November 15, 2008
After completing their 11th consecutive undefeated regular season, the Rosary Beads are primed to defend their girls swimming state title -- again. The Beads brought home their first state championship in 2006 and successfully denied all opponents in 2007.
No doubt, Rosary enters the Neuqua Valley Sectional on Saturday with a large target on its back. But when that's the case, the competition is behind you.
Senior Kally Fayhee won the 500-yard freestyle at the state meet last season, and junior Olivia Scott has won the 100 butterfly in her first two years of high school swimming. Scott also claimed the 200 individual medley last year. Senior Kara Savegnago and junior Mackenzie Powers will also be relied upon to shoulder the load for the Beads, but it is their depth that separates them from the rest of the field.
"We've got Kally, Olivia, Kara and Mackenzie that are state finalists individually, but to win the meet you need the rest of the swimmers that can go out there and fill that in," coach Bill Schalz said. "I think we've got a good balance of that this year.
"New Trier is really tough right now and there are some other teams that are going to be really tough. But if we swim well and swim like we did last year, we're going to have a great shot to repeat."
Recently, the Beads relay teams dipped below the IHSA state qualifying times, and they appear to be at full strength. Savegnago, Powers, senior Elisabeth Tavierne and junior Diana Norkus combined in the 200 medley relay and were nearly three seconds ahead of the IHSA time. Scott, Powers, Savegnago and Fayhee teamed up in the 200 freestyle relay while Norkus, Scott, Fayhee and freshman Emily Launer swam the 400 freestyle relay. The 400 freestyle team was better than six seconds ahead of the qualifying mark.
The sectional is filled with talented teams. Naperville Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley may be the Beads' closest competition. But with experience on their side, the Beads know what to expect.
"We have three freshmen that are going to be in the sectional lineup, so having that senior leadership is going to be key for those freshmen," Schalz said.
"We've been working really hard and we're where we want to be," Fayhee said. "We want to be dead tired to where taper is going to work. If you train hard all season, then taper works."
"Anything can happen on any day, so we can't get complacent. There's a lot of teams out there that have the same goal as us."
Having had so much success, some would view the meet as pressure-packed for the Beads. But they say them have never been more ready.
"I don't think it's pressure that hurts us; I think it's pressure that pushes us to be the best that we can be," Fayhee said. "We know that we're a huge target and we know people want to beat us, but that honestly pushes us to our goal."
Waubonsie hopes for a repeat or better performance than what it had at last year's state meet, when the Warriors played three relay teams in the top seven. Elena Carvell, Andrea Baumgartner, Julia Carroll, Vicki Munson and Shelby Daeschner lead the Warriors into the sectional.
West Aurora will also compete at Neuqua Valley. Emily Timmons will be in the 200 IM race and the 100 breaststroke, while Katie Hutches will compete in diving. The Blackhawks have a large crop of newcomers and hope to build from this season.
The Illinois Math and Science Academy is looking forward to the event. The Titans have broken one school record this year and hope to send several individuals to state. Senior Erin Talbot and junior Kendra Smith lead the Titans while divers Jade Martin and Julie Eagle could break into the top 12.
"We'd like to see our relays score as high as possible while getting all of our swimmers to hit their tapers and swim some lifetime bests," IMSA coach Chris Colburn said.
The Oswego co-op squad is led by senior Karolina Wartalowicz, sophomore Rebecca Hatcher, Stephanie Komanecki and Nicole Lligeza. That group will team up in the 200 medley relay.
Plano will have a pair of individuals in the meet in sisters Katie Hallenbeck, a sophomore, and Rebecca Hallenbeck, a senior. For Sandwich, freshman Sharron Isola will compete in the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke, while sophomore Jessica Lauzon will swim in the 200 and 500 freestyles.