McDonogh coming back for more at IAAM championships

In wake of 2004 sweep, Eagles are heavy favorites

Girls swimming

February 06, 2005|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

A year ago, McDonogh won all 11 events at the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland swimming championships. With almost all of the girls back, including three record setters, the only question about today's title meet seems to be what can the Eagles do for an encore?

Anne Marie Botek, Claire Hutchinson and Kelly Peloquin each won two individual titles and swam on two champion relay teams. Each set an individual meet record - Botek in the 100-yard butterfly, Hutchinson in the 500 freestyle and Peloquin in the 100 breast stroke.

The Eagles also return sprinter Kat McIntosh, defending champ in the 50 free.

Only one of McDonogh's individual champs graduated - Danielle Spearman in the 100 freestyle. McIntosh likely will step into that event as the meet kicks off at 9 a.m. at UMBC.

McDonogh co-coach Scott Ward wants to see how his team handles the pressure after a 7-0 dual meet season in which the Eagles won their first outright title. In 2003, the Eagles tied for first with Notre Dame Prep, which had won the previous eight crowns.

"I would agree we are the team to beat, and we are looking forward to the challenge," said Ward, who shares coaching duties with Cyndy Lopata.

"I don't know if people will be rooting for us not to win, but at some point that happens. Last year, other schools were cheering for us, because that's the American way, rooting for the underdog."

NDP (6-2) suffered significant losses to graduation but returns Kate Baust, who picked up silver and bronze in last season's meet; Kate Auerbach and Rebecca Godwin.

Blazers coach Lisa Wiegmann agreed the Eagles are favored.

"They have a lot of very fast swimmers and some incredible swimmers. They're going to be strong for a couple of years."

Having the top swimmers is one key to winning the championship meet. The other is depth, because 16 places score.

Two years ago, McDonogh won 10 of 11 events, but NDP had more depth and tied the Eagles for the title.

This season, however, Mount de Sales coach John Clark said depth might not be as important in winning the title.

"With the kind of superstar power McDonogh has, you don't have to be too deep," Clark said. "They're not tremendously deep, but they're deep enough."

Clark's Sailors have made the biggest strides this season, finishing the regular season 7-1.

The Sailors finished third in last year's title meet behind NDP, but they upset the Blazers in this season's first meet.

Ward and the Eagles aren't making room in their trophy case just yet.

"Mount de Sales is going to be a serious threat, and NDP is going to be a serious threat," Ward said. "Mount de Sales returned the bulk of its team and brought in a very powerful freshman, which gives [Clark] the flexibility to move girls to other events."

That freshman, Emily Dean, set a school record in the 100-yard butterfly in her first high school meet as the Sailors upset NDP. Dean also won the 100 backstroke that day and helped win two relays.

Cathy Gallagher, Megan Hagen and Jamie Schmidt also lead the Sailors.

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