Over the past decade, Sandburg’s girls’ swim program has been blessed with talent and depth, which translated into a streak of 10 consecutive sectional championships and downstate appearances.
This season, however, the Lady Eagles’ roster boasts just eight swimmers. That represents a significant drop-off, percentage-wise, from the 11 or 12 athletes that coach Jane Caliendo has typically had available to her.
But despite the situation, Sandburg narrowly missed extending its string of sectional crowns. Only the host Lady Porters bettered the Lady Eagles at Saturday’s Lockport Sectional, and the winners’ margin of success was slim: just six points.
Sandburg did well enough, though, to amass 280 points and, more importantly, qualify people in seven events for this weekend’s state meet. The Lady Eagles advanced six individual swimmers, a diver and two relay units.
“We’re very pleased with the way we swam and competed [at the sectional],” Caliendo said. “We thought we would likely qualify in five events, and anything beyond that would be icing on the cake. To have seven was great.
“This is the smallest sectional team we’ve ever had, and those eight girls were just great [on Saturday].”
Sophomore Clare Lawlor led the way for the Lady Eagles by taking first in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles (24.34 seconds and 53.58, respectively) and also swimming a leg for the triumphant 400-free relay team. Senior Caitlin Krull and juniors Caitlyn Olson and Mia Robin rounded out the relay quartet, which posted a winning time of 3:35.90.
Lawlor, freshman Devin Apps and juniors Tricia Mangila and Stephanie Pappas joined forces to give Sandburg a runner-up finish in the 200-medley relay (1:49.73), and Apps did likewise as a solo act in the 100-breaststroke (1:06.91). Apps’ individual time was a lifetime best for her and eclipsed the Lady Eagles’ existing frosh-soph record in the race.
Kull provided a pair of second-place showings, doing so in the 200- and 500-freestyles in respective times of 1:55.12 and 5:09.47. Also winding up second was diver Anna Girlich (404 points).
“We knew the 400-relay was a lock, and we knew both Caitlin and Clare would advance in their events,” Caliendo said. “I think, the fact that we won the medley was a bonus [and] Devin Apps’ performance in the breaststroke was a great accomplishment. She also dropped five seconds in the IM.
“Everybody that swam sectionals had at least one lifetime-best time. They’re all very dedicated, and that’s what we want to see. Caitlin’s been to state meet every year, and I know she especially wants to finish her career in a memorable way.”
Shepard finished sixth in the sectional with 90 points.
Victories by Megan Vallance in the 50-free (24.57) and Sophia Shalabi in the 100-breaststroke (1:05.16) propelled Stagg (254 points) to a third-place finish at Saturday’s Lyons Township Sectional. The host Lady Lions (287) and Hinsdale Central (273) were the only schools to better the Lady Chargers’ team total.
Vallance and Shalabi also helped Stagg prevail in the 200-free relay (1:37.73), along with seniors Adrienne DiFoggio and Samyah Isa. Isa was right behind Shalabi in the breaststroke after timing out in 1:06.97.
Shepard opened up its season last Tuesday with a tough 1,909-1,901 defeat against TF South at Centennial Lanes. The Astros’ Eric Walters led all bowlers with a 264 game and 466 series.
On Thursday, Shepard scored a 2,059-1,851 South Suburban Conference Red dual win over Reavis at El-Mar Bowl. Individual leader Brandon Dietz rolled a 280 game and 511 series to boost the Astros.
Sandburg fell short of Joliet West (1,830-1,665) in its season-opener last Tuesday at Orland Bowl. Jared Saba rolled a 223 game and 373 series to lead the Eagles in the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue encounter.
Sandburg bounced back two days later to edge Joliet Central 1,798-1,777 behind Brandon Torres’ 279 game and 442 series at Orland Bowl. The meeting with the Steelmen was also a conference affair.
Like Shepard and Sandburg, Stagg began its 2013-14 season on the wrong end of a final score. Lockport beat the Chargers 2,020-1,560 last Thursday in an SWSC Blue match at Strike ‘N’ Spare II.