Ohio Northern's LaBerge in own league for sweet finishes



March 05, 2004|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Kelsen LaBerge could write a book about patience, perseverance and the agony of defeat.

They were all a major part of her swimming life for 18 years, especially the past four years at Ohio Northern University.

LaBerge (Towson) spent four years chasing what seemed like an impossible dream of a first-place finish in an individual event.

So why would anything change in the final event in the final meet of her collegiate career?

The big breakthrough came in the most dramatic of fashions at the Ohio Athletic Conference swimming championships at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland last month.

LaBerge, 22, broke her lifelong first-place jinx by winning the 200-yard breaststroke and touched the wall in a conference- and school-record time of 2 minutes, 29.67 seconds.

"That was crazy," said LaBerge from her Towson home last weekend during spring break. "I was thinking how 2:30 would be a great time. I thought I could win but never in a time like that."

LaBerge, who never even won an individual event in junior meets, said she naturally grew frustrated over all the seconds, thirds and worse finishes in her collegiate career.

"I was known as a good morning swimmer in prelims," LaBerge said. "Then I would sit around and think too much before the finals instead of just hanging out with my friends."

While the 200 breaststroke victory provided LaBerge with the memory of a lifetime, the entire OAC championships were a personal showcase.

She turned in nine consecutive personal bests and earned All-Conference honors in six events with top three finishes.

In addition to winning the 200 breaststroke, LaBerge was second in the 100 breaststroke with a school-record 1:08.77, was third in the 200 individual medley, and swam on three third-place relay teams.

Stukes solid for Georgia

Georgia freshman guard Levi Stukes (Randallstown) has started all 25 games this season for the Southeastern Conference school, averaging 8.9 points, 1.7 assists and 2.6 rebounds. He also has 26 steals.

Stukes has averaged 29.6 minutes a game for the Bulldogs, who are 14-11 overall and 6-8 in the SEC.

Falcone finishes strong

Senior forward Marc Falcone (Liberty) had an impressive exit last Saturday for Pitt-Johnstown in his final regular-season collegiate basketball game.

Falcone scored 10 points, had six rebounds and blocked a shot as the Mountain Cats won their fifth straight (91-66 over Bloomsburg), improving their record to 19-8 and keeping their hopes alive for an NCAA Division II tournament berth.

For the season, Falcone led the team in blocked shots with 22, despite averaging only 15.3 minutes a game. He also averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Et cetera

Haverford freshman Aislinn Sowash (North Carroll) won the 55-meter hurdles in a school-record 8.34 seconds and the 55-meter dash (7.58) as the Fords captured their first-ever Centennial Conference women's indoor track and field championship. Haverford sophomore Anastasia Mukhina (Towson) anchored the winning distance medley relay (12:39.10) and had strong finishes with two other relay teams.

Mount St. Joseph graduates Adam Levine and Mike Marley are members of the Penn State Ice Lions, who have compiled a 25-7 record entering this week's American Collegiate Hockey Association's Division II championships at the Laurel Ice Gardens.

Have a Postcard? Contact Bill Free by e-mail at bfree7066@hotmail.com or by phone at 410-833-5349.

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