Prospect flips the script against Hersey
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In all likelihood, an impressive winning streak came to an end Thursday at Olympic Pool in Arlington Heights.
In all certainty, a different winning streak was extended.
First, the one that probably ended: the host Huskies have made Olympic one very tough place for Mid-Suburban East girls swimming and diving teams to win recently, as Hersey has either won the division outright or had a share of it in each of the past six seasons.
This year, though, it will be hard for anyone to match Prospect for the East crown with two divisional dual meets left after the Knights edged the Huskies 95-91.
A young, talented Prospect team had just enough depth and skill in the strokes to offset Hersey's advantage in the sprint freestyles.
Though Hersey won the 400-yard freestyle relay, Prospect's entrants in the event finished second and third to just barely protect the lead the Knights had earned before the meet's final event.
"In some ways, I think how young we are actually helps us," said Prospect coach Alfonso Lopez. "I mean, we know Hersey has been terrific in conference, but our kids think they can compete with anyone.
"I told them they were going to have to earn it, and Hersey certainly made us. I told them we needed to swim like Hersey has in the past against us here. They know how to race. We really want to mimic how they approach duals."
As for the winning streak that was extended, well, it figured directly into the outcome.
Prospect junior Dana Liva took top honors in diving with a nice score of 269.70, meaning she has yet to be defeated in a high school dual-meet career that already includes a 12th- and sixth-place state meet finish.
Hersey still scored a net gain in the event as the stellar trio of Hannah Bovino, Anne Johnson and Megan Nocita finished 2-3-4, but it wasn't the clean sweep the Huskies usually get on the board.
True to her nature, after the final score was announced, Liva was practically doing backflips.
"It feels amazing to win," she said. "Hersey is a great team and they've been great a lot of years, so we're all excited."
Other keys to the outcome were a 1-2-3 finish in the 200 IM from Prospect's Rachel Rozow, Macey Berkley and Nicole Neumann and a strong effort in the last two individual events, the 100 back and 100 breaststroke. With Knights victories from Betsy Rozow (back) and Macey Berkley (breast), Prospect outscored Hersey 23-9 in the last two individual events.
"The breaststroke, that was really the meet," said Hersey coach Dick Mortensen. "We switched our lineup around a little bit earlier and I don't think they were expecting us to win the 200 free relay. But they had just a couple more horses in the stable than us."
Prospect got a great start with a victory from its all-sibling 200 medley relay of Betsy Rozow, Macey Berkley, Samantha Berkley and Rachel Rozow.
Betsy Rozow also won the 100 free, and Rachel Rozow provided the key second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke.
Betsy Rozow won the 100 free and 100 back, and Hersey had individual victories from Sarah Petro (200 free, 500 free) and Lenna Fotos (50 free).
But Mortensen had things more important than the outcome of a dual meet on his mind.
He arrived at the pool just before the meet started, as his wife, Shayna, has been battling a condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome.
The symptoms are utterly frightening -- paralysis starting at the outer limbs and progressing toward the trunk. Fortunately, the prognosis is good for Shayna, an experienced swimming and water polo coach, as she continues to receive treatment.
"To be able to come to the meet . . . of course it'd have been nice to win, but honestly, on paper, I thought it might be a 20-point difference. So we're making progress. And just to be here, it's kind of a relief for me."
Rolling Meadows d. Elk Grove: Grace Nykol had victories in the 200 and 500 freestyles to help the Mustangs earn a 107-76 victory over the Grens.
Elk Grove had double winners in Simona Kurta (100 fly, 200 IM) and Erin Falejczyk (50 free, 100 free) and won the medley and 400-free relays.
But Rolling Meadows got a 1-2 finish in the 100 breast from Jessie Ligenza and Anna Frantom and also had the top 200-free relay (Maggie Feikes, Betsy Zanocco, Nykol, Ligenza).
Buffalo Grove d. Wheeling: Brina Wahout won a pair of races (200 IM, 100 fly) as the visiting Bison picked up a 105-74 victory.
Wheeling's Theresa Godlewski won the 50 free (25.53), 100 free (56.87) and joined Adrienne Rozmus, Rachel Ropski and Emily Zieger on victorious freestyle relays.
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