MONTGOMERY — For the Hillsborough High School boys swimming team, Saturday afternoon’s performance at the Somerset County Championships was nine years in the making.
After not winning a county title since 2005, the Raiders rode Brad Zdroik’s two individual meet records and another relay record to a 244.50 team score, 52 points clear of defending-champion Bridgewater-Raritan.
“We knew coming in that it was going to come down to one of the six teams and I told the boys like I told the girls to feed off the energy of the meet,” Hillsborough head coach Todd Sudol said. “I haven’t done it with this group yet, and I told the guys that it’s a great feeling at the end of the day, but I knew it would be tough.”
Coming into the meet, Hillsborough was one of the teams that had a real shot to win, along with Bridgewater-Raritan, Ridge, Pingry and Montgomery. But after Zdroik set a pair of records in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle – 45.48 and 1:40.89 respectively – it was apparent that Hillsborough was ahead of the curve.
Earlier in the day, the Hillsborough girls set four meet records of their own, giving the Raiders seven new meet records for the day.
“I was very happy with my swims; some were better than others, but this is good day,” Zdroik said. “It was definitely about team today; my whole reason for picking the events I did was to try and maximize points for Hillsborough and get us the win we’ve wanted for so long.”
Zdroik was also on the 200-yard freestyle relay team that finished a second and a half ahead of Pingry (1:27.29-1:28.63), setting a meet record in the process. The previous record, held by Pingry from 2012, was 1:27.47.
“This was a real team effort and they are a bunch of guys that are ready to battle for each other. I give them a lot of credit and I’m just happy for them,” Sudol said. “We would have to win the close races and we’re going to have to score three guys in the top 12 of every event and we did that and I think that made the difference for us.”
Until the final two races, Pingry held the second-place position down, but couldn’t place higher than fifth to maintain it and it fell to third place with 181 points at the end.
For the Big Blue, Sebastian Lutz led the way, winning the 200-yard medley relay (1:36.89), 50-yard freestyle (21.27) and 100-yard backstroke (52.88).
“This was a good day,” Lutz said. “Usually when we come into County meets, we are pretty much prepared to win, but today, we knew any of the top six teams could have won and Hillsborough and Bridgewater-Raritan just swam faster than we did.”
Montgomery’s Zack Warner was the meet’s third double-winner, taking first place in both the 200-yard individual medley (1:57.75) and 100-yard breaststroke (56.65), the latter of which equaled a meet record set by Nic Fink of Pingry in 2011.