SEWELL – The record will show the Cherry Hill East boys swim team won another South Jersey Public A championship Tuesday night.
Make that a dozen straight and counting.
The Cougars, the top seed and No. 1 team in the nj.com boys swimming Top 20, defeated the No. 2 seed and the state’s sixth ranked team, Egg Harbor Township, 106-64, at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology Aquatic Center to advance to the Public A state semifinals.
For the Cougars, who improved to 13-0, it was their center lane strength and overall superior depth that proved to be too much for the Eagles, who finished their season with a 9-1 record.
East coach Joe Cucinotti says it all begins with the competition at practice.
“We’ve got 45 kids and there are only so many spots to swim,” he explained. “They have to compete with each other just to make the meet sheets and going from there the competition really gets kicked up.
“With our depth and talent, we have the confidence to move people around (at meets throughout the season) so that when we come to a meet like this we know we have the right four swimmers in a relay or right three swimmers in an event.
“They’ve got great competitors at Egg Harbor. We have had a bit of a thing with them at this meet the past couple of years, and that brings out a bigger spirit and competitor in our team. The margin of victory doesn’t really reflect the competition in the pool. A lot of those races came down to the last few strokes.”
In this meet, the Cougars’ last few strokes were just a little bit stronger, a little bit longer and just a little bit quicker than the Eagles.
After Egg Harbor Township finished one-three in the 200 medley relay to take a 10-4 lead, Cherry Hill East had Alex Volin and Ryan Cortes go one-two in the 200 free, then Nick Short and James Tao finished second and third in the 200 IM behind EHT’s Joey Tepper before East’s Mike Treglia and Bobby Irwin went one-two in the 50 free to go into the break with a 35-27 lead.
“We take it each race by each race, one race at a time,” said Treglia. “No matter what the outcome of a race is we don’t worry about it, we just keep going forward. That’s what drives this team. That’s what keeps us going. We’re not worrying about races; we’re focusing on future races because it all adds up in the end.”
After the break, Jackson Brookover and Cortes finished first and second in the 100 butterfly, Treglia and Irwin went one-three in the 100 free, and Volin, Don Schwartz and Aidan Dold went two-three-four in the 500 free behind Tepper. A one-two finish in the 200 free relay gave East a 76-48 lead.
“Everyone picked it up today and we took care of business,” Brookover said. “We had a lot of fast swims. It was a great meet overall. Egg Harbor Township had some incredible swimmers and they swam some great times too. They gave us a heck of a meet. Today we got pushed and we came forward. That’s what did it for us.”
Brookover won the 100 back with teammate Robbie Thompson finishing third. Nick Short, Nick Pezzella and Spenser DuBois went two-three-four behind EHT’s A.J. Mallari in breaststroke, then the Cougars capped the meet off by finishing one-three in the 400 free relay.
“Some teams have fast swimmers in certain age groups but when you have fast swimmers in every age group like our team, that’s why we are the team that we are,” said Brookover.
Cherry Hill East advances to the state Public A semifinals against an opponent that will be determined once the other three sectionals take place on Friday.
“As we keep going, there is going to be more and more pressure,” Treglia said. “It’s just a matter of how we deal with it.”
So far the Cougars are dealing with it just fine.
S. J. Public A Championship
Cherry Hill East 106, Egg Harbor Twp 64
200 medley relay – EHT (Brandon Bell, A.J. Mallari, Winchester Ployrantana, Joey Tepper), 1:36.46; 200 free – Alex Volin, CHE, 1:44.49; 200 IM – Joey Tepper, EHT, 1:55.56; 50 free – Mike Treglia, CHE, 21.85;100 butterfly – Jackson Brookover, CHE, 51.62; 100 free – Mike Treglia, CHE, 47.96; 500 free – Joey Tepper, EHT, 4:38.96; 200 free relay – CHE (Bobby Irwin, Nick Pizzella, Ryan Cortes, Mike Treglia), 1:28.41; 100 backstroke – Jackson Brookover, CHE, 51.90; 100 breaststroke – A.J. Mallari, EHT, 59.83; 400 free relay – Cherry Hill East (Alex Volin, Ryan Cortes, Bobby Irwin, Jackson Brookover), 3:20.28
S.J. Public B Championship
Mainland 98, Ocean City 72
200 medley relay – Mainland (Mason Bushay, Aaron Thompson, Cole Garbutt, Charlie Sher), 1:42.44; 200 free – Steve Gooden, OC, 1:43.99; 200 IM – Cole Garbutt, M, 1:56.68; 50 free – Liam Garbutt, M, 21.77; 100 butterfly – Cole Garbutt, M, 54.45; 100 free – Liam Garbutt, M, 48.14; 500 free – Steve Gooden, OC, 5:01.29; 200 free relay – Ocean City (Pat Armstrong, Gavin Neal, Ethan McCarron, Steve Gooden), 1:32.97; 100 backstroke - Matt Bushay, M, 55.69; 100 breaststroke – Aaron Thompson, M, 1:02.41; 400 free relay – Mainland (Cole Garbutt, Ryan Brown, Mason Bushay, Liam Garbutt), 3:24.43.