The final scores were identical but just one Bridgewater-Raritan High School swim team advanced to the championship meet in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group A.
On Monday, February 13 at the Bridgewater YMCA, the Bridgewater-Raritan boys’ swim team, seeded No. 2 in the section, defeated rival Ridge High School, the third seed, 94-76, in the state semifinal meet.
Meanwhile, on the same day and site, the second-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan girls’ swim squad was defeated in the state semifinals by third-seeded Ridge, also by the final count of 94-76.
Bridgewater-Raritan had opened the start of what has been a successful season for both the boys and girls with a sweep of Ridge earlier this winter,
The victory sent Bridgewater-Raritan, which improved to 9-1, to the state sectional final where the Panther boys are expected to meet the No. 1 seed, Westfield High School, on Friday, February 17, at the Raritan Bay YMCA in Perth Amboy. The meet will start at 4 p.m.
Westfield is scheduled to swim against fifth-seeded J.P. Stevens High School in the state semifinals on Tuesday, February 14.
The Bridgewater-Raritan girls’ team ended its season with a 6-4-1 record.
In the boys’ meet, Bridgewater-Raritan trailed by six points after two events, but the Panthers cut Ridge's lead to just 32-30 after four events as part of eight consecutive event victories to clinch the meet.
This burst included four first-place finishes in this span, including two by Jaden Lee in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke. Following the four-event break, Greg Yukhvid's first-place performance in the 100-yard butterfly along with third- and fifth-place finishes by Brian Castone and Rahim Tariq, respectively, produced the go-ahead result to put the Panthers up 40-38.
Will Pestrichelli, Mason Pan, and Sam Meyer then placed second, third, and fourth in the 500-yard freestyle to increase Bridgewater-Raritan's lead to 58-52. Castone and Pestrichelli then teamed up with Jackson Parisi and Drew Rossi all finished in first place in the 200-yard free relay to then propel the Panthers to a double-digit lead it never relinquished.
After Andrew Buxbaum and Alex Yao added second- and fifth-place finishes in the 100-yard backstroke to build Bridgewater-Raritan's lead to 18 points, a 2-3-4 finish by Yukhvid, Christian Wong, and Frank Ksiazek in the 100-yard breaststroke then clinched the meet for the Panthers.
In the girls’ meet, Ridge gained a 14-point lead at the break following the fourth of 11 events then kept its lead at 46-32 after its fifth first-place finish in as many events.
Bridgewater-Raritan's Erica Maltsev then placed first in the 100-yard freestyle by a margin of just 0.53 second, while Marisol Mattia and Keeley Rushevics then finished third and fourth when the Panthers closed to within single digits.
After their clinching their first event advantage since taking the 200-yard individual medley by two points earlier in the meet, momentum then was in the Bridgewater-Rartan’s favor as Katie Pestrichelli, Dora Dvorkin, and Alex Enriquez ended in second, third, and fourth place, respectively, in the 500-yard freestyle to cut Ridge's lead to 58-52.
Pestrichelli and Maltsev along with Lea Carranza and Marisol Mattia thencrossed in first place by a comfortable margin of 2.7 seconds in the 200-yard free relay, and although Ridge ended in second and third place by a very close margin, Bridgewater-Raritan then trailed just 64-60 with three events to go.
The valiant comeback bid by Bridgewater-Raritan was then denied late by Ridge, which then closed out the meet with first-place finishes in the final three events, including a one-two finish in the 100 yard breaststroke in the second to last race to clinch the meet and a trip to the state sectional final probably against another powerful Westfield team, which is seeded No. 1. The Westfield girls take on fourth-seeded Watchung Hills Regional High School in the state semifinals on Tuesday, February 14.
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