Tensions were high on the pool deck midway through Delbarton’s NJSIAA Non-Public B opening-round swim meet against Pope John on Friday afternoon. The score had shifted back and forth, two points separating the teams through three consecutive events.
Then junior Alex Zhang hit the wall, followed in quick succession by senior Clark LaRaia and sophomore Joe O’Reilly. The Green Wave swept the 100-meter freestyle, and went on to defeat Pope John, 96-74. It was the third straight year these teams have met in the NJSIAA Tournament, with Delbarton winning each time.
“It has become a little bit of a routine,” said Zhang, a Whippany resident who also won the backstroke.
“We come here and usually win, so that’s good. We keep the same people in the same events. We’ve optimized our team, so it allows everyone to utilize their strengths.”
Freshman Peter Shepanzyk led Delbarton’s 1-2-3 sweep in the breaststroke, followed by Tom Saitta and Aidan Duffy, a 13-3 point discrepancy which officially locked up the victory. Green Wave coach John Romagna didn’t tinker with his lineup, and insisted the sweeps were “totally unexpected” not any sort of plan.
Delbarton opened with a victory in the medley relay, then Mike Tortorella and O’Reilly went second and third behind Pope John freshman Nick Lehman in the 200 free for a four-point lead. Lions sophomore Jarrod Schwesinger won the IM, but Jade Rice and Shepanzyk were once again second and third, maintaining a two-point lead.
Senior Ryan Balemian’s win in the 50 free put Pope John up by two points at the break. But Rice, a Green Wave sophomore, touched out Schwesinger to win the butterfly and give his team the lead back — one it would not relinquish.
Delbarton will visit top-seeded Pingry in the state semifinal next week.
“It went great,” Shepanzyk said. “We have to keep doing our best, and see if we can maybe make it past Pingry.”
NJSIAA Non-Public B
Delbarton 96, Pope John 74
Medley relay: Delbarton (Alex Zhang, Peter Shepanzyk, Jade Rice, Clark LaRaia) 2:00.73; 200 freestyle: Nick Lehman (PJ) 2:06.45; 200 IM: Jarron Schwesinger (PJ) 2:20.49; 50 freestyle: Ryan Balemian (PJ) 26.87; 100 butterfly: Rice (D) 1:03.64; 100 freestyle: Zhang (D) 57.92; 400 freestyle: Lehman (PJ) 4:23.98; 200 free relay: Pope John (Balemain, Greg Turiansky, Schwesinger, Lehman) 1:50.4; 100 backstroke: Zhang (D) 1:04.95; 100 breaststroke: Shepanzyk (D) 1:13.27; 400 free relay: Delbarton (LaRaia, Mike Tortorella, Joe O’Reilly, Zhang) 4:11.17.
Site of meet: Morristown-Beard. Distances in meters.
Team records: Delbarton 8-1, Pope John 6-3.