LHS boys fall just short against South


By: Jim Green
   The Lawrence High School boys swimming team was happy just to have a chance.
   The Cardinals, who have beaten West Windsor-Plainsboro South once in coach Dean Mason’s 15-year tenure, entered the final event against the Pirates on Jan. 29 with an opportunity to win the meet. A victory would have given Lawrence the Colonial Valley Conference Colonial Division title.
   After having led for much of the meet, the Cardinals trailed by three points heading into the 400-meter freestyle relay. Therefore, they needed to take first and second in the event in order to win the meet. Not surprisingly, the deep Pirates held Lawrence off, claiming first and third in the relay to secure an 89.5-80.5 win.
   "I’m very proud of them (the Cardinals)," Mason said. "For us to be in a position to win the championship in the last relay of our last meet against West Windsor South was a great accomplishment."
   The Cardinals, who earlier this season suffered a loss to Princeton, dropped to 8-2 in the Colonial Valley Conference and finished one game behind 9-1 South. Last season, the Cardinals lost to the Pirates 104-66.
   This is a different Lawrence squad, however.
   "We power-pointed 300 points higher than our previous best this year," Mason said. "We sold ourselves out. Everyone was committed to the cause. We just came up a little short."
   The Cardinals came up short despite strong efforts from up and down their lineup.
   Lawrence opened the meet by taking first in the 200 medley relay with a team of Josh Rosenbluth, Steve Goldberg, J.P. Kelly and Eric Hoover (1:48.13). Rosenbluth (2:17.33) and Chris Thiel went 1-3 in the 200 individual medley, while Hoover (26.03) and Goldberg went 1-3 in the 50 freestyle.
   Hoover also won the 100 freestyle (57.96), where he was backed up by a third-place finish from Will Brehm. Ben Lookner and Kelly went 2-3 in the 500 freestyle, and Rosnbluth captured the 100 backstroke (1:00.93). WW-P South claimed the 200 freestyle relay.
   The Cardinals lost their grip on the lead over the final two events, as South’s Mike Carman and Dan Le went 1-2 in the 100 breaststroke, and the Pirates closed with their victory in the 400 freestyle relay.
   Mason said he entered the meet expecting a tight final score.
   "We had the meet scored close to the way it came out," Mason said of his coaching staff’s predictions. "We needed the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay.
   "Some areas we did better than we thought we would. We definitely put a scare into them (the Pirates)."
   Although the Cardinals gave it their best shot, they were still somewhat disappointed they were unable to win the Colonial Division crown.
   "We were disappointed because we wanted to win that title really bad, and we know how tough those championships are to get," Mason said. "But we knew the effort was there. That’s what it’s all about."
   The Cardinal girls, meanwhile, also fell short of their goal to win the Colonial Division title, suffering a 109-61 loss to the Pirates at LHS. It was the first defeat of the season for Lawrence, which entered the meet 9-0 in the CVC. Lawrence is 21-3 over the last two seasons, with all three losses coming to WW-P South.
   The Cardinals only placed first in the 200 freestyle relay, as the team of Casey Hooker, Julia Wrobel, Jillian Franc and Kelli Hawthorne posted a time of 2:00.11.
   "They (the Pirates) are a team that has a lot of club swimmers," Mason said. "We did OK in a couple of areas. They just have so much depth in every event. They’re a very good team."
   The Cardinals, who finished the season with a 126-35 co-ed win over Trenton on Friday, now turn their attention to the Mercer County Tournament, which will be held Thursday through Saturday at LHS.
   "The girls know West Windsor South is going to be a very tough team to beat," Mason said. "And Pennington has a good team. My goal is to get in that top three. I think we can do that."
   Last season, the Cardinal girls finished second to West Windsor-Plasinboro South. The Lawrence boys placed fourth.
   "The boys are also hoping to get in the top three," Mason said. "Princeton has a very good team, and (WW-P) South has a lot of depth."