SEWELL Several swimmers from the Shore Conference swam like champions on Saturday afternoon, even if it was only the preliminaries.
Toms River North advanced two swimmers and its 400-yard freestyle relay team heading into today’s finals at the NJSIAA Individual State Championships at Gloucester County Institute of Technology.
Swimmers who finished the preliminaries in the top eight will have an opportunity to swim in the championship heat and win a state title. Those who finished between ninth and 16th will swim in a consolation race.
In the 200-yard freestyle, Mariners junior Zach Molloy claimed a state-qualifying time of 1:41.20 to tie for second place with Gloucester Catholic’s Devin McCall. Molloy earned his second state berth with a third-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle (46.18).
“It feels good to advance to finals,” said Molloy. “I knew coming into today’s preliminaries that I would advance to tomorrow. This will be my third straight trip to the MOC, so I know how to prepare and what to expect.”
Will Molloy also performed strong for Toms River North. He placed ninth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:43.77) and fourth in the 500-yard freestyle (4:41.01). He fell one spot short for a championship heat in the 200-yard freestyle, but will advance to the finals in the 500-yard freestyle.
Ocean’s Sam Lynch came in as the second seed in the 100-yard backstroke, but swam 50.29 to place ahead of top-seeded Dylan Sali of Bridgewater-Raritan. He qualified to swim in the 200-yard individual medley but he decided to focus on one event instead.
“It has been a long season, so I feel a little tired, and I just wanted to swim the backstroke,” said Lynch. “It’s a much shorter race, and I felt like I would have a better chance to win a state title in that race.”
Central’s Evan Mahoney earned a chance to swim for two state titles. He finished the 100-yard freestyle in 46.84 for a fourth-place finish, and swam the 100-yard breaststroke in 57.75 to place third.
Freehold Township’s Ryan O’Neill had impressive swims in two different events. He swam for a fourth-place finish in the 200-freestyle (1:41.46), and placed seventh in the 500-freestyle (4:43.53) and will advance to compete in two championship heats.
Toms River South’s Jacob Limaldi finished the 200-yard individual medley in 1:57.56 and the 100-yard breaststroke in 58.27 for the ninth and fourth fastest times, respectively, of the preliminaries. Limaldi will miss the finals for the 200-yard individual medley but will look to improve upon his 13th-place finish at last season’s MOC in 100-yard breaststroke.
For the relays, Toms River North was the only team to qualify for a championship heat. The Mariners finished in 3:15.38 for a fourth-place finish.
On the girls side, Wall’s Danielle Griggs is the only Shore Conference swimmer to advance to a championship heat.
Griggs swam in the 100-yard freestyle and 50-yard freestyle, placing second and third, respectively, to earn a chance to compete for a state title. Griggs finished the 50-yard freestyle in 23.89, and finished the 100-yard freestyle in 51.71.
Griggs made the state finals in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle as a freshman last season, placing fourth in the 50-yard freestyle (24.18) and tying for sixth in the 100-yard freestyle (52.25).
St. Rose sophomore Casey Lawson swam two strong races, but fell short to advance to a championship heat. She placed 15th in the 200-yard individual medley (2:10.96), and tied for 12th in the 100 backstroke (58.79) to qualify for two consolation races.
Marlboro’s Joanna Han placed 12th in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:06.60), shaving almost two seconds off her seed time. Han also finished 13th in the 200-yard individual medley (2:10.14), to qualify for today’s consolation races in both events.