When asked prior to the Metro Catholic Athletic Conference girls swim meet where his team might finish, Rosary coach Bill Schalz said he figured his team was destined for fourth place.
That's no disrespect to the Beads, who are having a solid season this fall. But Fenwick, Loyola and meet host St. Ignatius figured to battle for the top prizes in Sunday's meet, which took place at UIC.
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Heading into the final three events, those three teams were separated by 6 points. Fenwick surged to claim the title ahead of Loyola, with St. Ignatius third.
And Rosary? The Beads were fourth, as Schalz had predicted.
"Having seen Ignatius and Loyola and Fenwick all year long, we knew we weren't ready to hang with them, which is fine," Schalz said. "But we had some other high goals. We had a handful of kids who were tapered and they swam awesome, a good sign for us moving forward. And we had some kids racing for sectional spots today, and those kids swam really well."
While not claiming conference titles, the Beads had a number of solid swims, starting with the 200-yard medley relay, which was third. Annie Gosselin was third in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100 butterfly. Kate Canfield placed third in the 100 backstroke and Alexis Yager was third in the 100 breaststroke.
"We had a few glitchy swims here and there, but they're capable of swimming faster," Schalz said. "We've got to get them closer to the state cuts."
Time improvements are key for Rosary, which heads to Neuqua Valley for its IHSA sectional meet. The Beads cannot count on qualifying a number of swimmers by winning sectional races so they're focused on the state time standards.
"Our medley has only been under the state cut once this year," Schalz said. "Our other two relays are close, but not that close, and close doesn't get it done at the state meet. We're going to have to go under the cut at sectionals in order to be able to go."
Yager was also fourth in the 200 IM and the freshman swam on the Beads' 200 medley relay team as well as the fourth-placed 200 freestyle relay.
"I've been trying to fix my stroke," Yager said. "I'm trying to move from the dual meets and invitationals into championship season, and it's all coming together now. I was really tired at the end of the (breaststroke), but I felt really good, compared to all my other swims."
Benet finished fifth but had a series of strong finishes -- especially by Mary Claire Webb, who was fourth in the 50 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle. Katie Joyce was seventh in the 200 freestyle and sixth in the 100 butterfly. Alanna Galvin took eighth in the 500 freestyle and seventh in the 100 backstroke. Benet heads to Downers Grove North for its sectional meet.
St. Viator was eighth in the 14-team meet. Nina Byskosh had the team's top performances, finishing ninth in the 50 freestyle and 12th in the 100 freestyle.
"I think our team swam fanstastic today," St. Viator coach Jeff Davis said. "This is our last meet before sectionals, and that's what we've been focused on, getting one last meet against great competition."
The Lions' sectional meet takes place at Barrington, and like Schalz, Davis felt the Metro Catholic meet was a good preparation.
"I believe this is one of the best conferences in the state," Davis said. "You've got four or five of the top 20 teams in the state."
St. Francis finished 11th. Sara Lockmueller was 13th in the 100 butterfly for the Spartans.