Mark Novatorskiy got his first look at Meet of Champions seedings on Monday.
He’s been staring at the Vineland High School record board all season.
The Fighting Clan junior is aiming to break the program’s 100-yard freestyle mark at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology. Reaching that goal likely will entail checking off another one — making it through Saturday’s preliminaries and into Sunday’s championships.
“I think I’m going to have to make it to the finals if I’m going to beat the record,” he quipped.
He’s right. Novatorskiy’s best time of the season, a 48.11, slotted him 16th — the top 16 in each event in prelims advance, with the top eight swimming for gold.
The Vineland record, 47.19, which was set by Angel Prado in 1995, would be seeded seventh overall.
Novatorskiy’s confident though.
“I went 48.11 at the Cherokee meet (on Feb. 6), and I was unshaved and untapered and not wearing a fast suit,” said Novatorskiy, who will also compete in the 200 free (seeded 20th) and on two relays. “So I think I have a good chance at dropping a second.”
Novatorskiy isn’t the only area swimmer eying a spot in school history.
St. Augustine senior Matt Taccard has his sights trained on the Prep’s 100-yard backstroke mark, which is held by Dillon McHugh at 52.2 seconds.
Taccard’s seed time is actually better than that, 51.94, but that was during a club meet in December.
“It’d be real nice to have my name on the record board at St. Augustine leaving as a senior,” Taccard said. “And I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and that’s going to push me right until I jump in. It’s good motivation.”
Taccard is seeded ninth in both the backstroke and the 50 free (21.59), and also will swim on two Hermits relays.
“I’m hoping to make it back in the ‘A’ final (for both events),” said Taccard, who swam in the consolation final in the backstroke last year.
The 50 free is a free-for-all though, and Taccard knows it.
“You never know how you or your competitors are going to do,” he said. “After every 50, everyone is like, ‘I can’t believe that kid went that time or what not.’ This 50 has to be perfect.”
Vineland’s Eddie Parks qualified for the Meet of Champions in an area-best four events — the 50, 100 and 200 frees and the 100 butterfly.
Free to pick any two of those for competition, Parks chose the 200 and the fly. He’s seeded 15th in the 200 (1:46.05) and 20th in the butterfly (52.72).
His reasoning? Future considerations.
“You become a lot more valuable to a college coach the longer distances you do,” Parks said about selecting the 200 free.
Parks finished 10th in the state in the 50 last season and 12th in the fly. While he might not improve on those finishes this year, he’ll look to have a much better showing at GCIT.
In 2013, he expected to make ‘A’ finals in both events he swam but came up short. He knows he can’t have a poor prelims again.
“I really didn’t taper as seriously (last year),” he said. “After I won (Most Outstanding Swimmer at CALs), I let things ride out from there. I really didn’t go back up. And when I tapered down, it really didn’t have that much of an effect. This season, I didn’t taper. I didn’t rest anything for CALs. I trained right through it. So when I taper down, I’ll feel a lot better, a lot stronger.”
Delsea’s Nick Lyons got a shocking surprise when he looked at the psych sheets for the Meet of Champions Monday.
Lyons was seeded second in the 100 butterfly in 49.1. Problem was, he swam a 49.1 in the 100 freestyle.
The error was corrected soon after, and Lyons is now seeded 33rd in the 100 free. Lyons also will compete in the 100 breaststroke. He’s seeded 29th (1:01.36).
He’s the only area swimmer not on St. Augustine or Vineland that made the Meet of Champions.
St. Augustine’s Colin McHugh is the highest-seeded area swimmer in any event this season. He’s the No. 6 seed in the 100 breaststroke (58.23). He’ll also swim in the 200 individual medley, where he’s seeded 20th (1:58.88).
McHugh’s teammates John Gregroy, Zach Washart and Brendon Donnelly all will test their mettle in the 500 freestyle. Gregory (4:51.51) and Washart (4:51.74) are seeded 20th and 21st, respectively, and Donnelly is seeded 27th (4:54.27).
Prep’s Andrew Burr is seeded last in the 50 freestyle, having qualified in 22.66, just .01 of a second under the qualifying mark.
Vineland’s Johnny Malatesta is competing in the 200 IM (24th, 1:59.74) and backstroke (21st, 53.69), while Rachel Smith will swim the 50 free (40th, 25.07). She’s the lone area girl to qualify individually.
St. Augustine and the Vineland boys and girls are each sending three relays as well.