and how much they wanted to win."
In addition to Montagna's 500 free MOC cut, other freestylers made an impression on Closs today. "Sarah Polizzi was great with a win in the 50 free, and Ashley Chang had an outstanding meet as a freshman, going a 56 in the 100 free," he said.
As they did last year, the team will meet up with Haddonfield in the state semi-final on Tuesday, February 20 at Passaic County Technical Institute at 4 p.m.