DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP — The Ocean City High School boys’ swim team did something on Thursday they hadn’t done in 60 years, winning a South Jersey championship.
The Red Raiders, seeded No. 6 in The Press Elite 11, beat Moorestown 90-80 in South Jersey’s Group B Championship tie at Gloucester County Institute of Technology.
The score was tied 39-39 after the fifth run, the 100-yard butterfly, but Ocean City now led.
Ocean City junior Pat Armstrong won the 50-yard freestyle with a personal best 22.11 seconds. Gavin Neal won the 100 freestyle in 49.08. The Red Raiders won both freestyle stints and had good scoring depth in the other races.
Ocean City improved to 13-2. Moorestown, ranked No. 8 in The Elite 11, finished the season’s doubleheader 6-5.
The Red Raiders advanced to the State Group B Semifinals on Feb. 22 at Raritan Bay YMCA against an opponent TBD.
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“For me, it’s like the day I married my wife (Becca Hannings) and the day my son (Finnegan) was born,” said Ocean City manager Shane McGrath. “The boys worked so hard in the weight room and in the pool, and it showed (Thursday).
“It’s been a long time, 60 years (1962). Ocean City has been a winning program for most of those years. But to win a South Jersey title, a lot has to work in your favor. Things looked pretty even in our top bracket between us, Mainland (regional) and Moorestown.
Ocean City took first and third place in the final two stints. Armstrong, Jackson Agnellini, Neal and Nick Bianchi finished first in the 200 freestyle relay clocking 1:32.04. The Red Raiders led 80-76 heading into the final race, and Armstrong, Bianchi, Matt Woodside and Neal won the 400m freestyle relay (3:17.47) to win the competition.
“We’ve been here several times and been closed,” said Armstrong, 16, from Longport. “Now we finally have the trophy in our hands. We were very nervous and did not underestimate Moorestown.
“Our coach is extremely tactical. He had the (likely) encounter (results) in his head, and he had a plan. We followed him to victory.
Neal won the 100 freestyle in 49.08, and Ocean City won the event to move up 49-45 for good.
“It’s awesome,” said Neal, a 16-year-old junior from Absecon. “1962 was the last time we won it, and now we can put 2022 on the banner. This victory is due to the hard work of the team and the energy from the touchline.
The Quakers took first place in seven of 11 races. Luke Mumma of Moorestown won the 200 and 500 freestyle events. Alex Christou finished first in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. Jonah Luetke won the 100m butterfly and the 100m backstroke.
“I knew (Thursday) morning the team was ready to go,” McGrath said.
Contact Guy Gargan: 609-272-7210