DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP — The Lacey Township High School boys swimming team never competed in a sectional title meet prior to Wednesday night.
And Sean Cook was proud with the result.
The senior won two individual races to lead the third-seeded Lions to a 91-79 victory over top-seeded Woodstown to capture the South Jersey Group C championship.
The Lions (9-4) won their seventh straight meet. But the program’s first sectional title proved even sweeter.
“Our team has never even been past the semifinals, let alone win a sectional final” Lacey coach Brian Keelan said. “So this is historic for our team. I’m so proud of our guys. They worked hard all season.
“They’ve been truly committed all year. I couldn’t be more proud of the work they put in. They swam their tails off (Wednesday). They earned it.”
Cook won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1 minute, 2.58 seconds. The 18-year-old also won the 200 individual medley (2:05.68).
Cook, along with Lucas Whelan, Peter VanDerWerf, and Eric Burke, won the 200 medley relay (1:45.44).
VanDerWerf, Whelan, Cook and Mike Spina won the 400 relay (3:38.11).
Cook, Whelan, Spina and Burke are the senior leaders. The four have been swimming every winter since their freshman season.
“Over the last four year, we (the seniors) never expected to go as far as we thought we could,” Cook said. “But everything came together perfectly for our senior year.
Keelan said the team rallied around being the lower seed, which is a reason the Lions defeated second-seeded Barnegat 86-84 in the semifinals Monday.
“We haven’t got much credit prior to this,” Keelan said “Going into the Barnegat meet, we already beat them (92-78 on Jan. 16). We didn’t get the recognition then, and I thought we needed it.
“So it definitely added fuel to the fire.”
Spina won the 50 freestyle (23.79) and the 100 freestyle (52.81). VanDerWerf won the 100 butterfly (57.43) and the 100 backstroke (59.39).
Woodstown’s Ben Russell, Ty Walker, Ben Melle, Stephen Padlo won the 200 freestyle relay (1:38.40) to cut its deficit to 63-61.
But the Lions won the backstroke and the breaststroke to extend their lead to 83-73.
“I’m really proud of the seniors,” Cook said. “I’m proud of the younger swimmers that came on this season without any experience and helped the team.
“I’m really proud and happy. I’m really confident in the team that our seniors are leaving behind to continue the legacy on our team.”
S.J. Group C final
(3) Lacey Twp. 91,
(1) Woodstown 79
At Gloucester Tech, yards
200 Medley Relay—LT (Lucas Whelan, Sean Cook, Peter VanDerWerf, Eric Burke) 1:45.44
200 Freestyle—Whelan LT 1:55.48
200 IM—Cook LT 2:05.68
50 Freestyle—Mike Spina LT 23.79
100 Butterfly—VanDerWerf LT 57.43
100 Freestyle—Spina LT 52.81
500 Freestyle—Whelan LT 5:37.77
200 Freestyle Relay—W (Ben Russell, Ty Walker, Ben Melle, Stephen Padlo) 1:38.40
100 Backstroke— VanDerWerf LT 59.39
100 Breaststroke—Cook LT 1:02.58
400 Freestyle Relay—LT (VanDerWerf, Whelan, Cook, Spina) 3:38.11
Records— LT 9-4; W 7-3