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updated: 11/2/2013 10:26 PM

Naperville Central prepped for postseason

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By Neil Shalin
Daily Herald Correspondent

The Naperville Central girls swimming team proved Saturday that it's peaking at the right time.

The Redhawks rode a trio of 1-2 finishes, a pair of relay victories and a record-breaking diving performance to the DuPage Valley Conference championship at a conference meet that was hosted by Wheaton co-op and held at Naperville North.

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The Redhawks won six events, four in the second half of the meet, to score 316 points and outduel rival Naperville North, second with 271.

Wheaton was third with 218, followed by Lake Park, 185, Glenbard North, 129 and West Aurora with 117.

The Redhawks sophomore Sydney Dusel won the diving competition by setting a meet record with 436 points.

Naperville Central started the day off with a bang winning the 200 medley relay behind Kamryn Gallowich, Sydney Weeks, Beth Ryan and Erin Stevens.

Then the Redhawks watched other teams finish first in five straight races before Kelley Lehane and Carolina Matamoros took first and second for Naperville Central in the 500 freestyle.

"Carolina and I were talking before the race that we have to finish 1-2," said Lehane, a three-year state qualifier. "We promised to stay with each other."

The Redhawks then captured the 200 freestyle relay crown with Gallowich, Caitlin Guccione, Jessica Sanford and Stevens doing the work.

And that was followed by two more top-two finishes, the 100 backstroke with Gallowich and Lehane touching ahead of the pack, and the 100 breaststroke that saw Weeks and Stevens give the Redhawks their third 1-2 finish of the day.

"I was pumped up and really nervous before the meet," Weeks said, "but the whole team was very supportive. I think we proved today that we're ready for sectionals."

"We've been racing well all season," said Naperville Central coach Mike Adams. "But this is a good way to start our championship season. We picked up the pace as the meet went on and those 1-2 finishes were impressive. We did a nice job today."

Naperville North senior Katherine Malinski had a big day taking the conference title in both the 50 and the 100 freestyle. She joined Taylor Stoner, Katie Horn and Devin Jacobs on the winning 400 freestyle relay team that finished almost five seconds ahead of second-place Naperville Central.

"Because of graduation losses I had to step it up a little for the team this year," Malinski said. "I had some special coaching over the summer and really learned how to sprint. The hard work paid off and I'm really happy that I could win two sprint races to help our team."

Jacobs won the 200 IM, Wheaton's Amanda Stiegal took the title in the 200 freestyle and Glenbard North's Danielle Homere won the 100 butterfly.

"Stiegal has been our leader in practice all year," said Wheaton coach Jacob Ayers. "Last year she qualified for state in the 100 and 200 freestyle and both freestyle relays. This year she will be on all three relays."

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