NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP — Coach Jon Stinson said before the South Jersey Non-Public A boys swimming final that his St. Augustine Prep team would need to be “even better than our best” to beat powerhouse Christian Brothers Academy.
Turns out, even that wasn’t enough.
Pat Flynn and T.J. Merighi each won one individual event and two relays, but second-seeded St. Augustine lost 100-70 to three-time defending state champion and No. 1 seed Christian Brothers on Tuesday night at Neptune Aquatic Center.
“We swam fast,” Stinson said. “We swam, actually, better than we did against (St. Joseph-Metuchen in the semifinals), so that’s a huge positive. (CBA was) just obviously the better team. But looking at the times and looking at how we did, I’m happy with how the guys performed. They stepped up throughout the whole meet.”
The matchup pitted the top two teams in The Press Elite 11, with CBA having topped the rankings for the entire season. CBA (12-1) has won the past three state Non-Public A titles, and St. Augustine (9-2) won three in a row before that. CBA will go for a fourth straight when it faces Seton Hall Prep on Sunday at The College of New Jersey.
“This meet basically is states because whoever would win this meet is going to be the state champion,” Flynn said.
CBA coach Vito Chiaravalloti agreed. Chiaravalloti was animated throughout the match, as were his swimmers.
“The guys know every time that we swim a St. Joe’s (Metuchen) or a St. Augustine, there’s going to be major intensity just because of the ramifications of it,” Chiaravalloti said. “All three of us are always gunning for state titles. I know today felt like a state championship, but it was not.”
The Colts took a 12-2 lead after the first event, the 200-yard medley relay, placing first and second.
Flynn then won the 200 freestyle for St. Augustine, but CBA took second, third and fourth in that event to extend the lead to 21-9.
St. Augustine never got within single digits after that, though the Hermits kept it relatively close.
Merighi won the 50 freestyle for St. Augustine. He and Flynn helped the Hermits win both the 200 freestyle relay and the 400 freestyle relay.
It wasn’t quite enough, though. In addition to winning seven of the 11 events, CBA repeatedly used its depth to pick up extra points.
“I think we expected to do a little bit better,” said St. Augustine’s Sam Newnam, who was part of the winning 400 freestyle relay. “... Some of (the races), they should have been (different) by a couple seconds, couple tenths of a second. It just went in their favor for the most part.”
Against a team widely regarded as the best in the state, though, it was a respectable showing by the Hermits.
“We come here to swim times,” Stinson said. “Sometimes the times don’t reflect the score.”
Contact Jason Mazda:
At Neptune Aquatic Center, yards
200 Medley Relay—CBA (Rob Whitacre, Dean Shafritz, Alex D’Anna, Josh Berger) 1:38.73; 200 Freestyle—Pat Flynn SA 1:45.20; 200 IM—D’Anna CBA 2:01.16; 50 Freestyle—T.J. Merighi SA 22.14; 100 Butterfly—Shafritz CBA 54.37; 100 Freestyle—Whitacre CBA 48.28; 500 Freestyle—Steven Benvenuto 4:49.49; 200 Freestyle Relay—SA (Flynn, Andrew Burr, Bryan Dougherty, Merighi) 1:30.45; 100 Backstroke—Whitacre CBA 53.66; 100 Breaststroke—D’Anna CBA 1:02.26; 400 Freestyle Relay—SA (Merighi, Dougherty, Sam Newnam, Flynn) 3:21.36.
Records—St. Augustine 9-2, CBA 12-1.