Jackson swimmers out of the blocks quickly

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

JACKSON — Despite winning just four of 11 events, the Jackson High School girls’ swim team relied on its depth to record a dramatic 87-84 victory over visiting Manalapan last Friday night at Ocean County College.

The Lady Jaguars collected enough points by placing swimmers in the second, third and fourth positions to extend its unbeaten streak to four.

The Jackson boys’, meanwhile, improved to 3-1 overall with a 105-52 win over Manalapan.

Jackson girls’ coach Janet Carbin said she is startled by the Lady Jags’ quick start to the 2003-04 campaign.

"We won this meet on the strength of our depth, it is as simple as that," Carbin said. "We managed to get enough swimmers in the top six to make the difference. These girls have been working extremely hard. I knew we had a talented team, but I didn’t think that we would be undefeated at this point. But I believe that things can change drastically from one season to another. This team is surprising a lot of people so far this year."

Jackson posted a huge win over Toms River South earlier in the week. In fact, the Lady Jaguars manhandled TRS, winning easily, 95-75.

"I think a lot of our success has to do with all the support these kids are getting from spectators and parents," Carbin said. "It makes a huge difference when there is a crowd there rooting and clapping for you."

Carbin feels the win over Toms River South will aid the Lady Jags later in the season.

"That was a huge confidence builder," she said. "However, I don’t want us now to fall back on it. We put forth a great effort and the kids were really sharp that night. But I don’t want us sitting on that win. We need to keep moving forward."

The key to the win over Manalapan was 100-yard breaststroke. With the score tied, Jackson put winners in the first, fourth and fifth slots to build a slight lead.

Danielle Skurka won the event with a personal-best time of 1:18.97. Kristin Lapi was fourth with a personal-best time of 1:27.09, while Heather Burke was fifth in a personal best of 1:28.52.

"That was key because we only needed to go 2-3 in the closing 400 free really," Carbin said. "All three of those girls put forth great times."

Carbin split up her top 400 free relay team to have a chance at finishing in both second and third places. The gamble paid off handsomely.

"I figured we had a better chance of going 2-3 if I split up my best team," Carbin said. "We did a lot of switching around in this meet."

The team of Kathleen Brown, Lindsay Specht, Meghan Maloney and Analise Mindas placed second in the 400-free relay with a time of 4:17.02. The squad of Jen Merolla, Taylor Fogerty, Brigid Rufo and Nicole Castranova was third with a time of 4:18.

"It was an exciting finish," Carbin said. "It was a lot of fun to be a part of. We had a couple of big victories this week."

Jackson went 2-3 in the 200-medley relay. The quartet of Castranova, Skurka, Mindas and Melissa Francis finished runner-up in 2:03.10. That was the fastest time posted by that bunch this season. Kristin Matthews, Agnes Klich, Merolla and Brown were third (2:18.02).

Rufo was second in the 200 free, while Lapi was third (2:36.52).

Mindas won the 200 IM with a time of 2:31.75. Francis was third in 2:34.96. Francis also posted a personal-best time of 1:03.05 in the 100 free. Jackson went 2-3 in the 50 free. Brown was runner-up in (28.01), while Specht was third (28.04).

In the 100 fly, Skurka placed second in 1:11.59 and Rufo was third (1:14.68).

Fogerty was third in the 500 free (6:18.64) and Maloney was fourth (6:33.19).

The team of Mindas, Francis, Specht and Brown won the 200 free relay in a time of 1:53.63.

Castranova won the 100 back in 1:01.72 and was second in the 100 free (56.76). Fogerty was second (1:16.91) and Nicole Tangas was fourth in 1:24.02.

"Fogerty had never swum that event before but we needed points so she agreed to do it," Carbin said. "That is the type of team player she is. That is the kind of selfless attitude we need to continue."