The Lenape Regional High School District boys swimming teams opened the season this week with high expectations.
Cherokee has flirted with a sectional title the last two years - reaching the final two seasons ago and semifinals last year - and the Chiefs hope to make another run this season.
Shawnee lost some talent to graduation, but the Renegades are banking on a trio of experienced juniors to lead the way this winter.
Lenape looking to continue success
Lenape had a difficult season in 2017-18, falling out of the South Jersey League’s Pacific Division with an 0-4 record.
The Indians, however, did make a run come playoff time and managed to reach the NJSIAA South Public A semifinal round for the fifth consecutive year.
“We graduated two seniors standouts - Jacob Haines, who finished on the podium in the individual state championships and is now swimming for New York University; and Justin Parikh,” said Lenape coach Andre Lopez, who lost to eventual sectional champion Cherry Hill East last season.
Lopez feels with a solid group of nine freshman swimmers that possibly his team might be able to challenge for a title in Lenape’s new home - the Ocean Division - this season.
“We look to continue moving forward and building this program with a couple of promising freshmen, including Isaiah Poole, Austin Le, Jaedon McClendon and Michael Nasielski, who join a core of veterans to create a complete team. We are setting our sights on continuing the success we have experienced over the past several years.”
Lopez believes Lenape’s recent successes have laid a foundation for future teams.
“Our program has evolved over the years to one of the more competitive programs in South Jersey,” he said. “Our boys know how to win and do it with a class, sportsmanship and team that we pride ourselves on every day.”
Low numbers will be challenge for Seneca
Seneca is coming off the best season in school history.
The Golden Eagles broke seven school records, had a record of 6-5 and defeated Lacey Township, 88-82, in their first-ever playoff meet.
That kind of success is something to build on, however, turnout is light as there are just 10 swimmers out for the team this season.
And even more challenging for the coaching staff is that a key swimmer from last year’s historic squad has since moved.
“One of our top returning breast-stroke swimmers, Jon Brown, did not return to Seneca this year. His family moved to North Jersey so not having him is a huge loss for our team,” said Seneca coach Chrissy Gerber. “Jon has the 100 breast school record and is a member of all three school-record relay teams.”
The district teams’ home pool is at the Rowan College at Burlington County campus in Pemberton.
2018-19 SJISL Division Alignments
Cherokee, Cherry Hill East, Eastern, Haddonfield, Shawnee
Cherry Hill West, Haddon Heights, Lenape, Washington Township
Audubon/Collingswood, Bishop Eustace, Haddon Township, Seneca, Sterling
Camden Catholic, Camden County Technical School, Gateway/Woodbury, Paul VI, Timber Creek
Coach: Matt Acciani
Career Record: 57-44-1
2017-18 Record: 7-3, 2-2 SJISL Pacific Division; Lost to Egg Harbor Township, 117-53, in NJSIAA South Public A semifinals
Returning Lettermen: Kevin Foley, sr.; Matt Frascarelli, sr.; Andrew Palmer, sr.; Josh Pol, sr.; Paul Houser, ju.; Dylan Levy, ju.; Zach McCullough, ju.; Enrique Obregon, ju.; Matt Zeiler, ju.; Rocco Colangelo, so.; Luke Fanning, so.; Jake Free, so.; Daniel LaRue, so.; Samuel Schneider, so.; Dennis Sweeney, so.
Promising Newcomers: None provided.
Top Returnee: Enrique Obregon, junior. “Enrique is a tremendous all-around swimmer who is capable of winning any race on any day,” said Acciani.
Season Outlook: “Our season outlook is to push the top teams in our division and try to return to the South Jersey finals (Cherokee lost to Cherry Hill East, 112-58, in the South Public A championship two years ago),” said Acciani, who feels Cherry Hill East is the team to beat in the South Jersey League’s Pacific Division.
Season Opener: Dec. 10 vs. Washington Township
Coach: Andre Lopez
Career Record: 64-53-1
2017-18 Record: 4-5-1, 0-4 SJISL Pacific Division; Lost to Cherry Hill East, 123-47, in NJSIAA South Public A semifinals
Returning Lettermen: Brian Nasielski, sr.; Tyler Nuynh, sr.; Jason Arzillo, ju.; Bret Bonkowski, ju.; Sean Vizzard, so.
Promising Newcomers: Isaiah Poole, fr.; Austin Le, fr.; Jaedon McClendon, fr.; Michael Nasielski, fr.
Top Returnee: Brian Nasielski, senior captain. “Brian has committed to swim for Division I Lehigh University next year,” said Lopez. “He will be the fourth Division I swimmer to graduate from Lenape in the past five years. Brian will lead this young team in his final season with our program.”
Season Outlook: See “Lenape looking to continue success” above.
Season Opener: Dec. 5 vs. Washington Township
Coach: Chrissy Gerber
Career Record: 20-32
2017-18 Record: 6-5, 2-2 SJISL Atlantic Division; lost to Cedar Creek, 85-85 (based on power points), in NJSIAA South Public C quarterfinals
Returning Lettermen: George Schmidling, sr., 100 fly, 50 free; Mike Schmidling, ju., 200 free, 500 free; Matt Evans, ju., 100 back, 100 breast, 200 individual medley; Dan McGovern, ju.
Promising Newcomers: Elijah Dunn, fr.; Josh Green, fr.; Aidan Lohne, fr.; Joey Webb, fr.
Top Returnees: “Our top returning swimmers are senior George Schmidling, who was on all three relay record teams and is the current Power Point record holder,” said Gerber. “His brother, Mike Schmidling, broke the 200 and 500 free school records, and he is on the 200 and 400 free relay record teams. Matt Evans specializes in the 100 back and was also on the medley and 200 free relay record teams.”
Season Outlook: “As a team we are going to have a tough time with only 10 swimmers on the roster right now. I’m confident the boys will drop some time over the course of the season, but we will be giving up a lot of points by not being able to fill lanes,” said Gerber. “Our freshmen seem to be adjusting well and I’m hoping they can make a big impact in out lineup. They are some of the hardest-working kids and they never give up, so anything is possible.
Season Opener: Dec. 6 at Audubon/Collingswood (KROC Center, Camden)
Coach: Eric O’Neill
Career Record: 66-31-2
2017-18 Record: 8-2, 3-1 SJISL Pacific Division; third place at SJSCA Invitational; lost to Mainland, 112-58, in NJSIAA South Public B semifinals
Returning Lettermen: Sean Keevey, sr., breast; Alex Lacovara, sr., fly; Alex Mann, sr., 100 free; John Rosania, sr., 50 free; Jack Artis, ju., breast, individual medley; George Balint, ju., 200 free, 200 individual medley; Kyle Hare, ju., 200 free, 500 free; David Lucas, ju., 200 free, 500 free; Andrew Taylor, ju., fly, back; Noah Bunning, so., 500 free; Andrew Hsiao, so., breast; Sean McKenna, so., back
Promising Newcomers: Matthew Adler, fr.; Philip Balint, fr.; C.J. Keleher; Zachary Zaitz, fr.
Top Returnees: Juniors Kyle Hare, Jack Artis and Andrew Taylor. “We have a trio of juniors who competed in the state championship meet last season who will help lead our team this year,” said O’Neill. “They’re versatile and can be put in almost any event to help the team succeed. They will also have their sights on breaking more team records again this year.”
Season Outlook: “We graduated a few stud swimmers last year, but still have others returning so we will try to build back up from those losses,” said O’Neill. “Our goal is to match our record from last year and we have an enthusiastic group of seniors to help lead the way.”
Season Opener: Dec. 3, beat Washington Township, 112-58