West Essex’s top swimmers competed in the Super Essex Conference Meet on Saturday, Jan. 22, at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., with the boys’ team receiving 63 points and the girls’ team receiving 48 points.
Junior swimmer James Lovey finished first in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:55.16, which meets the state cut and is an SEC meet record. Lovey trains with the Montclair YMCA Swim Team and is undoubtedly one of West Essex’s best swimmers.
West Essex coach Jake Taylor said he can, “rely on [Lovey] not only for points, but he can swim any event.”
Also competing in the SEC meet for the boys were RJ Carillo, Greg Spry, Chris Plunkett, Tim Taylor, John Alscher, John Boutillier, Gianni Grasso and Jon Martinez.
Carillo, Spry, Plunkett and Lovey placed seventh in the 200-yard freestyle relay and Carillo, Taylor, Lovey and Spry also placed seventh in the 200-yard medley relay.
For the girls team, sophomore Valerie Panza placed seventh in the 500-yard freestyle and the relay team of Panza, Ally Barth, Megan Trewhella and Sarah McGrath placed sixth in the 200-yard freestyle. Sara Jo Notte, Jaclyn Solitto, Dana Silverblatt and Samantha Hamburger also competed in the SEC meet.
Since Taylor took over the team in December of 2007, it has grown by 13 boys and 11 girls, with the team now consisting of 19 boys and 21 girls.
“He really is a great coach because he deals with such a big team and still gets the job done all by himself,” said senior swimmer Carlos Mariscal.
Some of the freshman swimmers are showing signs of becoming key components to the swim team in the future. Megan Trewhella is very strong in backstroke and finished 10th and 11th in the 200-yard freestyle and the 50-yard freestyle, respectively. Jaclyn Solitto is another strong Freshman swimmer who is strong in breaststroke and finished 14th in the 200-yard Individual Medley. John Alscher has also shown much improvement this year and is improving his 100-yard Butterfly.
With several meets still to go, many of which were postponed, Taylor hopes to finish the season strong and come back next year, “ready to win.”