RANDOLPH, NJ- There was quite a buzz around the Randolph High School swim team this past season, as young newcomers combined with seasoned upperclassmen to race their way to a successful campaign.
“The boys team had an incredible season, it all started by winning our first meet vs. Mountain Lakes, which really set the tone,” said Coach Linda Poppy. “We felt we could win the Conference, and we were right as we did by going undefeated in the NJAC conference.”
In the postseason, the boys finished tied for third Place at Counties, even though they were missing two of their starters.
Sign Up for E-News
The success they had qualified them for team states as the No. 1 seed, and they proceeded to win the first State Sectional title in school history for boys swimming, in a dramatic heartstopping finish.
Senior captain Ben Lane commented, “The highlight of the season was without a doubt the thrilling sectional finals that came down to the very last relay to decide the winner.”
The girls’ team had a winning campaign, finishing with an 8-5 record in what coach Poppy referred to as a “See-saw” type of season.
The girls dropped two close meets to Kinnelon and Roxbury that could have been “W’s”, but unfortunately some important team members missed those meets.
“The girls really worked hard to overcome some key swimmers missing in the line-up early in the season, and again in the middle of the season,” said Coach Poppy. “Everyone was swimming whereever we needed them to, and although we had some ups and downs along the way, we ended the year with mostly ‘up’s’.”
The team really came together in the state team tournament, which they have qualified for every year for over a decade now.
Determined to make up for some earlier season losses, the girls focused on making some noise in the tourney, even though they were a lower seed facing a higher seeded team in Ridgewood.
“I asked everybody before the meet to swim for the seniors because it could have been our last meet,” said Senior Captain Lexi Gihorski. Every girl gave it their absolute all, I was so incredibly proud of the girls for coming together for the sake of the team.“
The girls came out strong in that meet, leading from start to finish and swimming away with a 115-55 whitewashing of Ridgewood.
Poppy is excited about the future, particularly one freshman who dominated his races this season in unprecedented fashion.
“Vinny Marciano is just an incredible athlete, look what he has accomplished in only his freshman year in HS swimming. He broke many RHS individual and relay records, and went undefeated in Conference and County swimming,” said Poppy.
"He finshed # 1 in 100 Free and #1 in 100 Back at Morris County Championships, and took Silver in the 50 free and Gold in the 100 free at Meet of Champions.“
Poppy was quick to add, “But, he is all about team, and always wants to know how he can help the team.”
Senior captain Ben Lane likes what he sees as well, stating, “The future looks promising for Randolph, I couldn't be happier with the group of boys the team will be left with. Josh Zitomer and Vinny Marciano both qualified for MOC's as freshmen and that is no small feat. If they continue to grow, I have no doubt the team will continue to be successful.”
The girls relay team of Summer Felsen, Alex Kayal, Paris Fox and Gabby Cecala, swam great in the post season, and were knocking on the door to qualify for the MOC, but they fell just short. The boys qualified three relay teams for the MOC, and every one swam in the finals.
“Being a part of the Randolph High School swim team for the past four years has meant the world to me,” Gihorski said. “The team knows how to work hard in the pool while still enjoying our time together on the pool deck. One of the coolest things is our sense of community. Both the boys and girls swim teams practice together and support each other throughout the season.”
Lane had a similar sentiment, adding, “As a member of this team for four years I have been able to witness the full spectrum, starting as a lower level swimmer and finishing off senior year as one of the faster swimmers. I can honestly say that the team doesn't discriminate the slow from the fast, everyone is included always.”
MOC Boys results:
200 Medley Relay - - 9th in State
50 Free - Vinny Marciano - # 2 in State - new team record
100 Free - Vinny Marciano # 1 in State - new team record
200 Free Relay - Top 24 in State (Henry Taibi, Chris Ross, Brian Hermes, Theo Everett)
400 Free Relay - # 14 in State - new team record