With one event to go, the swimming meet was there for the taking for Calvert Hall.
The Cardinals needed a one-two finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay for a one-point victory over its longtime rival, Loyola. They fell short, claiming only second and third.
As a result, Loyola upset defending MSA champion Calvert Hall, 98-87, yesterday before 300 screaming fans at the Dons' pool.
The meet had several turning points, the last when Loyola swept the first three places in the next-to-last event, the 100 breaststroke, for a 90-81 lead. The key to the sweep was Jason Roberts, who hadn't been in the water for five weeks because of a bad shoulder.
"We heard from the other swimmers that Jason was going to try to swim through the pain," Loyola coach Murray Stephens said. "But we didn't know for sure he would swim until he showed up 30 minutes before the meet."
Roberts also swam the anchor leg on Loyola's 200 freestyle relay that finished second. That, too, Stephens said, was a big swim.
Whether Roberts will be available for the rematch Feb. 12 at Calvert Hall is uncertain. The doctors believe he has a growth or deposit in his shoulder, and he is scheduled for exploratory surgery next Friday.
The other key for the Dons was Eric Knauff, who produced three personal best times, with a second in the 200 individual medley, a third in the 100 breaststroke and a strong leadoff leg in the 200 freestyle relay.
The meet was close from start to finish. Loyola took a commanding 16-point lead after three events, only to have Calvert Hall sweep the 50 freestyle and creep within a point three events later.
Calvert Hall led only once, 78-77 after the 100 backstroke, the 10th of 12 events. The defeat was the Cardinals' first of the season, while Loyola raised its record to 6-0.
"They just outswam us," Calvert Hall coach Reds Hucht said. "Our guys were fading in the last 25 yards because they haven't been swimming hard in practice. They were complacent after winning both dual meets against Loyola last year. I hope they'll wake up for the rematch in our pool."