By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP — David vs. Goliath is a story from the Bible in which Goliath, a Philistine giant, is defeated in battle by David, a young shepherd. It’s often used in sports as a way to motivate a team or player against a perceived superior opponent.
But in the world of sports, Goliath wins a whole lot more than David does.
The Egg Harbor Township boys swimming team knew it was up against a South Jersey Public A sectional Goliath in Cherry Hill East on Thursday afternoon at Gloucester County Institute of Technology, and the Eagles knew they had to swim a perfect meet to even have a chance at knocking off the Cougars. In the end, however, Cherry Hill East’s speed and depth proved to be too much for EHT, as the Cougars pulled away and won, 106-64, to capture yet another sectional title.
The Cougars didn’t even have to swim until the semifinals, receiving byes in the first two rounds, then routed Southern Regional 115-55 before taking down EHT. Cherry Hill East (13-0) has gotten past EHT five times in the state playoffs since 2012 and has scored more than 100 points in four of those five meets.
“The easy way to say it is they were an arm’s length better than us. They are an extremely talented team and we knew that going into it, but I’m really proud of how our guys swam,” said Egg Harbor Township coach Mark Jamieson. “The score doesn’t show how close it was. Their depth pulled them through. We hope to be right back here next year, they graduate 11 and we graduate 11. I’m proud of how the kids swam, that’s one of the best teams in the state and we just proved that we can swim with them in every race.”
Joey Tepper, EHT’s star senior, won a pair of events, including the 200 IM and 500 freestyle, and also teamed up with Brandon Bell, A.J. Mallari and Winchester Ployratana to capture first place in the 200-yard medley relay, and Mallari also pocketed a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke. The Eagles also finished either second or third in four other races, but Cherry Hill East’s overall depth, combined with winning seven of the 11 events, was too much to overcome.
Despite the loss, the Eagles completed perhaps their best season ever, finishing with nine wins and winning the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference for the first time in 11 years. And EHT’s girls squad, the No. 2 seed, will travel to GCIT this afternoon to take on top-seeded — you guessed it — Cherry Hill East.
“The boys realize that this is the best team we’ve ever had, so this is emotional,” Jamieson said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board next year and see what we have at the start date. We have a lot of good freshmen coming in. Right now we’re just focused on the individual states and getting our relays ready in the next two weeks for the Meet of Champions. Joey Tepper is one of the top swimmers in the state in his events, so we’d like to see him, Brandon Bell and our relays show up and perform at their top level. That’s what’s on our plate right now. (Today) we’re back here with the girls team so we’re excited about that. It will be a sad five minutes on the bus ride home, but then a lot of celebration of the good things we did this year.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays