Loyola in deep with talent

McDonogh boys, girls also carry powerful cast

Swimming

Swimming & Track

December 03, 2004|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Loyola swimming coach Keith Schertle doesn't try to dance around the truth when asked how good his team will be this winter.

"This is probably the most talented team I've had," Schertle said.

Schertle knows talent because he has had plenty of it with Loyola.

The Dons have a good shot at winning their 11th straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship.

Loyola is loaded with experienced seniors who've competed in many tough meets, but Schertle likes the fact that they're not breezing through practices.

"We're a very senior-laden team ... and they have work to do," Schertle said. "I'm pleased with what I've seen so far, but they have to keep going."

Seniors Nick Taylor (50, 100 freestyle), Shane Kelsey (200, 500 freestyle), Chris Happel (100 butterfly), Tom Bartman (100 butterfly and relays) plus Nick Conley (freestyle and relays) give the Dons plenty of experience and depth. Sophomore Jon Brady (100 breaststroke) also should score points.

McDonogh finished second in the MIAA last year, and coach Scott Ward knows how good Loyola should be this season.

"This is probably their most powerful group," Ward said.

But the Eagles have plenty of talent on their own. Senior All-American Drew Pallace (100 butterfly/100 backstroke) should anchor the Eagles, who'll get help from juniors Adam Bulkley (100 butterfly/200 IM) and Jordan Kobb (sprints) along with senior captain Matt Newton (distance).

"We're still pretty strong," Ward said. "We're not as strong as last year, but we do have a good core back."

The McDonogh girls are probably stronger than the boys as they'll try to repeat as Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland champions.

Co-coaches Ward and Cyndy Lopata have a team with a solid base, led by junior All-Americans Anne Marie Botek (100 butterfly/100 backstroke) and Kelly Peloquin (100 breaststroke, 200 IM) plus senior All-American Claire Hutchinson. All three swimmers won two events at last year's IAAM championship meet.

Notre Dame Prep finished second last year, but graduation and injuries have hurt the team in the early days of this season.

Shoulder injuries have sidelined some key swimmers while graduation cost the Blazers some others.

Coach Lisa Wiegmann said the Blazers are starting to rebuild but still have plenty of talent. Sophomores Kate Baust and Rebecca Godwin should help anchor NDP. Both can swim in almost any event and help on relays that will give the team points.

Poly again should be the team to beat in Baltimore City. The defending champion Engineers have a new coach but several returning swimmers who helped them win the boys and girls championships in the city last winter.

Former Lake Clifton swimmer Julian Wilkins, who never lost a race in four years with the Lakers, takes over as the Poly coach for a program that continues growing.

"It feels excellent," said Wilkins, who was a Poly assistant coach last year. "We have some depth. They're very hard-working and very dedicated."

For the boys, seniors Jesse Oxman (100 butterfly/200 IM) and Daniel McNaster (50 freestyle/100 breaststroke) plus juniors Erik Merrit (100 butterfly/200 freestyle) and David Guth (100 backstroke/100 freestyle) return to give Poly plenty of depth.

The Poly girls have just as much depth. Seniors Alida Gerritsen (100 breaststroke/200 IM), Rebecca Rehr (200/500 freestyle) and Keisha Grell (100 backstroke/relays) along with sophomore Emma Call (100 butterfly/200 IM) all won something at last year's city championship meet and should score more points this season.

In Harford County, there should be a battle between C. Milton Wright, Fallston and Havre de Grace for the top spots this season.

Fallston won the county boys title and finished second in the girls division last year. The girls should be stronger as they have a solid group of younger swimmers returning who should score plenty of points. Coach Sheri Huppenthal said senior Michelle Killeen (freestyle/backstroke), junior Allison Fogarty (backstroke/IM) plus sophomores Taylor Brown (freestyle) and Jackie Cook (breaststroke/freestyle) should lead the way. The girls are dedicating the season to the memory of former captain Katie Italiano, killed in a recent car accident.

For the boys, seniors Matt Colly (backstroke/freestyle) and Wesley Huppenthal (freestyle/ IM) plus sophomore David Zablocki (backstroke/freestyle) and freshman Nick Tomechko (butterfly/freestyle) should spark the team throughout the season.

Havre de Grace took second in the boys and fifth combined last year. The Warriors lost only a few seniors overall and have some good younger underclassmen who can contribute quickly.

Seniors Kyle North (backstroke/freestyle), David Tobin (breaststroke/IM) and Joe Bringardner (butterfly/IM) and junior Danny Worrell (backstroke/freestyle) give the boys a solid core of swimmers.

Sophomore Laura Brandon (backstroke/freestyle) plus junior Shelly Tobin (butterfly/ freestyle) should score plenty of points for the girls.

"We've got much better depth than last year," said Havre de Grace coach Aaron Thompson.

"I think we're going to do OK."

C.M. Wright won the girls' championship for a fifth straight year and also captured a fourth consecutive combined title.

This will be a rebuilding year for both the Mustangs boys and girls. Seniors Josh Knight (IM/breaststroke) and Eddie Kim (freestyle) will anchor the boys while junior Lauren Buckman (freestyle) and senior Katie Murphy (freestyle) should help a much younger girls team.

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