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updated: 9/9/2013 2:09 PM

Girls swimming: Scouting the Fox Valley

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  • Melissa Rose of Cary-Grove swims the 100-yard breaststroke at the state prelims last year.

      Melissa Rose of Cary-Grove swims the 100-yard breaststroke at the state prelims last year.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent

Bartlett-Streamwood Co-Op

Coach: Jeremy Meserole (1st season)

2012 finish: 4-3, 2-1 Upstate Eight River

Top returning swimmers: Junior Rachel Tomazin (backstroke), sophomores Meagan Cummins (fly, freestyle), Caitlin McGrath (backstroke)

Key newcomers: Sophomore Sarah Hanning (fly, backstroke, IM), freshmen Kelly Byrne (breaststroke, IM), Brianna Cichon (backstroke, fly, freestyle), Kayla Filipek (freestyle), Drew Landrowski (fly, breaststroke, IM), Allison Marsh (backstroke, IM)

Outlook: Bartlett-Streamwood has a roster where 21 of 28 members are freshmen or sophomores. "Our youth is strong," said Meserole, who is assisted by Jaimie Pearson. "We have added a junior national qualifier in the fly and back and have added girls who can break team records and make a push for individual and relay swims at the state meet. We are looking to do things this program has never seen. We've got a solid group of returners and have some strong additions. We looked primed to have a presence at state and break a majority of our team records." Meserole likes the leadership his upperclassmen are showing. "Our upperclassmen are outspoken, positive role models who provide a great sense of leadership and promote a light and positive environment," he said. "They make working hard fun. With a new coach, new philosophy and many new teammates it can be hard to adjust, but the girls have really bought in quickly. You can sense the excitement every day."

Cary-Grove Trojans

Coach: Scott Lattyak

2012 finish: 6th place Fox Valley Conference

Top returning swimmers: Seniors Ashley Mega (fly and freestyle), Hannah Weber (50, 100, fly), junior Melissa Rose (breaststroke, 50, 100), sophomore Natalie Hamann (backstroke, 50, 100)

Key newcomers: Freshmen Ashlynn Baker (backstroke, 200), Rebecca Elrod (500, IM), Karsen Seeger (50, 100, fly)

Outlook: Rose and Mega are returning all-conference performers for the Trojans, Rose having made state in the breaststroke. "The team is unified and pushing harder than ever," said Lattyak. "The team captains (Alexandra Kroll, Corrin Meyer and Mega) are holding the team together like glue. The athletes are extremely motivated and have the will and desire to be great. I'm looking forward to seeing the team rise to the occasion at practice, dual meets, conference, sectionals and state." Lattyak said Rose, Elrod, Baker, Seeger and Weber are swimmers to watch for during FVC action.

Crystal Lake Co-Op

Coach: Stephanie Wozny

2012 finish: 3rd place Fox Valley Conference

Top returning swimmers: Seniors Danielle Dalbke (backstroke, sprint freestyle, Prairie Ridge), Claire Mollitor (breaststroke, sprint freestyle, IM, Prairie Ridge), Elizabeth Pieroni (sprint freestyle, backstroke, fly, Prairie Ridge)

Key newcomers: Sophomore Julia Janeczko (fly, sprint freestyle, distance freestyle, CL South), freshmen Paige Dalbke (fly, IM, Prairie Ridge), Nora Mollitor (backstroke, sprint freestyle, Prairie Ridge)

Outlook: Crystal Lake has 27 swimmers in the program this season. "We have a good squad with depth and experience," said Wozny. "The girls are used to swimming together as a team with their past club experience, which has helped them bond as a team. We have a nice mix of experienced swimmers from all three schools ready to help those swimmers new to the team and show them the ropes of high school swimming." Wozny said the team will have a youthful look to it after a number of key graduation losses. "This is a transition year for our team," she said. "We have a lot of new swimmers to the team this year. A lot of our stronger swimmers from last year's roster graduated, including our two state qualifiers. We are the underdogs going into the season. A lot of people expect us to be weaker. I think we may prove them wrong."

Dundee-Crown Chargers

Coach: Marilyn Lemke

2012 finish: Second to last FVC

Top returning swimmers: Junior Rachel Skoog (freestyle, breaststroke).

Key newcomers: Freshmen Natalya Damato (breaststroke), Kelly Swanson (breaststroke, freestyle), Kayla Trebat (500), Amy Merkelz (backstroke), Faith Kenaga (freestyle), Rachel Bucholc (breaststroke, freestyle)

Outlook: D-C had only seven swimmers on the roster last season. Numbers are up this year with 26 in the program, 12 of which will compete at the varsity level. "This year is looking up," said Lemke. "We have many freshmen newcomers who are club swimmers and will fill our varsity lineup. We have no seniors this year, but a lot of freshmen. More than half the team is comprised of freshmen. Of those, six are experienced club swimmers. The size of the team this year definitely is a strength. We have come from having 15-17 girls the past three years to a team of 26 this year, many with previous experience. The team is very cohesive and supportive of each other." Lemke said keys for the team are pacing and relays. She's also been pleased with Skoog's progress. "Rachel spent time this summer tweaking her breaststroke," she said. "As her coach, she has the potential to qualify for state."

Huntley Red Raiders

Coach: George Keenan

2012 finish: 2nd place Fox Valley Conference

Top returning swimmers: Seniors Ali Cazel (200, fly), Amanda Cazel (200, backstroke), junior Emily Ferguson (IM, 500)

Key newcomers: Freshmen Veronica Burgos (IM, fly), Hailey Hill (backstroke, 500), Jacki Padal (backstroke, 100)

Outlook: Ferguson is the returning conference champion in the 500. Keenan said this year's team is younger, but will have more opportunity to refine its skills due to increased pool time at Centegra. "We have a lot of new kids, but we have more pool time than we did last year," said Keenan. "Hopefully that will help us build from our previous successes." Numbers are up as well. "We had 18 swimmers last year and we have 26 this year," said Keenan. "Depth will help us." Keenan also lauded the efforts of the staff at Centegra. "They are a good partner to us and Huntley," he said. Keenan added the team does yoga twice a week in addition to its swimming activities. Keenan said Cary-Grove is a team to keep an eye on in the FVC. Cary-Grove definitely is the team to beat."

Jacobs Golden Eagles

Coach: Young Le

2012 finish: Fox Valley Conference champions

Top returning swimmers: Junior Nick Sanchez, Jackie O'Connor

Key newcomers: Freshmen Alexa Agoranos, Rochelle Sia, Julia Tokarz

Outlook: Sanchez and O'Connor are returning all-conference swimmers. "We have a well-rounded team," said Le. "Hopefully we can get a couple qualifiers for state. I think this is going to be a very interesting season."

Elgin-Larkin Co-Op

Coach: Nancy Kalush

Top returning swimmers: Junior Brittany Picardi (freestyle, backstroke, Elgin), sophomores Echo Boehm (sprint freestyle), Olivia Brownfield (IM), Heather Aubry (freestyle)

Key newcomers: Freshman Lilly Woerner (IM, freestyle)

Outlook: Kalush has a nice mix of returning swimmers and newcomers to the pool. "The returning swimmers have been doing a great job helping out the new swimmers learn the ropes of competitive swimming," she said. "With many new faces this year and a growing team, I think we will have a fun and successful season. The girls are close as a team and support each other in practice, meets and outside the pool. Their positive sportsmanship to each other will help them swim strong." Kalush said continued hard work and mental focus will be keys this season. "We need to work hard in practice and think about our swims," said Kalush. "The girls have the desire to do well and are excited to be at the pool each day. This will make for a successful season."

South Elgin Storm

Coach: Margie Ellwood

Top returning swimmers: Seniors Meghan Markwell (middle distance freestyle, backstroke), juniors Rachael Hopp (butterfly, IM, freestyle), Emily Logan (middle distance freestyle, backstroke), Katy Balk (sprint freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, diving), Rachel DeGrane (diving), sophomore Carolyn Riehle (sprint freestyle, breaststroke, diving)Key newcomers: Freshmen Shianne Brewer (sprint freestyle, IM, backstroke), Carly McGuire (freestyle, fly), Audriana Rodriguez (freestyle, breaststroke)

Outlook: Ellwood has reason for optimism this season. "The overall feel for this team is that they are ready to work hard to accomplish the goals they have set out to achieve," she said. "We have a team that ranges in several levels of swimmers from new to the sport to very accomplished. It will be very exciting to watch as each level develops and refines their abilities as athletes. I'm very excited to watch this diverse group of swimmers continue to improve their techniques and work very hard to further advance their skills, endurance and speed. It is so encouraging to have so many returning swimmers." Other key returners include Melissa Plazola, Aanshi Panchol, Katie Lomperski, Basila Deany and Shannon O'Brien. "They already have shown improvement over last season. Ellwood is excited about the prospects of McGuire and Brewer in freestyle events and Riehle in the freestyle and breaststroke. Ellwood added the team also is strong on the diving board. "The diving event will further strengthen the team," she said. "Our divers will be ready for competition at conference."

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