DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP — Though the Egg Harbor Township girls swimming team left Gloucester County Institute of Technology empty-handed Thursday, it also left better than it was just hours earlier.
The second-seeded Eagles lost 111-59 to top-seeded Cherry Hill East in the South Jersey Public A final but ended up with several personal bests and a school record.
Coach Mark Jamieson was proud of his team’s performance Thursday and throughout the season.
“Out of the schedule that we swam coming out (of the regular season), with the record we did … the girls really put in a great effort throughout the whole season,” Jamieson said. “We’re looking forward to how we do at Meet of Champs and the individuals.”
EHT entered the playoffs with a team record of 4-2-1. Its regular season schedule included Mainland Regional, Moorestown and Ocean City. Moorestown topped Mainland in the Group B final right before EHT’s meet. The Eagles lost to both in January but tied Ocean City 85-85 on Dec. 17.
Cherry Hill East won its third straight sectional title. The team features senior Grace Yoon, a three-time state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke who will look to win a fourth at the Meet of Champions held Feb. 29-March 1.
“They have a really great, talented group of kids,” Jamieson said. “They have the state champion Grace Yoon, then you follow her up with Annie Behm, and you have a lot of depth around them. It just makes for a very tough team, and that’s one of the best we’ve gone against.”
For EHT, Ava McDonough set a personal record in the 100 breaststroke in 1 minute, 6.29 seconds. She finished second behind Yoon. In the same race, Denise Yushon set her best with a third-place finish in 1:08.33. Olivia Evans recorded her best 50 freestyle time of 24.56.
Junior Alexandria Cotter won the 100 butterfly (57.00), 100 backstroke (1:00.01) and helped win the 200 freestyle relay with McDonough, Evans and Yushon.
Cotter is excited for the future of a program that will be returning many of its regular winners next year.
“I think (the team) is going to be really killer next year,” said Cotter, 16, of EHT. “We have a lot of freshmen coming in, so we’re going to have a lot of depth next year and I think that’s going to be one of our main points.”
Both Cotter and senior Madison Keller will be competing for spots at Meet of Champions when preliminaries begin Feb. 29. With her final high school swim season wrapping up, she took a moment to reflect on how the team changed her life over the last four years.
“This team has just shown me so much love,” said Keller, 17, of EHT. “These girls are just really amazing and I couldn’t have asked for anything else.
“We weren’t really looking to come to win. We were looking to swim for us.”
200 medley relay — C (Annie Behm, Grace Yoon, Karolyn Merch, Briana DiSanti) 1:46.16
200 freestyle — Kylie Preihs C 1:58.89
200 IM — Yoon C 2:02.23
50 freestyle — Olivia Evans E 24.56
100 butterfly — Alexandria Cotter E 57.00
100 freestyle — Behm C 52.27
500 freestyle — Preihs C 5:14.41
200 free relay — E (Cotter, Ava McDonough, Denise Yushon, Evans) 1:38.88
100 backstroke — Cotter E 1:00.01
100 breaststroke — Yoon C 1:02.88
400 free relay — C (Merch, Megan Finnegan Ashley Ong, Yoon) 3:40.20.