South Jersey Sports Report: EHT Boys Swimming Improves to 6-0 with Impressive Win
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The Mainland Regional boys swimming team has been the class of the Cape-Atlantic League the past three years, dominating the league while winning three straight state titles. At one point, the Mustangs ripped off 51 straight wins before that streak was ended last year.
It looks as though the new kid on the block looking to take the league title by the horns is Egg Harbor Township, a deep and talented team that flexed its muscles to the tune of a 118-52 victory over the Mustangs on Tuesday afternoon. The Eagles improved to 6-0, and last week they routed St. Augustine Prep — a perennial parochial power in South Jersey — 104.5-65.5.
“We’re very fortunate to have a combination of one of our deepest teams with one of our fastest teams. It’s been a fun year. Today they got the job done that they needed to do. Mainland, obviously, has been an amazing team for so long and they are still talented, so we’re happy to get a win against such a good program. We look forward to where this season can go. We feel like there is still a lot of improvement to be had, but we’re happy to see that we’ve raced well the past two weeks and have stayed healthy. We’re excited to see how far we can take this ride. It’s been a fun year on the boys side,” said EHT coach Mark Jamieson, who also coaches the Eagles’ girls team. “Now it’s kind of a check-and-balance with the kids. We have a lot of club kids who are on a different level, so we try to make the best plan individually for each kid. A big one for us will be the Coaches Invitational on Jan. 25 and follow that up with the CAL Championships. This will be the first year that it’s scored as a team event, so it will be fun to go there and see if we can compete. We know we have a lot of tough meets ahead of us.”
Star center-lane swimmer Joey Tepper led the way against the Mustangs, taking first in the 200 IM and 500-meter freestyle, and he also was on the winning 200 and 400 free relay teams. Ethan Do won the 200 free while Brandon Bell won the 100 backstroke and 100 fly, and was part of the winning 200 medley relay team along with A.J. Mallari, Winchester Ployratana and Connor Ammann. Ammann, Mallari and Tepper also teamed with Andrew Dang to win the 200 free relay.
Mainland (7-2, 5-2 CAL American) got a first-place finish from Liam Garbutt in the 50 free, and its 200 and 400 free relay teams both finished second.
Jamieson said a good mix of veteran leadership and some solid newcomers has been the key to EHT (6-0, 6-0) being the last remaining undefeated CAL team.
“It’s been a balance. We picked up some key freshmen who have filled some holes and the seniors have been doing a great job in their spots,” he said. “We’ve kind of planned for this year the past few years, knowing who is coming up. It always helps to have center-lane speed like Joey Tepper and Brandon Bell. You can chalk them up for what they are going to go, so that allows a coach to have flexibility in the lineup.”
Still, he knows that the Eagles still have a lot of work to do if they want to compete for a state championship, as well as the podium at the individual state championships.
“We’ve been humbled many times. In the past few years we’ve swam against some amazing St. Augustine Prep teams, Mainland’s (state championship-winning teams) were arguably some of the best ever in the state. We get to meet Cherry Hill East all the time. It’s exciting to get to the point where we know we’ll be in the running, but the kids understand that in order for us to go any further than where we are, we all have to drop a lot of time,” Jamieson said. “In the team playoffs we know we’re going to have some tough meets and hopefully we can prevail longer than we have before. And when we go into individual states, we’re set up to have one of the best finishes we’ve ever had. We’ve already qualified more boys than any other year in our history, so it’s exciting as a coach to see what the future holds for these guys. Seeing their work pay off is kudos to them because they are putting in a lot more work than just during the high school season. They’ve dedicated the better part of their lives to swimming and it’s starting to pay off. It’s great to have a group of guys who have the type of chemistry they do.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays