Midlands area teams face long odds in competition for SC swimming titles

10/04/2012 12:00 AM

10/03/2012 8:57 PM

For Midlands teams in this season’s Class 4A and Class 3A swimming championships, the theme is managed expectations.

At USC’s Sol E. Blatt Natatorium on Saturday, several area coaches will be thinking more about times than titles.

A.C. Flora coach David Livsey has been pleased with the Falcons’ performance through the regular season, and said he is aiming for both boys and girls squads to improve over last year’s final standings — 12th and 11th, respectively.

“Honestly, I’m looking for best possible performances. We’ve already put all the work in,” Livsey said. “I’m hoping they are going to push it for this last meet.”

Garrett Ocker leads the Falcons with a No. 1 seed in the 100 free and a fifth seed in the 50 free. Livsey also is hoping to get both the boys 200- and 400-meter freestyle relay squads —seeded eighth and ninth — on the medal stand.

Meanwhile, defending 4A boys champion Lexington has the toughest act to follow.

The Wildcats’ only swimmer seeded in top 10 is Andre Rutledge, who is seeded eighth in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly. On the girls’ side, Megan Charnovich leads with a No. 3 seed in the 100 freestyle, and a No. 7 seed in the 50 freestyle.

Spring Valley’s boys could be a major contender in Class 4A, with all three of the Vikings’ relays seeded in the top 10 and Jonathan Boland expected to be a top contender in several events.

For the rebuilding Chapin Eagles, coach Peggy Mueller is approaching this season’s final meet with positive realism.

“We lost 12 seniors last year and that just wiped out our boys squad. We have a lot of young swimmers and they kind of stepped up all season long. We just don’t have the numbers and the depth this year,” said Mueller, whose Eagles boys placed ninth and girls, seventh, in 2011. “This year, I’m going to state meet just expecting each individual swimmer and each relay to do their best time and perform to their maximum, because that is the first step.”

The Eagles have 10 swimmers qualified for the 3A meet, with three girls relays and two boys relays entered.

Eighth grader Catherine Bendziewicz is a leader among them.

Bendziewicz, whose two older brothers were top swimmers for the Eagles over the past eight seasons, qualified in six events, and is seeded second in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle sprints. She also will swim the butterfly leg on the 200 medley relay and in the 400 freestyle relay.

“The minute she stepped foot on the Chapin swimming deck as a seventh-grader, she got in the fast lane. She’s not cocky but she got in there and she won everything last year, and this year again at our six dual meets she is undefeated,” Mueller said.

Alec Rutkowski, seeded third in the 200 individual medley, leads the Eagles boys.

Mueller said Rutkowski’s personal best from club competition would beat the No. 1 seed time of 1 minute, 58.17 seconds. Rutkowski also could outperform his seed in the 100 breast, where a 1:05.34 mark this season seeded him seventh.

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