There were those who said it would be a rebuilding season for the Marquette Mustangs but girls swim coach Joe Schoedel never had to break out his hammers and saws.
In the conference meet that featured the defending state champions in rival Lafayette, the Marquette girls dove into defending their Suburban West Conference meet championship.
Marquette won going away with 566.5 points. Lafayette was a distant second with 470. Parkway South was third with 347 and Eureka fourth with 332.5.
The victory was Marquette’s fourth consecutive league meet championship.
The point total of 566.5 points also is huge.
“I’m not sure if it’s a record, but it’s certainly up there,” Marquette coach Joe Schoedel said. “That says simply that it was a team win. By being the only team to score every single person we entered, that tells me that everyone understands their role on this team, takes pride in it, and does their job to contribute to the team’s overall success.”
Schoedel said his girls put significant emphasis on doing well in this conference meet.
“After being told for a couple of years that this would be our quote down unquote season after graduating a strong group of seniors, the girls were more determined than ever to step up and show we are still the team to beat,” Marquette coach Joe Schoedel said. “They were focused, goal-driven, and team oriented. It was great watching them celebrate each other’s successes, and pick each other up when they were down.”
The Mustangs recorded just two first-place finishes in the meet. But like they have done all season, Marquette showed why high school swimming is a team sport and not just one for individuals.
“The girls knew this was their opportunity to showcase their depth,” Schoedel said. “It’s one of the more important meets of the season, simply because the talent pool in the Suburban West is the strongest in the state, with strong Parkway South and Eureka squads, and of course the reigning state champs in Lafayette.
“It’s also the last meet before the state competition, so it’s important to go into that meet swimming well.”
Marquette won 200 medley relay in 1 minute, 48.92 seconds. Girls on the relay were junior Lauren Berning, junior Abigail Nebot, sophomore Amanda Yu and senior Lexi Basler.
“This was a great swim for the girls. It was only a half second off our school record,” Schoedel said. “After coming in second to Lafayette in the prelims, the girls knew that this was a win-able relay. (They) came out focused, and stepped up in front of a large, loud crowd.
“They came away with the second fastest time in the state. This relay really set a tone for the finals since Lafayette had been ranked first in all three relays after prelims. For the rest of the team to see this relay step up, we knew it would be our night.”
The only other first-place finish came from Nebot in the 100 breast in 1:07.83.
“This was a great swim for Abigail. She is a big reason why we’re doing so well at big invitational meets when so many are overlooking us,” Schoedel said. “She has worked hard, and dropped significant time in her events this season. After graduating our top breaststroker, Abigail really took up the challenge of filling the medley relay spot, and being that top breaststroker when we needed a win.
“After finishing 22nd in the state last season, she is now looking to be a state finalist, which is incredible improvement.”
Otherwise, the Mustangs simply piled up points with strong finishes in the other events. So, depth was the key to the victory.
“When you only win two events of the 12, depth is the only way to win. Butterfly is a perfect example,” Schoedel said. “We didn’t win, but our girls took second (Amanda Yu), third (Sarah Rosson), fourth (Eva Main), and fifth (Jenny Flores). When our fourth swimmer is faster than all but one teams’ first swimmer, that’s tough to beat.”
Several Mustangs performances caught Schoedel’s eye at the meet.
“Lauren Berning in the IM and back, Amanda Yu in the 50 free and 100 fly, Abigail in 100 breast, as well as our divers Maddie Kelsey and Anna Mae Williams did well,” Schoedel said. “Beyond them, really all our swimmers and divers performed well. Most dropped a lot of time, improved their rankings at state, and did their part for the team.
“We were the only team to place every single swimmer and diver in finals.”
The Mustangs were proud of the victory.
“Of course they were excited, not just to extend our winning streak, but to win in convincing fashion in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us,” Schoedel said. “It speaks volumes of the girls’ drive and dedication.”
Naturally, Schoedel took a dip in the pool after the big victory. He said he gladly dove in.
“But in that instance, it’s not even cold,” Schoedel said. “It always feels good and never gets old.”
With four league titles in a row, the program ranks among the top in the region.
“I think it shows that we haven’t been successful simply because we had a strong class that came through for the past four years,” Schoedel said. “The girls have been steadily building and never content with past successes. I’m excited to see what they’ll do in the coming years and beyond, and I’m blessed to be able to be a part of it.”