Parkway South out to defend Suburban West Conference girls swim meet championship
By: Warren Mayes
Parkway South ended Lafayette’s 27-year hold on the Suburban West Conference swim meet last winter and the Patriots want to keep it. Understandably, Lafayette wants it back.
The two-day meet begins at 4 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 7) at Lafayette. The event concludes Friday.
“Of course, Lafayette wants to beat us,” Parkway South coach Sara Gerth said. “We have many returning girls that were a part of that win. Last year’s won was a huge accomplishment for us. We hope to continue that success, but it won’t be easy.”
Everybody wants to knock off the champ. Parkway South also captured the regular season conference championship.
“Yes, we kind of have a bulls-eye on our back,” Gerth said. “Lafayette knows what that feels like, and they have always handled that pressure well. Hopefully, we will be able to handle it as well.”
Her squad is ready to swim and dive in the meet.
“My girls are fired up about our conference meet,” Gerth said. “For many of them, it will be their last meet of the season, and for some, it will be their last chance to make a state cut. They are excited for the opportunity to swim fast.”
Lafayette coach Todd Gabel agreed.
“The conference meet is always good right before the state meet it gets them prepared to race a week later and it also gives them a chance to make state in an event they are not qualified in,” Gabel said. “The meet is very energized and they take that with them into their races.”
Marquette coach Joe Schoedel said the chance to make the state meet, which will be held Feb. 15-16 at the Rec-Plex in St. Peters, is plenty of incentive to go all out at the conference meet.
“For many who don’t have state cuts, this is their last opportunity of the season to achieve those times,” Schoedel said. “For others, it’s simply the end of their season and a final opportunity to show how much they’ve improved over the course of the last three months.”
Most coaches agreed Parkway South and Lafayette are the favorites to win the meet.
“It’s a tough conference … lots of great swimmers and divers,” Eureka coach Sharon Wasson said. “Who are the favorites? Lafayette and Parkway South.”
Schoedel concurred but he said to watch out for his Mustangs.
“As usual, both Parkway South and Lafayette have very strong squads,” Schoedel said. “We should put up a good fight though.”
Gerth said: “The meet is going to be close between us and Lafayette. Marquette and Eureka will also be strong.”
The Patriots want to qualify for more girls for state, Gerth said.
“I have high expectations for my girls. I expect us to pick up about 8 more state cuts, and improve most times at the meet,” Gerth said. “CeCe Etter, Samm Crocker, and Jenna Wilkes have great chances to win an event or two. All three of our relays have an opportunity to win as well.”
Gabel said his Lancers are ready to compete.
“The girls are very excited about swimming at conference,” Gabel said. “It is the fun part of the season when they are rested and ready to swim fast. The conference meet should be exciting a lot of good swimmers from all the schools. My expectations are if they swim well, good things will happen for them.”
Several Lafayette swimmers have chances to win events, Gabel said.
“I would think Mae Riordan, Laura Paskoff, Taylor Holz, and Claire Kirchhoefer all have a shot of winning an event,” Gabel said.
Several Wildcats may do some damage, Wasson said. Eureka’s 200 medley relay, the 200 free relay, the two divers — Sarah Mink and Emma Elwood — along with Stephanie Mueller in the 50 free and Emily Muggleton in the 200IM and 100 breaststroke all will be competitive in the conference meet.
“We will hang with the best of them,” Wasson said.
Schoedel has high expectations for his Marquette squad.
“This may be the first year that I’ve coached that we have an opportunity for every one of our entries to make it back at finals,” Schoedel said. “That’s in both diving and swimming, which shows how deep and well rounded our team is.”
Junior Abby Watson and senior Natasha Porporis are ranked 1-2 in the 100 back and have a chance to win the event, Schoedel said.
Everything in swimming is geared to getting ready to be at your best for the state meet. This will be the last chance for the girls to tune up.
“This will be good preparation for state, but the girls have to understand that state is a whole new level of competition and they will have to raise the bar to be successful at state,” Gerth said.
Schoedel said the conference meet will show how his girls stand.
“With the strength of the Suburban West, we’ll have a good idea of what some of the better teams in the state are capable of and what events their swimmers will most likely be in,” Schoedel said. “It’s great competition.”