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This is a huge day for the Summit Boys’ Swim Team.
On the heels of a thrilling 87-83 victory over Princeton on Tuesday and winning 9 out of 11 events at the county final, the No. 7 Hilltoppers are heading to The College of New Jersey this morning to face No. 5 Moorestown in the NJSIAA State Championship for the first time in school history. The meet is set to begin at 10:30 a.m.
“It kind of seems like a dream right about now,” first-year Head Coach Luke Piede told Patch on Friday. “I think we’re all excited to get to the meet, get in the water and get it going. Right now, the anticipation… we’re just like, ‘we want to be there, we want to be there.’”
Piede says this will be a very close meet, as both teams are evenly matched and Moorestown is armed with a few key competitors.
“[Moorestown] has a very good freshman swimmer, Alex Martin, who is by far the best freshman in the state. He’s better than most of the seniors. He’s maybe the best freshman in history,” Piede said. “He can win almost any event that he’s in and we have some really fast guys. So they probably have fewer fast swimmers, but they have a couple who are really, really good and they can swim anything. I’m not even sure what their swimmers are going to be in.”
Despite the close match-up, Piede said the Hilltoppers will have their strongest competitors in the water today, including Ryan Sebastian, Tim Kostolansky, Will Benn, Will Beckett, Kevin Fries and Luca Guadagno, among others.
Summit stands at 12-1 this season, with their only loss to Westfield in a “reasonably close meet,” Piede said, as they were missing Kostolansky that day.
Although the Hilltoppers lost to Westfield in the county final, Piede said the team won nine out of 11 events, set five county records and four school records.
“Up to the state tournament, that was a highlight of the season. We didn’t win, but it was crazy. Westfield is a very deep team. We swam insanely well. But when we would take first, second [in an event], they would take third, fourth and fifth; and in a county event, third, fourth and fifth count more than first and second,” Piede explained. “Although we swam out of our minds, we ended up losing the meet by 35 points and we couldn’t have done anything better. It was definitely a situation where we didn’t win the meet, but that was pretty incredible.”
Piede, who is rounding out his first season as the Hilltoppers’ new head coach, said the team had a chance to do some good things right from the beginning.
“I’ve just been happy that I could learn about everyone [on the team] quickly enough so we could do the things we needed to do to beat teams like Princeton,” Piede explained.
The Hilltoppers managed to win the Public B state semifinals on Feb. 19, as the team used .01 seconds to defeat Princeton, 87-83. According to The Star-Ledger, Summit was leading the meet as the 400-freestyle relay, the last event, was underway.
“A 1-3 finish from Princeton would have meant an 85-85 final score that would have resulted in power points within the meet as the tiebreaker. Princeton got the first and third it needed, but the problem for the Mercer County school was Summit finished in a tie for first, as each team's top relay finished in 3:17.39,” according to an article in The Star-Ledger. “So instead of Princeton receiving eight points for first and two for third, it was forced to split the first and second-place points, six apiece, with Summit. That gave Summit the points necessary to secure the victory.”
Piede said he’s never seen anything like it.
“We tied to win the meet and if the other kid went half a .01 faster, or we went .01 slower, we would’ve lost the meet. It really couldn’t have been closer,” Piede said. “We were going crazy.”
It’s been an exciting road for the Hilltoppers, which continues today at the Public B State Championship.
Here are the Summit swimmers who will be competing today:Name Grade Andrew Aguilera 11 Tom Anderson 12 Will Beckett 12 William Benn 12 Matt Celona 12 Jimmy Currie 12 Thomas Disibio 11 Kevin Fries 12 Peter Gangi 10 Luca Guadagno 12 Alexander Ingerman 10 Timothy Kostolansky 11 Khory Kotowski 11 Tyler MacDonald 11 Patrick Murray 10 Michael Peck 12 Matthew Richson 11 Matthew Samay 9 Ryan Sebastian 11 Matthew Stern 10 Daniel Stone 9 Andrew Thieck 11 Alexander Thomson 12 Jack Williams 9