NEPTUNE, NJ - Governor Livingston boys swim team rolled to the school’s first ever Sectional title Thursday afternoon at Neptune Aquatic Center defeating No. 1 seed Lawrence 92.5-77.5.
A senior laden team that had been to the playoffs the past three years, learned from their heartbreak in past years and used that experience to bring the NJSIAA Central Jersey C title home to Berkeley Heights.
Coaches David Closs and Sharon Leahy kept the team focused and on track throughout the season and the playoff run to achieve their goal. The coaches also put together a lineup that showed the team's depth.
In the opening 200 Medley Relay, the Highlanders stormed out to take first and second to give them a 10 point lead that they would never relinquish. The top team of Ellis Sartorio, Killian Quinn, Declan Feely, and Jason Paprocki won the event in a time of 1:42.66. It was Coach Closs’ second relay that shocked the top seeded Cardinals from Lawrence High. Finishing second was the quartet of Jack O’Halloran, Chris Rampaul-Pino, Matt Zarrelli, and Duytam Vu, which helped give GL an early double digit lead.
Lawrence was not going to roll over -- they came back to win the next two events. In the 200 freestyle, Anthony Weiss posted a 1:48.70, yet Dylan Wallace showed his determination and came back to place second. In the 200 Individual Medley, Zarrelli (2:03.24) posted his best time of the year but was out touched by James Keane and the score was 25-21 in favor of GL. The Cardinals would never get any closer.
Quinn (22.13) and Jason Wong (23.18) finished 1 and 2 in the 50 Freestyle with Paprocki tying for third place. In the 100 Butterfly, the Highlanders held their opponents at bay with David Martinez (55.29) placing second, Rampaul-Pino third, and Feely fifth. Wong, Paprocki, and Vu followed up with a 2 through 4 finish in the 100 freestyle to push the lead to 53.5-40.5.
O’Halloran earned a Meet of Champions time in the 500 freestyle -- finishing first in a time of 4:50.45. After a first and third place finish in the 200 freestyle relay, the GL boys had a 21 point advantage. Sartorio won the 100 backstroke (55.49) and Quinn (1:06.02) and Rampaul-Pino (1:06.93) finished first and second in the 100 Breaststroke. The Highlanders had pushed the match out of reach with only the 4x100 Relay to go.
In the end, the final score read 92.5-77.5 and Governor Livingston finally had their first ever Boys State title in swimming, while denying Lawrence of their's. [Lawrence has made an appearance in the past six finals, three as the top seed.]
The senior leadership of the team coupled with the injection of some talented underclassmen helped GL to their 8-3 record. The seniors on the team have accomplished this success through being together the past four years: co-captains Andrew DelDuca, Killian Quinn, and Matt Zarrelli, Declan Feely, Jack O’Halloran, Evan Wallace, Jason Wong, Ian Tumulty, and manager Austin Alfaro.
The team will get back in action next Tuesday, as the winners of the four sections face off to determine a “grand” champion. The Highlanders will go into this final round having the second most power points among the four remaining state champions.