Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 8
 
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
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BACKING TRACK: Princeton High girls’ swimming sophomore standout Victoria Cassidy churns her way to a second place finish in the 100 backstroke last Friday in the Little Tigers’ 97-73 win over Point Pleasant Beach in the Public B Central Jersey sectional semifinals. The top-seeded Little Tigers were slated to face No. 3 Ocean Township in the sectional finals on February 19.

With Cava Helping to Set the Right Tone, PHS Girls’ Swimmers Make Sectional Final

Bill Alden

Elizabeth Cava and her teammates on the Princeton High girls’ swimming team didn’t know what to expect as they faced undefeated Point Pleasant Beach last Friday in the Public B Central Jersey sectional semifinals.

“We didn’t know what the outcome was going to be so we just swam our hardest,” said Cava, a senior co-captain.

After PHS could only muster a second in the meet-opening 200 medley relay, Cava and classmate Kathleen Morrison got the Little Tigers rolling in the 200 free as Morrison placed first while Cava was a strong second.

In the next race, PHS sophomore Victoria Cassidy won the 200 individual medley with Kiersten Holswade taking third. The Little Tigers then posted a one-three finish in the 50 free with senior star Jordan Shapiro winning the race and Rachel Boyce taking third.

Top-seeded PHS never looked back as it cruised to a 97-73 win, setting up a sectional final with No. 3 Ocean Township slated for February 19.

In Cava’s view, the first two individual races made a critical difference. “Just all of us swimming really fast in the beginning set the tone for the meet,” said Cava.

“I think it was really important for the 200 free and the 200 IM to dominate and continue it from there. I think everyone worked really hard.”

The 500 free was a highlight for PHS as Morrison took first with Cava next and Little Tiger freshman star Katherine Rizk taking third.

“The 500 was really great, I was so happy after that,” said Cava. “I just wanted to get out of the pool and do the 200 free relay. It was awesome, everybody was really, really excited.”

It was exciting for Cava to team up with longtime friend Morrison for another one-two finish.

“We’ve been best friends since we have been really little,” said Cava. “We have been training together for a really long time now, we both swim for the same club team Eastern Express. We just work really hard together. We push each other really hard. It makes me want to go faster and I push her, too.”

Cava is glad that she has helped the Little Tigers push on to another sectional final.

“It feels real great just continuing on,” said Cava. “Senior year has been awesome and it’s a great way to end my final season.”

In Cava’s view, there could be some more great things ahead in her final campaign.

“Everyone is peaking right now,” asserted Cava. “I’m pretty confident of all us swimming really well. If we swim our hearts out, we can do really, really well.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand liked the way his swimmers put their heart into things in the meet.

“The team’s mindset was really good, the girls sustained themselves,” said Hand, whose team improved to 10-3 with the win.

“They took advantage of the fact that they had a really good start and they kept rolling. We know Kathleen and Elizabeth so well that we knew they would give us a good performance in the 200 free. Likewise with Victoria in the IM.”

Hand viewed the 1-2-3 sweep in the 500 free as testament to the team’s superb competitive attitude. “There are two things to take note of with that race,” said Hand.

“First, the girls have a sense of swimming the whole meet and not predicting anything which is a terrific mentality. The second thing is that we knew we were going to get a good job from Kathleen and Elizabeth who we needed it from. I think Katherine Rizk had a really hard challenge from the girl right next to her and she swam another competitive race.”

Hand has enjoyed seeing the squad rise to the challenges down the season’s homestretch.

“We have had a lot of growth as a team; the improvements we are seeing in the last few meets shows a lot of commitment,” said Hand.

“Take Carly and Amanda Blick; their improvement is rooted in the two years when we didn’t need them to score. Some kids are fast when they come in and other kids really develop over a long time. You don’t judge character by how fast they are when they start; you look at how they train, how committed they are and how they deal with the frustrations and challenges.”

PHS’ group of seniors, which includes Morrison, Cava, Shapiro, and Paige Johnson, has helped instill a special character in the team.

“They are a completely committed group,” said Hand. “They are warm-hearted and unassuming. They are confident in a good way; confident that they are always going to give their best.”

Cava, for her part, has gained a special confidence as a result of her PHS swimming experience.

“I think it has turned me into a really spirited person and a great leader,” said Cava, who is heading to Lehigh University and hopes to continue her swimming career there.

“I think it has been a really good preparation for the next part of my life.”

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