BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — Mainland Regional High School boys swimming coach Brian Booth gave a slight smile as he watched his team’s 51-meet winning streak end on the final relay against St. Augustine Prep on Friday.
The host Prep had a big lead in the race, and its outcome determined the winner of the meet and the championship of the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference.
St. Augustine, ranked fifth in The Press Elite 11, took first and third places in the 400-yard freestyle relay and defeated Mainland 89-81 at the Navone Pool. St. Augustine improved to 6-0 overall and in the American Conference and clinched its first conference title since 2015.
Mainland, top-ranked since 2016 in The Press Elite 11, powered its way to three straight undefeated state Public B championship years (2016-18, all 15-0) and won its first six meets this season.
Mainland took the American title the last three years.
Friday was the Mustangs’ first dual-meet loss since they were beaten 104-66 in a state Public B semifinal to Scotch Plains-Fanwood on Feb. 17, 2015.
“It was a good run while it lasted, the product of the kind of kids we’ve had, and still have,” Booth said. “We pride ourselves in it. We didn’t think about it too much. We never had it as a goal to keep our streak going. We just set it as a goal to always try to get better, and if you do that good things will happen.”
St. Augustine took the lead in the second half of the meet. Wil Carpenter won the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke, while Tyler Turpin captured the 100 butterfly and Dominick Sheppard was first in the 100 freestyle. Prep’s Dave Dileonardo, Shane Washart, Jack Levari and Sheppard won the 400 freestyle relay by more than five seconds.
“Winning the CAL was one of our goals, and it feels good to do it,” St. Augustine coach Jon Stinson said. “I didn’t think we had a chance to do it at the beginning of the season, but then everything seemed to come together. We had a lot of best times today, like we did against Egg Harbor Township” in an 89-81 win at home by the Prep on Tuesday.
“Mainland swam great. It was a great meet on both sides. I had this meet tied as I examined it beforehand, just like our meet with EHT. It’s amazing to have three teams that strong. It’s great to see how the CAL has stepped up over the years.”
St. Augustine had a 13-year unbeaten streak against CAL opponents broken when Mainland topped the Prep 102-68 on Jan. 11, 2016, at the Navone Pool.
“It feels amazing to be back on top,” said Turpin, a 17-year-old senior from Woodstown. “Mainland beat us every year in my first three years, so it was really good to be back on top in one of my last meets here.”
Led by Destin Lasco and Erik Truong, Mainland took first place in the first three races and led 27-19. Carpenter gave the Prep its first victory, winning the 50 freestyle in 22.42 seconds, edging Mainland’s Liam Garbutt by 0.19 seconds. Five races later, in the 100 backstroke, Carpenter’s win in 54.83 led the Hermits to a 74-66 lead.
Turpin won the 100 butterfly in 52.68, and the Prep tied the meet at 39-39 in the race. Sheppard took the 100 freestyle in 46.61 and St. Augustine was up for good at 50-44.
Lasco, The Press Boys Swimmer of the Year in his first two seasons, led Mainland to wins in the first two relays and easily won the 200 and 500 freestyle races. Truong was first in the 200 individual medley, and Cole Garbutt (Liam’s brother) won the 100 breaststroke.
At St. Augustine Prep, yards
200 Medley Relay—MR (Destin Lasco, Erik Truong, Cole Garbutt, Colin Cooke) 1:37.93; 200 Freestyle—Lasco MR 1:42.00; 200 IM—Truong MR 1:56.08; 50 Freestyle—Wil Carpenter SA 22.42; 100 Butterfly—Tyler Turpin SA 52.68; 100 Freestyle—Dominick Sheppard SA 46.61; 500 Freestyle—Lasco MR 4:34.84; 200 Freestyle Relay—MR (Liam Garbutt, Cole Garbutt, Cooke, Lasco) no time; 100 Backstroke—Carpenter SA 54.83; 100 Breaststroke—C. Garbutt MR 1:04.04; 400 Freestyle Relay—SA (Dave Deleonardo, Shane Washart, Jack Levari, Sheppard) 3:16.34.
Records—MR 6-1; SA 6-0.