WEST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP — The Mainland Regional High School girls swim team showed plenty of fight Tuesday in the State Public B girls swimming semifinal with North Jersey Section II champion Kinnelon.
The Mustangs, seeded third, posted eight second-place and four third-place finishes. But the second-seeded Colts (13-1) had too much power and took 10 of the 11 races to win 100-70 at West Windsor-Plainsboro South High School.
“Looking at the meet, looking at the times, we peaked last week (in the South Jersey B final). Where (Kinnelon), I think, peaked today,” Mainland coach John Rakowski said. “We were 2-3 seconds off in certain races of our times last week. They were 2-3 seconds faster than what I had them scouted as.”
Mainland was competing in its first state semifinal for girls swimming.
“My girls are great,” he added. “They continue to do well and work hard. We are a team. I have a lot of respect for all my girls and I’m very proud of their accomplishment.
“In my 30 years of coaching, this is the best team I’ve ever had.”
Sydney Boswell was Mainland’s only individual winner. The senior outstretched two Kinnelon swimmers to take first in the 100-yard backstroke in 1 minute, 0.32 seconds. The 18-year old Linwood resident, who will continue her career swimming for Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, was second in the 100 butterfly (59.34) and swam the backstroke leg of Mainland’s second-place 200 medley relay.
“It felt good that I could get that win in, so that they didn’t sweep the events,” the senior captain said. “After the 100 (butter) fly, I completely missed my wall, so I definitely wasn’t going to let them take me again.”
“I’m really proud of the girls, and we had an amazing season. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”
Mainland, ranked third in the Press Elite 11, stayed within 14 points of Kinnelon until the 500 freestyle when Abby Fisher and Nicole Caci placed first and second, respectively, to give the Colts a 64-46 lead. Kinnelon extended its lead to 74-50 with a win in the 200 freestyle relay. Fisher and Meghan Thompson were double winners for the Colts, who reached their first state Public B final appearance with the victory. Fisher also touched first in the 200 freestyle (1:55.31), while Thompson took the 50-yard freestyle in 24.24 seconds and the 100 freestyle in 53.25 seconds.
“It’s a veteran group and each year we get one step further, and I think that experience level has a lot to do with it,” Kinnelon coach Brian Boardman said. “Mainland, they’re a great team, we knew they were going to be tough. They brought out the best in us, seriously, because our girls swam crazy-fast today. It was an honor swimming Mainland.”
Rylie Devine chipped in for Mainland with a second-place finish in the 200 freestyle, while Harley Illingworth was second in the 200 individual medley and Morgan Walls second in the 50 freestyle. Samantha Boswell, Sydney Boswell’s younger sister, contributed a second in the 100 freestyle and third in the 50 freestyle.
Mainland reached the semifinal by beating Haddonfield in the South Jersey Public B championship 87-83. It was the program’s and coach John Rakowski’s first sectional title.
The Mustangs should reload next season with only Sydney Boswell and fellow senior captain Michaela Tighe graduating.
“I think for these girls to come out and swim again after we already shaved and tapered, that took a lot. I’m so proud of everyone,” Walls, a 16-year old junior from Somers Point, said. “I think we’re going to be awesome next year. To only lose two seniors, it’s great. We have new freshman coming up and a couple of them I’ve heard are so good. Everyone on our team now is going to get better, so I think as long as we train as hard as we did this year, or maybe a little harder, I think we’re going to get a lot further next year.”
Contact Kelly Ashe:
200 medley relay—K (Christina Cirillo, Abby Fisher, Mackenzie Heffernan, Maria Luisi) 1:51.41; 200 freestyle—Fisher K 1:55.31; 200 IM—Cirillo K 2:11.13; 50 freestyle—Meghan Thompson K 24.24; 100 butterfly—Heffernan K 59.08; 100 freestyle—Thompson K 53.25; 500 freestyle—Fisher K 5:07.69; 200 freestyle relay—K (Lauren de Torrres, Andrea Vazquez, Fisher, Thompson) 1:40.30; 100 backstroke—Sydney Boswell MR 1:00.32; 100 breaststroke—de Torres K 1:08.99; 400 freestyle relay—K (Heffernan, Nicole Caci, Cirillo, Thompson) 3:42.47.
Records—Mainland 12-2-1, Kinnelon 13-1.