Girls swimming season preview
November 21, 2012 8:14PM
Updated: December 24, 2012 7:10AM
Last season, the promise of youth helped make the strongest clubs in the area even more competitive, both locally and at state. At the same time, then-senior Olivia Kabacinski of Chesterton finished her career out with two state titles, earning P-T swimmer of the year honors. And both Crown Point and Lake Central made vast improvements down at the IUPUI Natatorium with the Bulldogs finally cracking into the top 10 and the Indians jumping up 10 spots to finish in the top 20.
Top 5 Teams
Though three-time state champion Kabacinski has moved on, this year’s Trojans team is still the squad to beat in the region. They’re coming off another top-five finish in Indianapolis with the majority of their depth intact.
The Seahorses made their statement right before last year’s state tournament, when they finished off a dual meet upset over Chesterton. That was one of many promising moments for the ninth-place finishers at state. With a young team, the NCC favorite hopes to keep rolling.
3. Crown Point
The young Bulldogs are threatening to end the days of only a couple teams dominating NWI. They jumped up three spots from their previous trip to Indy to take home the No. 10 spot last year. And much of the talent remains on the roster.
4. Lake Central
The Indians also are improving based on the youth that’s coming in. Reigning P-T coach of the year Todd Smolinski’s squad that has improved 10 spots in both of the last two state tournaments. And with a few more newcomers, the future continues to look bright.
Valparaiso is also a threat in the DAC. The second-place finishers at the Chesterton Sectional boast a dominant diver in Khalela El-Naggar, who enhances their state chances.
5 Dark Horse Teams
Stopping the Bearscats will be a tough task for GSSC foes. The third-place team at last year’s Chesterton Sectional with DAC clubs, not just small schools.
The Indians fit the bill of a strong DAC threat. They tied Wheeler for third at the sectional. Even with the graduation of eight seniors, coach Greg Mundt feels good about his group of underclassmen.
3. Kankakee Valley
The past couple of seasons when a standout swimmer graduates, the Kougars find a way to fill holes. So this season, with some low numbers, coach Kevin Stephens is still expecting to compete, led by junior Madison Babicka (sprints).
The excitement and interest in swimming continues to rise at Morton. With what coach Brian Rycerz calls his best turnout in many years, the Governors look to stay competitive in the GLAC. Senior Cierra Charbonneau (100 free and 100 fly) is a strong returner.
The Trojans have been improving for the past couple of seasons. With the strides of athletes like Jessie Zendajas, who stepped up last winter in the mid-distance events, the NCC club is looking to continue its trend at sectional time.
5 Swimmers to watch
1. Julia Campbell,
The Olivia Kabacinski Era may be over, but this talented senior will look to continue the Trojans’ success. She had strong individual finishes at state (13th in the 200 free and seventh in the 500 free) and her contribution to the fourth-place finish in the 400 free relay.
2. Carly Jackson, LaPorte
Jackson has been right on Campbell’s heels for years. Jackson’s second trip to state included a 14th-place finish in the 500 free.
3. Khalela El-Naggar, Valparaiso
The junior enters the season after placing 17th overall during the semifinal round of the diving portion of the state meet.
4. Aly Tetzloff,
CP’s youth movement was demonstrated by Tetzloff’s showing as a freshman last year, when she contributed to a fifth-place showing in the 200 free relay at state.
5. Traci Muzalski,
When the Indians jumped up 10 spots (from 29th to 19th) at last year’s state meet, this junior helped moved the team forward. Muzalski won sectional titles in the 200 and 500 free.
5 New Faces
1. Vanessa Krause,
With Kabacinski’s graduation, there were some holes to be filled in the lineup for Chesterton. Thie freshman already has a pool record under her belt in the 100 fly.
2. Morgan Lagestee,
Lagestee shares the last name of a strong Munster diver from years past and will be part of the team’s high expectations.
3. McKenzie Artim,
Crown Point freshman
Artim looks like the latest installment of strong CP freshmen. She swims the 200 and 500 freestyles.
4. Marina Vasquez,
Lake Central freshman
Vasquez takes over in the 100 back for the graduated school-record holder Shelby Carroll.
5. Kyra Ball,
Portage lost eight to graduation but gained eight freshmen. Ball, who swims freestyle events, tops the group.
— Correspondent Josh Lichtenfeld