The Ocean City High School girls swimming team faces its greatest challenge today as the Red Raiders meet Chatham High School for the state Public B championship.
The two unbeatens meet at 2 p.m. at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township.
Ocean City (14-0), which is ranked No. 1 in The Press Elite 11, will make its first state final appearance, while Chatham (15-0), of Morris County, has won the state Public B crown three straight years.
"The girls are really excited," Ocean City coach Kate Merz said. "They know there's some tough competition, and they're ready to go. They know who they're up against. They're coming in knowing they have to be ready. They want to keep making history."
Ocean City won its fourth straight Cape-Atlantic League National Conference title and The Red Raiders added their first South Jersey championship on Feb. 12, beating Haddonfield 95-75. O.C. advanced to the final with a 94-76 state semifinal victory over Princeton High School on Wednesday.
Freshman Amanda Nunan set a pool record of 4 minutes, 59.56 seconds in the 500-yard freestyle in the win over Princeton at the Neptune Aquatics Center in Neptune Township. Senior Noel Styer set the pool mark of 23.77 seconds in the 50 freestyle.
Both records were also school marks, and Styer added a school-record 52.83 in the 100 freestyle with a second-place finish. Nunan also won the 200 freestyle, while fellow freshman Aleva Parker took the 100 breaststroke.
The Red Raiders' lineup features several others, including sisters Rachel and Aly Chain, Amber Glenn, Gabby Breazeale, Erin Myers, Julie Cusack and Maddie Brady.
"It feels amazing, being on a team in the state final," said Rachel Chain, a 17-year-old senior from Seaville in Upper Township. "From my freshman year we kept growing as a team. My senior year has been unbelievable. We've accomplished so many things I could never have foreseen. I'm excited to be part of it."
Chatham is led by seniors Regan Kology and Jess Gorham, both of whom were important scorers as freshmen when the Cougars won their first Public B state title in 2011. Kology will swim for Harvard University next year. Chatham also has Shana McLaughlin, Kara Miller-Radest and Alicia Iizuka.
In consecutive state finals, Chatham beat Cherry Hill West 93-77 in 2011, topped Haddonfield 102-68 in 2012 and defeated Kinnelon 91-79 last year.
Chatham topped Summit 113-57 on Feb. 13 for the North Jersey II title, and the Cougars beat North I champion Mountain Lakes 125-45 in its state semifinal Wednesday.
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