Deeper Loyola cruises past McDonogh, 104-71 Convincing win erases doubts for champ Dons


January 24, 1998|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After losing several top swimmers from last year's national Catholic championship team, Loyola coach Keith Schertle wasn't sure what to expect this season. Yesterday, in what shaped up as the Dons' biggest challenge of the season against McDonogh, the first-year coach found more than he bargained for.

The host Dons won nine of 12 events, thanks in large part to their newly-discovered depth, in a 105-71 win over the previously unbeaten Eagles.

"I knew we lost a lot, but last year's team was absolutely phenomenal," said Schertle. "We have a good core group of seniors, and this year's team is very solid."

Leading the way were a trio of seniors who each won two individual events in Omar Fraser (50-yard freestyle, 100 backstroke), Joe Curreri (100 freestyle, 200 individual medley) and Scott Shimkaveg (200 freestyle, 100 butterfly).

But among the biggest surprises was Loyola's sweep of the 100 freestyle, where led by Curreri, the Dons (4-0 overall and in the league) captured 13 points to give them an insurmountable lead.

"That's what I learned from this meet," said Schertle. "Joe did what he had to do, Omar did what he had to do, but the rest of the swimmers were better than I envisioned."

McDonogh coach Scott Ward said he knew his team was outclassed going in and tried some strategy aimed at keeping the Eagles in contention. Ward raced Mike Wheeler, normally a standout in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly, in the individual medley and 200 back.

A win would have been groundwork for an Eagles' upset. But despite breaking school records in each event, Wheeler still lost both.

"In order for us to be anywhere even close in this meet, I had to take some chances," Ward said. "I put Michael in some of his weaker events in hopes that he might be able to do it. I couldn't ask anything more from him, but Loyola was just better and deeper. They rose to the challenge."

Said Schertle: "If Wheeler had won those events, especially the 200 IM at the beginning of the meet, they're flying high. Luckily, it didn't happen. I give a lot of credit to Joe and Omar."

Fraser, for his part, broke a pool record in the 100 back with a time of 51.88 seconds.

"I think we swam a very good meet," Fraser said. "I didn't think we were going to win as many events as we did. We were pretty pumped up. This was our biggest challenge by far."

Pub Date: 1/24/98

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