After clinching the NJSIAA Non-Public B title last season, the Pingry School girls swimming team moves to the more competitive Non-Public A division this upcoming season. The Big Blue may have more hurdles to climb this season, but they still should be a squad to watch in the winter.
The newest member of Non-Public A, Pingry is also one of the smallest schools in terms of the student body. It has the second fewest students in the division, and Pingry coach Judy Lee believes it will be tough to overcome.
“We may not have the depth that the other teams have in terms of the second relay or girls who are swimming for fourth, fifth and sixth, but we also improved our own depth,” Lee said. “We have a lot of swimmers who can win races, but it’s what we do in the fourth, fifth, sixth places to get some other points.”
With some schools outnumbering Pingry by almost 1,000 students, Lee believes that repeating as state champions may be very difficult, considering the disparity in student population. Still, she hopes that her team will compete at the highest level.
“As a team, I’d like to contend as much as we can,” Lee said. “We can finish top three in the county and hopefully get to the finals in the state tournament again.”
Pingry may have lost graduating senior Christina Ou, but a strong senior class still remains. Hollie Hopf, Teileh Atulomah and Ingrif Shu, who placed second at last year’s Meet of Champions in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.58, should lead the Big Blue this season.
“We have a good, solid core group left,” Lee said. “Those three girls have been big point scorers not just in dual meets, but also in championship meets, for all four years.”
Pingry also boasts a potential star in the making in freshman Darlene Fung. She is a versatile swimmer who has competed at a national level at the youth level.
“She’s very solid across the board with all her strokes,” Lee said. “She’s going to help out right away.”
Another freshman, Allie Ridell, should contribute immediately, specifically in the 100 butterfly.
With all these new faces, it will be initially difficult for Lee to put the puzzle pieces together and construct a winning team. Lee expects growing pains, but a solid season is certainly attainable.
“It’s going to take a little while for me to see where the best places to put the swimmers are,” Lee said. “It’s going to be interesting to find out over the first couple of weeks.”
TEAMS TO WATCH
Hillsborough came just short of winning a state title last season, but it should be considered favorites this year in Non-Public A. The Raiders boast one of the best 1-2 punches in the state with Julieyanna Parker and Megan Bull. Parker placed first at the MOC in the 100 butterfly last season for the second year in a row while Bull won the 200 individual medley relay.
The Cougars won their first state title since 2004 last season and hope to make winning state titles a habit. Returning senior Julia Bland is a versatile swimmer and junior Kara Lydzinski is dominant in the 50 free, placing fourth at the Meet of Champions with a time of 23.86.
Coming off an appearance in the Public A championship, the Panthers look to quell their disappointment after losing to Montgomery last season. Lisa Coe is an impressive diver for the Panthers.
Staff Writer Daniel LoGiudice: firstname.lastname@example.org