After losing a total of 10 seniors to graduation, it would have been easy for Shepard girls’ swim coach Barb Larson to accept the fact that the 2013 season would be strictly a rebuilding one.
However, a 7-2 dual-meet record from a Lady Astros squad with just two seniors is giving Larson hope for more than just the future. Shepard won both of its encounters last week, defeating Thornton Fractional co-op (67-27) and Oak Forest (103-82) in a pair of South Suburban Conference crossovers on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
“We have some pretty solid young girls,” Larson said. “We have a good bunch this year. We lost many seniors from last year’s team, but this young group is very talented and hard working. We have very versatile swimmers [and] I’m happy with them.
“It’s been the whole combination of them working together. I had a talk with my juniors and told them that they were going to take leadership roles because we don’t have any seniors to fall back on, as we did last season. The juniors are stepping it up on that.”
Against Thornton Fractional co-op, sophomore Grace Spindler prevailed in the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 19.65 seconds) and 500-free (6:19.88) for visiting Shepard. Spindler notched a victory in the 50-free versus Oak Forest.
“Grace swam varsity as a freshman, and she’s doing even better this season,” Larson said. “She also competes in the 100-fly. Though she doesn’t like it, she still does it pretty well.”
Junior Joanna Rangel notched a pair of triumphs against the Lady Bengals, doing so in the 100-breaststroke (1:22.50) and 200-individual medley (2:35.32). Also scoring victories for the Lady Astros were freshman Annie Rangel (100-butterfly) and junior Mary Lippert (100-free).
Shepard figures to get tested this coming weekend at the nine-school Tinley Park Invitational, which will include teams such as Richards, Oak Lawn, Kankakee, Joliet co-op and Argo in the field.
“Tinley Park will be a good test and give the girls some competitive exposure,” Larson said. “We’ll be missing Grace [because of a leadership commitment], so that will hurt.”
As for the Lady Astros’ chances of competing for a conference title, Larson said it all hinges on the girls’ continued level of dedication.
“I think they’re looking strong right now,” she said. “We’re still getting in shape to the place that they need to be. They have a shot at conference, [but] it’s really going to depend on who wants it the worst. When you get down to it, that’s what it is.”
Larson said one benefit for Shepard is that two swimmers, Rangel and Marley Weist, came to the varsity squad with previous swimming experience. Larson said Weist has been good in the backstroke, where she has secured some third- and fourth-place finishes.
“All the girls have a good attitude,” Larson said. “They’re taking cues and are very receptive to learning. They’re working hard, getting their morning practices in and keeping good attitudes. We’re working on their mental training — that’s something we’re really focusing on right now.”
Sandburg began last week with a 94-87 SWSC Blue victory over Stagg on Thursday. The Lady Eagles concluded the week with a fourth-place finish at the St. Charles North Invitational on Saturday, while Sandburg divers took fifth at the Hinsdale Central Diving Invitational that same day.
Clare Lawlor was a prominent figure for the Lady Eagles as she chalked up wins in the 200 IM (2:17.29) and 500-free (5:18.97) versus Stagg, then captured the 100-free (53.74) at St. Charles. Sandburg totaled 216 points at the invitational.
Sophia Shalabi was a bright spot for Stagg in its loss to Sandburg, as she garnered a pair of event victories. Shalabi touched out first in the 50-free (25.80) and then did the same in the 100-breaststroke (1:07.62).
At Saturday’s Andrew Invitational, Adrienne DiFoggio helped the Lady Chargers notch wins in four events. As a solo swimmer, DiFoggio set the pace in both the 200-free (2:00.4) and 500-free (5:20.70).
Then as part of two Stagg relay teams, DiFoggio led the Lady Chargers to two more triumphs. Stagg prevailed in the 200-free (1:42.84) and 200-medley (1:55.28) races.
On the strength of those showings, the Lady Chargers took second overall in a 13-school field with 246 team points.
Stagg advanced to the Marist Sectional in Homer Glen by finishing third among 15 teams with a score of 332 at last Tuesday’s Class 3A Brother Rice Regional at Silver Lake Country Club.
Dean Abate shone for the Chargers by shooting a 75 over 18 holes. Joe Zaremba finished with an 82, Brendan Kiblehan carded an 84 and Trace Moustakas fired an 89.
“We have some momentum going for us,” Stagg coach David Podkul said. “We received solid scores from everyone on the team. They’re all playing well and we’re extremely happy to advance to the sectional. This really feels good.”
The feelings weren’t quite so elated this past Monday, however, as the Chargers placed 11th in a 12-team field at the Marist Sectional. Stagg shot a cumulative 362.
At last Tuesday’s Class 3A Lemont Regional, Sandburg finished fifth with a score of 317, which was just five shots behind fourth-place Lemont and 18 off the pace set by champion Providence Catholic.
Sectional qualifiers for the Eagles included Michael Mishek (76), John Calzaretta (80) and Ronny Drabek (80). None of the three, however, was able to advance out of this past Monday’s Pekin Sectional.
Chicago Christian’s Blaine Wright was the individual runner-up with a score of 76 at last Tuesday’s Class 2A Oak Forest Regional. He finished just one stroke in arrears of meet medalist Dave Karwoski, who played for the host Bengals.
Wright’s teammate, Jay Timmer, contributed a round of 79, which helped the Knights take second as a team with an overall score of 339. And it was Timmer heading to state out of this past Monday’s Nazareth Academy Sectional, where he carded an 83 to move on as an individual.
Chicago Christian was eighth in the sectional team standings.
Also included among the individual state qualifiers was St. Laurence’s Jordan Velez, who fired a 77.
Despite having no seniors in its lineup, Sandburg was the team no one could beat at last Wednesday’s Class AA Marist Regional.
Leading the way for the Lady Eagles at Green Garden in Frankfort was junior Frankie Saban, whose 8-over-par 80 tied her for the runner-spot spot among individual golfers. Highlighting her round was an eagle on the par-5 third hole of the Blue course.
Also contributing to Sandburg’s 344 score and its first regional championship since 2002 was sophomore Emily Cosler, who fired an 81 and placed fourth overall. Completing the Lady Eagles’ scoring were Emilyee McGiles (88) and Erin Cronin (95).
Sandburg’s season didn’t end at this past Monday’s Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional, either; in fact, Saban earned medalist honors with her 18-hole score of 69 at Coyote Run. And Saban won’t be alone this weekend in Decatur, as the Lady Eagles will make the trip to state as a squad after placing third in the sectional.
McGiles shot an 81 in support of Saban, while Alex Kappel (87) and Cosler (92) rounded out Sandburg’s scoring.
Stagg tied Homewood-Flossmoor with 405 points at last Wednesday’s Marist Regional. Lady Chargers golfers Natalie Collina (83) and Jena Pietrowski (98) qualified for this past Monday’s H-F Sectional as individuals, but did not advance to state.
One athlete who did was Marist’s Ashley Kay, who carded an 83 at Coyote Run.
GIRLS’ CROSS COUNTRY
Shepard finished second with 51 points at Saturday’s De La Salle Invitational. The Lady Astros’ Alondra Delfin took fourth individually by clocking a 20:27 for three miles.
Casey Jensen (19:21.70) was seventh in the 3.1-mile race as Sandburg (109 points) placed fourth in the 13-school West Aurora Invitational on Saturday. Meghan Mokate was the Lady Eagles’ next-best finisher as she reached the chute in 19:41.60, which netted her the No. 15 position.
Stagg dropped a 2-1 SWSC Blue decision to Lockport last Thursday after getting outscored 3-0 in a shootout. However, the Chargers bounced back on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Sandburg.
Stagg scored first in the match against the Porters, doing so with 31:04 left after a corner kick. Beto Torres’ crossing pass found Phil Kolesinski at the far post and the latter headed the ball across the box to Alfonso Avila, who found the net.
Matt Kois scored the Chargers’ goal on Saturday, while keeper Erick Estrada recorded the shutout.
Shepard went 1-2 last week, as it fell short of both Marist (4-1) and Tinley Park (1-0) while routing Oak Forest (7-0) on Tuesday.
Ivan Magana was the Astros’ ringleader versus the Bengals, as he notched a hat trick and also dished out assists on two of the other goals. Colm McGee provided Shepard with its lone goal against the RedHawks.
Chicago Christian improved to 9-7-3 overall and 4-3 in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold with a 2-1 victory over Wheaton-St. Francis last Tuesday.
Getenet Timmermans scored his school-record 89th career goal for the Knights, while his brother, Fecadu, accounted for the team’s other marker. Getenet Timmermans earned an assist on the latter play.
Behind a goal by Tom Nie and Alan Garcia’s sharp netminding, Sandburg (11-5, 3-2) recorded a 1-0 SWSC Blue victory over Bolingbrook on Saturday.
A fourth-place team showing at Saturday’s SWSC Blue meet was adequate, but the real highlight of Stagg’s appearance was the individual title garnered by No. 1 singles player Nicole Pamphilis. Pamphilis defeated Homewood-Flossmoor’s Allison Lessner 6-2, 6-1 in the championship match.
Behind Pamphilis, the Lady Chargers chalked up a total of 21 points.
Prior to the conference clash, Stagg beat Tinley Park (4-1) on Monday and Lincoln-Way Central (3-2) on Tuesday. Pamphilis triumphed at No. 1 singles on both days, while Jillian Atkenson did likewise at second-singles.
Caroline Kruszewski gave Sandburg (25 points) a win at No. 3 singles on Saturday and helped the Lady Eagles finish second, while first- and second-singles players Molly Traverso and Natalie Schultz keyed an SWSC Blue victory over Lockport last Monday.
Aurora Central Catholic edged Chicago Christian 3-2 last Tuesday despite a winning performance from the Lady Knights’ No. 3 doubles tandem of Jill Dowdy-Bre Vollan.
Shepard took third at Saturday’s South Suburban Conference Red meet with 16 points, one more than fourth-place Richards and just six behind champion Reavis.
Taylor and Kelsey Domina captured a victory for the Lady Astros at No. 2 doubles.