SEWELL – It took the entire meet before South Jersey swimmers broke through and captured gold at the NJSIAA Boys Individual State Championship Meet.
After six second place finishes in the first 10 events, the Cherry Hill East 400 free relay, which came into the race seeded second behind The Pingry School, took the lead during the third leg and held on to win the race with a time of 3:07.37, a school record, Sunday afternoon at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology.
Senior Bobby Irwin led off for the Cougars, who earlier finished second in the 200 free relay, and he was followed by classmates Alex Volin, Mike Treglia, whose first 50 was where Cherry Hill East pulled ahead, and Jackson Brookover, who anchored and kept Pingry at bay.
“We raced some really talented teams today such as Pingry and Bridgewater-Raritan and they’re all really top teams, but it depends on where our mindset is and we all knew just to have that drive to go out there and swim fast,” Treglia said. “We did and we went after it.”
Jackson Brookover added: “We all knew this was our last meet swimming for East and it was like, ‘you know what, this our last swim, we’re just going to go for it, give everything we got, and give it our best’ and that’s what we did and it was great.”
For these four seniors and the entire Cherry Hill East team, the win was the perfect way to cap off a season that saw them finish with a 15-0 record and a second straight Group A state team championship.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to go out or a better group of guys to have a last race with and accomplish all the things we accomplished this season,” said Volin.
“We knew coming into this race, it was going to be extremely competitive,” Irwin said. “We just went out there and we went all out. It was our last race in high school representing East. I knew since we were freshmen, I think we have 12 seniors, this group of guys had this crazy potential. I didn’t even swim this race as a freshman, but to think our last race ever we won. I just love this team so much. I’m going to miss it a lot.”
It took a meet record to beat Gloucester Catholic’s Jake Narvid in the 500 free. Narvid finished in 4:24.95, which was right on his career best, but Piscataway senior Nathan Borges went 4:23.92, eclipsing the time of 4:24.04 set by Sean Killion of Cherry Hill East in 1986. It was the oldest record on the books. Ironically, the second oldest record was also broken Sunday. Delbarton junior Jack Alexy won the 50 free in 20.08 which beat the record of 20.27 established by Delran’s Jason Rosenbaum in 1991.
In the 100 backstroke, Narvid finished with a time of 50.07, which was his personal best, but he was second to Bridgewater Raritan’s Trent Russano who won in 49.52.
“I am definitely happy," Narvid said. "I got great times in both races, and it was a best time in the 100 back. Getting touched out in both races, that’s just something that will happen, but I can’t be mad about coming in second place twice. So, it was good."
Shawnee senior Jack Artis also put the stamp on his scholastic career with a pair of second place efforts, finishing behind the same swimmer, Pingry’s Matt Fallon, in both. Artis’ time of 1:51.50 in the 200 IM was a career best by two seconds.
“I was out ok and I was trying to hang on in the end,” Artis said of the 200 IM. “I knew I was third at the 50 and I just tried as hard as I could at the end and I ended up coming in second so I am really happy about that. In the breaststroke I was up against the New Jersey state record holder so I just tried my best to stay with him and ended up finishing second so I’m happy with that.”
The other second place finisher was Haddonfield freshman Henry McFadden who got a personal best time in the 200 free with a 1:40.78 to place second behind Borges. He also placed fourth in the 500 free.
“It was a best time and that what I was shooting for,” McFadden said of his 200 swim. “When I dove in I felt pretty smooth and then I just worked from there, and in the end, I was sprinting all out. I think on the last lap I saw a guy two lanes across from me and decided I was going to beat him and just went out there and did it.”