Boys swim team ousted from state tournament by Rumson


By: John E. Powers
   The Hopewell Valley Central High School boys swimming team knew it would take a spectacular effort to beat No. 3-seed and unbeaten Rumson-Fair Haven in the Central Jersey Group B quarterfinals Tuesday. So the 118-52 setback wasn’t entirely unexpected. The sixth-seeded Bulldogs, who finished the season with a 4-8-1 record, can look at the meet as a learning experience.
   "For the kids it was important to extend the season and get some extended time in the pool," Hopewell coach Laurie Gordon said. "It was good to swim against competitive swimmers. It was a good experience. They were just a much deeper team, and they knew it going in."
   Freshman Billy Dunne was the only winner for the Bulldogs, taking the 100-yard backstroke in the 1:07.50, shy of his personal best at 59.04 in yards. Dunne also placed second in the 200 freestyle and contributed legs on the second-place 200-medley relay and 400-freestyle relay teams.
   Dunne, sophomore Greg Stolowski, junior Scott Orr and sophomore Ned Foster combined to swim 2:10.13 in the 200 freestyle relay. The same foursome went 4:24.36 in the 400 freestyle.
   Foster also placed second in the 50 free (28.16) and 100 freestyle (1:00.76). Junior Ricky Fletcher was second in the 100-butterfly. Stolowski was third in the 500 freestyle (6:12.22). The boys did swim without junior Will McNees, who has qualified for the state individual tournament. Gordon said she’s not sure if the 50-freestyler will be able to compete in the individual championships because he has been sick.
   But McNees should be back next year with most of the other Bulldogs. Gordon will lose just two seniors to graduation, compared to seven last year.
   "They were the third seed, and we were the sixth seed, and there were a lot of teams," Gordon said. "We knew it was going to be tough."
   Rumson, which lost to Hopewell two years ago in the opening round, improved to 12-0 and was scheduled to swim at No. 2 seed Lawrence on Thursday.
• NOTES: The third-seeded Hopewell girls team swam against sixth-seeded Shore Regional on Wednesday in the Central Jersey Public B first round. If the Lady Bulldogs won, they would move on to face the Rumson/Red Bank winner in the sectional semifinals Friday.
   Last season the Hopewell boys team reached the Central Jersey Public B semifinals with a first-round win over West Windsor-Plainsboro North.
   The Hopewell girls, meanwhile, are the defending sectional champions, having reached the Public B semifinals in 2003.