WINNERS: Coach Brian Jones (center) gathers with his Pinelands Regional boys tennis team after the Wildcats edged Toms River North to capture the Ocean County championship for the first time in program history on May 20. (Photo courtesy Brian Jones)
The Pinelands Regional boys tennis team has come close to capturing an Ocean County championship in past years. On May 20, the Wildcats finally put all the components together.
“This is the first time in team history we’ve accomplished it, so it’s huge,” said coach Brian Jones, whose squad tallied 32 points to edge Toms River North, which had won the previous three county titles. “I’m ecstatic. I said at the start of the season this was the best team we’ve had in the history of the program, and the boys came through when it counted.”
While the Mariners swept the singles titles from the Wildcats, Pinelands swept the doubles championships as North faltered at second doubles, finishing fourth.
“That was the difference,” Jones said. “We knew North would be strong at singles, that they were better. But as long as our guys made it to the finals of those matches, we knew our doubles were the best in the tournament. The question always was whether North could match us in both doubles positions. They couldn’t. Unlike a regular match, where you only need three positions to win, at the county tournament you need everybody to score points. Our guys did the job. I’m so pumped.”
At first doubles, Andrew Falduto and Daniel McCarthy scored a 6-3, 6-2 victory over North’s Akshar Patel and Ishan Shah, while John and Michael Staino rolled past Central Regional’s Dan Mariano and David Kroon, 6-0, 6-0.
At first singles, the Mariners’ Evan Liou bounced Pinelands’ Brian Delbury, 6-1, 6-3, while Vansh Kumar knocked off Ashish Gainder, 6-1, 6-0, and Aryan Kumar shut out James Cahill. Earlier in the week, North beat Pinelands, 3-2, in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals, also by way of a singles sweep.
For the Ocean County Tournament, seven points are awarded for first-place winners, while second-place finishers earn six points for their respective teams. Five points are given for third place and four points for fourth.
Following Point Pleasant Borough in third with 16 points, Central and Lacey tied for fourth with 15, Brick Memorial took sixth with 14, and Toms River East ended up seventh with 13 points. Southern Regional followed the Raiders in eighth with 12 points, grabbing five at second singles, where Paul Schriever bounced back from a semifinals loss to Gainder and won the third-place consolation match, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 6-0, against Lacey’s T.J. Cooke.
Win Conference Crown
With a bunch of big, top-three finishes, the Southern Regional girls track and field team scored enough points to snatch the Shore Conference championship on May 21.
ANOTHER BANNER: The Southern Regional girls track and field team shows off its latest items for the trophy case after winning the Shore Conference title on May 21. (Photo courtesy Southern Athletics)
The Rams received big points from senior thrower Kelly Enterline, who not only won the shot put with a top mark of 39 feet, 11½ inches, but also swiped the second spot in the discus with a throw of 122 feet, 3 inches.
Adding to Enterline’s efforts were those of seniors Megan Campanile, who won the javelin by more than 20 feet with a high mark of 134 feet, 10 inches, and Marlyse Haack, who delivered the best long jump of the day at 17 feet, 3¾ inches – a quarter-inch farther than St. John Vianney’s Alexandria Scott. The Southern 4×400-meter relay also took the first spot in 4:02.76, nearly two seconds faster than Neptune’s foursome.
Meanwhile, junior Mia Mastrogiovanni contributed second-place points when she clocked a time of 5:22.28 in the 1,600-meter run, senior Mohini Jani finished third in the high jump at 5 feet, sophomore Jordyn Hamlin placed third in the 100-meter dash in 12.82 seconds, and sophomore Grace Fessler added fifth-place points with a time of 1:08.42 in the 400-meter hurdles.
Capture Individual Titles
While the Southern boys and Barnegat girls track and field squads had much less of an impact on the team standings for last week’s Shore Conference meet, Fabian Gonzalez and Valencia Gosser each snagged individual titles.
Southern’s Gonzalez fired the discus 189 feet, 9 inches to smash the previous meet record of 178 feet, 3 inches while setting a personal best, and added a third-place finish in the shot put with a high mark of 54 feet, 8½ inches. Barnegat’s Gosser, returning from a hamstring injury, blazed to a time of 12.64 seconds to win the 100-meter dash.
Also for the Barnegat girls, senior Robbiann Erskine placed fifth in the discus with a top throw of 112 feet, 6 inches, while Pinelands Regional senior Caitlyn Rodrigues followed in sixth with a top mark of 111 feet, 5 inches.
Keeps on Going
The Southern Regional softball team last week kept its season alive by advancing through the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV tournament as well as the second round of the Shore Conference Tournament.
In the state sectional on May 20, the sixth-seeded Rams (17-6) knocked off third-seeded Lenape, 2-1, thanks to a two-run home run by senior Sarah Lally in the first inning, followed by the pitching prowess of senior Elizabeth Gosse, who allowed just three hits and a second-inning run to the Indians. Lally finished 2-for-3; the only other Southern hits belonged to Gosse and Emily Evans.
Three days earlier, Southern bounced 11th-seeded Washington Township, 5-3. The Rams scored three runs in the first and two in the fourth to seal the victory, as Gosse scattered nine hits, walked one and struck out five while allowing just one earned run. Madison Groschel-Klein and Gosse each went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Kylie Roberts went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a triple, and Kayla Riley and Makayla Alessi each finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.
The Rams were slated to take on second-seeded Kingsway, which defeated Southern early in the regular season, Tuesday, May 24 in the semifinals, with the winner to meet either top-seeded Egg Harbor or fourth-seeded Gloucester Tech on Friday, May 27 in the final.
Meanwhile, in the conference tourney, Southern earned a trip to the quarterfinals, where it was slated to meet fourth-seeded St. John Vianney on Wednesday, May 25, following a 1-0 victory over 12th-seeded Toms River East on May 19. Gosse tossed a two-hitter while walking none and striking out four, and the Rams’ only run scored on an error, as Roberts managed two hits and Gosse had the only other hit for Southern.
Softball Teams Ousted
In a busy week of state tournament action, both the Barnegat and Pinelands softball teams were bumped from their respective state sectionals, but the Bengals managed to win their first-round contest before being defeated by the top seed in South Jersey Group II.
On May 17, the eighth-seeded Bengals (10-11) scored a 7-1 victory over ninth-seeded Collingswood, as sophomore pitcher Jamison Hogan tossed a four-hitter with six strikeouts. Barnegat scored three runs during its first two at-bats, then added a run in the fourth and three more in the fifth to seal the victory.
Hogan went 2-for-3 at the plate, whacking a triple along the way, while Gabriella Giaconia slugged a two-run triple, and Charlotte Loutas and Danielle Huetteman each swatted hits and drove in runs.
Unfortunately, the state tourney road ended in the quarterfinals on May 20, when Cedar Creek sent Barnegat home with a 6-1 loss. A.J. Kappmeier had a hit and drove in the Bengals’ only run in the sixth inning. Krystina Lynch, Julianna Cannizzaro, Michelle Watts and Huetteman each swatted a hit.
In the first round of South Jersey Group III on May 17, ninth-seeded Mainland scored four runs in the top of the sixth to break open a one-run game and knocked out eighth-seeded Pinelands, 5-1. The Wildcats (10-12) scored their only run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI by Elianna Meola, who went 2-for-3 with a double. Pinelands’ only other hits came from Kayla Weber and Arianna Loftus.
Southern Tennis Squad
Falls in State Tourney
The Southern Regional boys tennis team put up a fight in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV tournament, but the ninth-seeded Rams were upended by eighth-seeded Williamstown, 3-2, on May 23.
Coming off his third-place finish in the county tournament, Paul Schriever scored a 6-1, 6-3 victory at second singles, while the second doubles tandem of Maria Addiego and Rohil Ghandi managed a 6-4, 6-3 win to help keep the match close. Unfortunately, first singles player Sean Kahl, third singles player Jon Beck and the first doubles crew of Connor Addiego and Frank Staerk each lost in two sets.
Goes Out in First
The Pinelands Regional boys volleyball team had its season ended on May 23, after the 18th-seeded Wildcats lost a 25-21, 25-19 contest to 15th-seeded Hammonton in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey tournament.
Matt Davis managed seven kills and a pair of blocks for Pinelands (9-10), while Ethan Woods delivered six kills, eight digs and a block, and Brogan Duelly scored on four kills and had seven digs. Ryan McCorry also mustered eight digs, and Nick Daleo had a block and three digs. Connor Johnston contributed five digs as well.
— David Biggy