The high school swimming season begins this weekend with some changes in the Cape-Atlantic League, and a new format for CAL diving.
The season’s first event is the annual Larry Blumenthal Relays at Atlantic City High School at 9 a.m. Saturday. Dual meets start next week.
The Cape-Atlantic League American Conference has eight boys teams, while the CAL National has 10. Cedar Creek joined the National Conference, and Ocean City moved to the National from the American.
The St. Francis Community Center in Long Beach Township, the home pool of Southern Regional and Barnegat, was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The boys and girls teams of both schools are both practicing on a limited basis at a smaller pool at the Ocean Club in Cedar Run in Stafford Township.
Diving will no longer be part of season dual meets in the CAL. Instead, the league’s divers will meet in five big meets called “batch meets” at various sites throughout the season. The diving scores will not be part of dual swimming meets.
Wildwood Catholic, a National Conference member, will be a coed team this year, instead of separate boys and girls teams. Coed teams have both boys and girls, and they compete in boys swimming. Sacred Heart, Lower Cape May Regional, Buena Regional and Pleasantville, all National teams, also are coed.
St. Augustine Prep, 10-2 last year, won its second straight conference title last year with an 8-0 mark. Before that, the Hermits won the CAL National Conference eight straight years. The Prep finished ranked fourth in The Press Elite 11, topped only by three northern schools, Christian Brothers Academy, Pingry School and St. Joseph Metuchen, respectively.
St. Augustine features Pat Flynn, who swims distance but also won the 200-meter individual medley last winter at the Cape-Atlantic League Individual Championships at Atlantic City High School.
The Prep has three good scorers in seniors T.J. Merighi, Sam Sheppard and Sam Newnam. Other seniors are Blake Christy, BoDean Messier, Chris Fralinger, Joe Farnoly and Bill Mayer.
Mainland Regional (13-2) beat everyone in the conference except St. Augustine last year and returns a good nucleus. The Mustangs have Steve Buzby and Chris McClintock, both Press first-team All-Stars. Nolan Coyle, Cooper Terrell, Brandon Truong and Mike Sweeney will keep Mainland a winner.
Egg Harbor Township (8-3) advanced to a South Jersey Public A semifinal last year. The Eagles have returning Press first-teamers Anthony Czar and diver Ben Balesteri. Luke Filarski is a big scorer, and Brendan Burkett, Joey Abbate and Anthony Hoang make EHT a strong team.
Atlantic City (7-4) is led by backstroker Thien Le and CAL boys diving champion Logan McHenry, both Press first-team All-Stars. Carson Rau, Jorge Azcona and Mike Toy will each win several races. Others are Rich DiCioccio and Mike Couter.
Vineland (6-5) has Johnny Malatesta, a Press first-team All-Star, plus a strong lineup that includes Mike Ruberti, Mark Novatorskiy, Eddie Parks and Tyler Warfle. Freshman Dominick Merighi is a good prospect. Others are Jacob Villafane and Sage Gomez.
Oakcrest (4-6) was better than its record, with five of its losses to Press Elite 11 teams. The Falcons are led by George Schieder, a Press first-teamer. Kyle Risley, Tyler Baldi, Louie Parks and Joey Abbott are good scorers.
Absegami (2-6) features breaststroker James Brown, a Press first-team All-Star. Others are Danny Pham and Austin Goodwin.
Millville (0-10-1) has Patrick Grone, Zarek Justis, Mark Pylypenko and Manny Melendez.
Cape May Tech (8-1) won its first National Conference crown last year, and Matt McElroy was The Press Coach of the Year. The Hawks topped defending champion Holy Spirit 107-63 early in the season. Tech lost only to Oakcrest 101-69 in the South Jersey Public B quarterfinals.
Cape May Tech returns Trevor Gehring and Ahde’ Wilson, two of last year’s leaders, plus Pete Adams, Sean Gerber, Chase Bader and Tommy Daniels. Others are Tom Doherty, Josh Greenberg and Vinny DeRitis.
Holy Spirit (7-5) has sprint freestyler James Muller to lead. Andrew Remy, Matt Stewart, Fred Bishop and Sean McGettigan also are good scorers. The Spartans’ competitive lineup also includes Jack Barrone, Daniel Miller and Harrison Gargel.
Buena Regional (5-3) had its best season ever last year and should be competitive. The Chiefs are led by senior Vlad Kozub. Buena also has Bobby Miller, Vito Carbonara, Brandon Jiannotti and Joe Medio. Leading girls swimmers are Kate Albertson, Sammi Adelman, Geena DeFoor and Victoria DeAngelo.
Middle Township (4-5-1) is led by Adam Vaul, Justin McAnulty, Rory Daly, David Cline and Jacob Jefferson. Freshman twins Tom Sykes and Zach Sykes are good prospects.
Sacred Heart (3-5-1) features six co-captains in boys Nate Jones, A.J. Langdon and Ernie Scoma and girls Tyler Aulffo, Mia Klekos and Abby Bencie. Others are Rocco Lupi, and freshmen Jana Martin and Ben Jones.
Cedar Creek (3-4) returns Curtis Librizzi, who led the Pirates to a competitive season last year. Cedar Creek’s scorers will include Nick Lenzi, Billy Librizzi (he and Curtis are part of the Librizzi quads), Ty Steele and freshman Nico Manalang.
Wildwood Catholic (2-4-1) has Jon Gery, Jake Martin, Tom DePaul and Tim Mason. Crusaders girls include Grace Lederer, Kelly Dillin-Schwartz, Mackenzie Scully, Emily Johnson and Sarah McBride.
Ocean City (2-9) will try to rebuild with Kevin Gill, Frank Brady, Zach Greaser and freshman Michael Fiscus.
Pleasantville (0-7) has returnees Christian Cruickshank and Armando Lino. Other boys are Robert Magomero, John Mena-Valdez and Luis Sanchez. The girls are Taylor Loges and freshman Celedonia Vazsquez.
Southern Regional (8-3) must rebuild but has returnees Armando Dawson, Alex Wunnenberg and Cody Dentroux. Others are Ryan McHugh, Benjamin Moran, Daniel O’Hara, Dimitri Almeyda and Jon Dunlap.
Barnegat (3-7) has most of its top scorers back, including Matt Ihnken, Grant Scull, John Wilson, Riley Francisco, Billy Breunig, Grant Scull. Kenyatta Swift and Tyler O’Grady.
Lacey Township (2-8) is led by Ben Smith, Rob Norton and Derick Zazenkowski. The Lions also have Tyler Gorda, Tomas Ragona, Luis Faragi, Mike Tortorella and Trace Dittenhoffer.
Cumberland Regional (12-3) should continue to win, with top returnees Justin Seay, Kyle Burlingame, Nick Roberts, Ryan Quick, and diver John Morris.
The new boys team head coaches are Paul Gallagher of Ocean City, Kyle Mongelluzzo of Sacred Heart and Chris Kane of Buena Regional.
Gallagher, a former swimmer at Ursinus College (Pa.), assisted for Ocean City in the 1980s, and returned to be an O.C. assistant the last five years. Gallagher is no relation to former St. Augustine Prep swimmer Paul Gallagher.
Mongelluzzo swam at Delsea Regional and Rowan University before graduating in 2011. He assisted last year for Sacred Heart.
Kane, a former club swimmer, was an assistant for two years for the Vineland girls team. He assisted for Buena last year.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Meets to watch
Saturday—Larry Blumenthal Relays at Atlantic City, 9 a.m.
Dec. 5—Mainland Regional at St. Augustine Prep, 4 p.m.
Dec. 11—Buena Regional at Cape May Tech, 4 p.m.
Dec. 13—Atlantic City at Vineland, 6 p.m.
Dec. 17—CAL diving batch meet at Mainland Regional, 4 p.m.
Dec. 20—Gloucester Catholic at Cumberland Regional, 5 p.m.
Jan. 3—Cape May Tech at Holy Spirit, 4 p.m.
Jan. 9—Lower Cape May Regional at Middle Township, 4 p.m.
Jan. 18—Oakcrest at Egg Harbor Township, 4 p.m.
Jan. 26—South Jersey Coaches Meet, 10 a.m. at Gloucester County Institute of Technology
Jan. 29—Salesianum School (Del.) at St. Augustine Prep, 4 p.m.
Swimmers to watch
Chris McClintock, Mainland Reg., Sr.
Ben Balesteri, Egg Harbor Twp., Sr.
Pat Flynn, St. Augustine Prep, Sr.
George Schieder, Oakcrest, Sr.
Thien Le, Atlantic City, Jr.
Johnny Malatesta, Vineland, Jr.
James Brown, Absegami, Sr.
Logan McHenry, Atlanitc City, Jr.
Steve Buzby, Mainland, Sr.
Anthony Czar, Egg Harbor Twp., Sr.
John Morris, Cumberland Reg., Sr.