HC Boys Swimming Wins Sectional Title

Eric Wagner, Writer

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Beginning in November of 2016, there was one goal for the Hunterdon Central Boys Swim Team: to win a sectional final in the NJSIAA state tournament. For four straight years, the Red Devil boys had been devastated in the playoffs, whether it be in the first round, the sectional final, or any swim meet in between. But this year, that was not the case. From the first week of the season, the boys used the slogan “Shock El Estado,” which was a modification of the basketball team’s “Shock the State” slogan from the previous year. This excitement and hype helped the Red Devils, led by captains Chandler Amato and Kristof Szabo, capture a sectional title by defeating the Hillsborough Raiders 93-77.

Hunterdon Central started off the season a little rough, losing to Pingry and Bridgewater in a terrible fashion. “I was a little scared about how our season would go” said Amato. “I knew that playoffs weren’t all that far away; we needed to find our best possible lineup and start training harder as soon as possible if we wanted to get anywhere”. Despite the losses, the team kept its morale high throughout the early season and always found ways to keep things fun and exciting with their high-energy cheers and comradery.

A turning point came when the Red Devils routed Ridge High School in a mid-season swim meet that gave them momentum that would build for the rest of the season, 111-59. The boys were able to hold on to this energy and capture wins in the county tournament where many would post best times. “It was really a turning point for us” said Szabo, “I was really looking forward to getting into the playoffs.” When the state tournament bracket was released, the Red Devils were able to get the number one seed in the Public A Central Jersey Section. Other schools in this bracket included East Brunswick, Hillsborough, and Rancocas Valley. The Red Devils were able to get past East Brunswick fairly easily, winning 94-76 after a two-meet bye. This victory would take them to the sectional final, where they would face their closest competitor, the Hillsborough Raiders.

The sectional final was held in Neptune, New Jersey. The Red Devils felt confident going into this meet, but knew that it would be a close matchup. The boys started off with a bang, winning the 200 Medley relay. This would start the momentum that would last the entire meet. “I remember seeing the victory and becoming so much more excited for the events I was going to swim,” said junior Nick Sutera. The Red Devils went on to beat the Hillsborough boys in 6 out of the 11 events and were able to avoid the scoreless sixth place in 5 of the 8 individual events. “We needed something from everybody,” said Coach Mike Aversano, “Welsh and Amato were the favorites in the events they swam, but we needed as much as possible from everyone else in order to secure the win.” Sutera swam a key third place in the 50 free along with Van Orden getting second, while juniors Wagner and Raman were able to get a clutch first and second in the 100 yard Butterfly. In the 200 Freestyle, despite not getting first, the Red Devils were able to get a second, third, and fourth place finish and outscore Hillsborough again, helping to secure their lead even further. This was done by Welsh, sophomore Dixon Kahler, and senior Ryan Walsh.  “Moments like these are why we kept swimming all these years,” said senior Zach Macor. The Red Devils would go on to be beaten in the next round by the North 2 section winner, Bridgewater-Raritan, who they previously faced and lost to earlier in the season. “It feels good knowing we accomplished what we wanted,” said senior Morgan Mateus. “It was a whole team effort and I am extremely proud of the boys for what they did and how far they were able to make it despite a tough schedule,” said Aversano.

Next year, the Red Devils will lose a few key swimmers but will look to repeat a sectional final victory in 2018.

 

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HC Boys Swimming Wins Sectional Title