For the first time in two years, it’s Mercer County Championship week for Capital County swim teams.
The three-day event in West Windsor-Plainsboro North kicks off Thursday for the boys’ prelims and Friday for the girls’ preliminaries, both beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday’s final will start at noon.
Pennington enters as the defending boys’ champion, winning in 2020 by three points over WW-P North, 233-230, with WW-P South (183), Notre Dame (174) and Princeton (171) as the top five and the only teams to reach triple digit points. Princeton, No. 12 in the NJ.com Top 20, finished his second consecutive dual-competition run through the Colonial Valley Conference last Thursday, finishing 11-0 and racking up 100 points in 10 of 11 meetings. WW-P North were the only opponent to keep Princeton under 100, as the Tigers won that Dec. 14 duel 94-76.
The multi-team encounter is a different format than a doubles encounter, of course, but going undefeated through the CVC was a good indicator of at least one high finish. In 2020, WW-P North won all HVAC competitions and finished as the top HVAC team, behind Pennington. In 2019, Notre Dame ran the board and won the competition. In 2018, Notre Dame won the meet and nearly swept the regular season, dropping two points to WW-P North, who finished third in the Mercer meet behind the Irish and Pennington that year.
Pennington, who has finished first or second the past three years, swam a CVC team during the regular season, losing 96-73 to Hopewell Valley last Saturday. For comparison, Princeton won 109-61 over Hopewell Valley on Dec. 21.
If the Tigers can translate the CVC sweep into a county title, it would be the program’s first victory in a county meet since 2014.
There will be a new swimmer of the meet, at least on the boys’ side, with David Curtiss now at North Carolina State University after missing out on the chance to earn the third swimmer of the meet honor when the 2021 meet was lost. against the pandemic.
As for the individual event winners, Princeton junior Daniel Baytin is the only 2020 comeback on the boys’ side, having won the breaststroke.
On the girls’ side, a third multiple winner of the meet swimmer over the past decade is possible, with 2020 winner Emerson Dalton returning as a junior at Lawrence. Abbey Berloco, who swam for Princeton and then Notre Dame, won the honor three times from 2015 to 2017 after Lawrence’s Kate O’Rourke won three in a row from 2012 to 2014.
There are a few girls winning individual events from 2020, Dalton having won the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle, Pennington senior Ellie Schinsky returning as 100 freestyle champion and Hightstown senior Layne Peterson returning after winning the backstroke in 2019 and 2020. .
WW-P North is the defending girls champion, winning 235-221 over Pennington. Princeton (185), WW-P South (131), Lawrence (124) and Hun (111) were the other teams to reach the century mark in points at the 2020 encounter.
As did the Princeton men’s team, the girls, No. 7 in the NJ.com The Top 20 was also perfect in the CVC, scoring no less than 107 points in any encounter on the way to a 10-0 record. The team that went through the CVC double-meeting season undefeated finished as the league’s top team in each of the last three meetings, at WW-P North (2020, 2018) and WW-P South (2019). Hun won the 2019 competition and Pennington, who finished second in 2020, could also be in the game this year. Pennington won its only CVC meeting last Saturday against Hopewell Valley, 114-56. For comparison, Princeton won 124-46 over Hopewell Valley on Dec. 21.
If Princeton can see their double-meeting success all the way to a county title, it would be the Tigers’ first since 2016.
While Mercer County teams will have their county this week, Montgomery had its Somerset County meeting last Saturday. The Cougar boys finished third with 173 points, behind winner Bridgewater-Raritan (263) and runner-up Ridge (180). Montgomery senior Andrew Lim was the IM 200-yard champion, clocking 1:56.37. The Montgomery girls finished seventh with 80 points as Mount St. Mary took the 207-202 win over Watchung Hills. Junior Louise De Cokere finished top of the Cougars, taking third in the 50 freestyle in 24.69, less than a second behind winner Emily Thompson of Ridge (23.87) with Zoe Arakelian of Watchung Hills second (24 ,53).
With fixtures cut to affect the NJSIAA tournament power-point standings less than a week away on Monday, five boys’ teams and four girls’ teams occupy the top four spots in their sections in the NJ.com powerpoint charts.
Three of the men’s teams are in Central B, where Princeton (3,717.5) takes first place with WW-P North (3,313) second and Northern Burlington (2,143) fourth. Manasquan (2,509) is third. WW-P South (2,520) is third in Central A, ahead of Marlboro (2,394.5) and behind Hillsborough (3,663.5) and East Brunswick (3,331). Montgomery (3,715) is second in North 2, Group B, behind Chatham (3,831) and ahead of Scotch Plains-Fanwood (3,230.5).
Two of the women’s teams are in Central C, with Hopewell Valley (2,144.5) third and Robbinsville (2,029) fourth behind Rumson-Fair Haven (2,970.5) and Gov. Livingston (2,541.5). Lawrence (1,902) is third in Central B behind Manasquan (3,058) and Colts Neck (2,153.5) and ahead of Jackson Memorial (1,902). Princeton (3,621) is fourth in North 2, Group B, behind Summit (3,917), Scotch Plains-Fanwood (3,825.5) and Chatham (3,768).
Swimmers of the week
Montgomery senior Andrew Lim takes the boys’ honor for his victory in the Somerset County meet in the 200 yard IM, winning in 1:56.37 and by 2.71 seconds ahead of Bernards senior Ryan Schuller.
Hopewell Valley sophomore Amelie Bass earns the girls honor after earning a pair of individual wins over WW-P North, in the 50-yard freestyle (26.04) and 100 butterfly (1:05.62 ), and winning the 100 free yards in 56.46 against Pennington.
Top 8 times
4. WW-P North
5. WW-P South
6. Notre Dame
8. North of Burlington
4. WW-P South
8. Hopewell Valley