It’s been 15 years since the North Rockland boys swimming and diving team defeated Tappan Zee. On Thursday afternoon, the Red Raiders did just that, capturing their first Conference IV title in six years.
They defeated Tappan Zee by the score of 96-82 at home on senior day.
“We’ve been working so hard for so many years,” Red Raiders senior Sammy Melendez said. “For 14 years, I’ve been watching my brothers (Josh and Daniel) trying to beat them. Fortunately, we’re here and my team helped me out to win.”
“It’s unexplainable,” Red Raiders senior Shane Carter said. “This season in general’s been great — individually and for the team. We’ve seen people break out and doing their best times every single meet.”
The Red Raiders (6-1) completed an undefeated record within Rockland County, getting key victories over rivals Clarkstown and Suffern. The only loss came at the hands of reigning Section 1 champion Horace Greeley.
Within the pool area is a banner from the 1998-99 season, which was the last time North Rockland won the Rockland County Championship.
“It’s a huge motivation,” Carter said. “It’s something we’ve been looking to do since the beginning of the season. Every single race, every single meet, we see ourselves getting closer to that goal.”
The showdown for the Rockland County Championship will take place on Feb. 1 at North Rockland.
“I’ve been swimming for 11 years, and it’s been a pleasure watching us swim against Tappan Zee and our rival Suffern growing up,” Devito said. “I’m happy we beat them. I know in the future at sections, we’ll do even better. We’re looking to place in the top three. That’s our goal.”
Melendez won both the 50 and 100-yard freestyle. He was also on the first-place 200 free relay team. On that relay were juniors Jake Raccioppi and T.J. Devito, along with senior Nicholas Kereselidze.
Tappan Zee (2-3) senior Tyler McCloskey and junior Liam Burke won both of their individual events.