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Swimming: Mainland Regional boys, Ocean City girls remain unbeaten with wins at rivalry meet

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher OCEAN CITY — Members of the Mainland Regional boys swimming team are awaiting Monday’s matchup with powerful St. Augustine Prep with the kind of nervous energy a 10-year-old Little Leaguer might have a few days before the opening of the new baseball season. The Mustangs know they have the best chance in years to knock off the Hermits, who annually churn through the Cape-Atlantic League without so much as breaking a sweat. But first, the Mustangs had to get past rival Ocean City on Wednesday before a matchup with another local nemesis, Egg Harbor Township, on Friday. Mainland had little trouble with host Ocean City, outscoring the Red Raiders 128-42 to improve to 8-0. The Ocean City girls also stayed unbeaten, improving to 6-0 with a 99-71 win over Mainland. The Mainland boys squad got a pair of individual wins from Brian McGroarty, in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke, and 200 medley relay winners Derek Kneisel, Erik Truong, Glen Lasco and Joey Rogers all had individual wins as well. Justin Liu, one of the most dominant swimmers in the Cape-Atlantic League so far, took home first place in the 200 IM and also was a part of the winning 200 freestyle relay. Brett Clauhs clocked in at 4:25.37 to win the 500 freestyle, and Liu, Truong and McGroarty teamed up with senior Mike Juliano to win the 400 freestyle relay in 3:46.82. “It feels good. We are rivals in every sport,” Kneisel said. “We’re just seeing where everyone is at, seeing who can swim what, so we’re mixing it around a lot so that we can put a strong lineup in for Prep on Monday.” Justin Liu and the Mainland Regional boys swimming team handled rival Ocean City on Wednesday to improve to 8-0. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Justin Liu and the Mainland Regional boys swimming team handled rival Ocean City on Wednesday to improve to 8-0. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) “Getting a win against Ocean City in any sport is awesome. They are right across the bridge, and it’s always a great rivalry,” added Juliano, who was a part of the Mainland football team that beat Ocean City in the fall. The Mustangs had high expectations coming into this season off last year’s sectional championship, but have simply been manhandling the competition so far this winter. They have scored more than 100 points in each meet, and have won each of their eight meets by 50 points or more. Kneisel said the key to Mainland’s success is swimmers’ willingness to put in the work. “Everyone is putting in the time and effort. Everyone is excited to train and wants to train, and that’s paying off,” Kneisel said. “We gained a couple of kids, but we also lost a couple from last year. Everyone from last year is faster now and we also have a lot of good young guys.” “I think part of the reason why this team is so successful is because we’re all great friends and we enjoy being around each other. That just makes everyone work that much harder as a team,” Juliano said. “We’re at the peak of our training right now, but coming into the Prep meet we’re going to take it a little bit easier so we have enough rest to swim fast. The (holiday) break wasn’t really a break for us. It was long hours of training in the pool.” Kneisel said the key right now for the Mustangs, who are coming off that intense training during the holiday break, is to get enough rest without losing focus against EHT later this week. “We had to swim fast, obviously, to win this meet, and then after (facing EHT) Friday we’re going to take it easy a little bit and rest up for the Prep meet,” Kneisel said. The Ocean City girls swept first place in all 11 events against Mainland on Wednesday, but the Mustangs still kept it close throughout much of the meet. Red Raiders head coach Steve Warrington said he was glad to see some girls step up, as the team is dealing with some illness as well as some girls who went away on vacation. “We did OK. We did what we had to do. It was tough coming off the winter break, but that’s where you separate the men from the boys, so to speak, or in this case girls from women. They did what they had to do filling in the voids because we had some girls out,” Warrington said. Ryann Styer cruised to victory in the 50 freestyle to help the Ocean City girls get past rival Mainland on Wednesday in Ocean City. Ryann Styer cruised to victory in the 50 freestyle to help the Ocean City girls get past rival Mainland on Wednesday in Ocean City. Amanda Nunan and Maggie Wallace each scored a pair of individual wins, with Nunan — a state champion freestyler — cruising to victories in the 200 and 500 freestyle events, and Wallace grabbing the top spot in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Ryann Styer clocked a 27.41 to win the 50 freestyle, and Aly Chain and Aleva Parker won the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, respectively. Wallace, Parker, Chain and Styler teamed up to win the 200 medley relay, and Julia Hanson joined Chain, Styer and Nunan to help the Red Raiders win the 200 freestyle relay. “This is my first year as head coach, so I’m still getting to know some of these girls and some of the teams we are facing, but it’s always nice to swim against the local teams because it’s a rivalry and a lot of the girls know each other. It’s a lot of fun,” Warrington said. Warrington said the Red Raiders are looking forward to a busy schedule in the next week or so, and are trying to round into form. “Next week we have a big meet against Bishop Eustace, and we have the Hackney meet (at Atlantic City) on Saturday,” Warrington said. “I think these will be nice little stepping stones to get their form.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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