Naperville Central, North Back among Top Teams

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Uphues Daily Herald Correspondent

Put last year's swimming season for Naperville North and Central in a time capsule and bury it, because in four years it will appear a dusty, strange-looking artifact.

Because the Napervilles have reloaded. Large and talented freshman classes and transfers have bolstered an experienced core of young swimmers at both schools.

"After last year, it was kind of funny that the two of us, for the first time in 25 years, were down at the same time," said Naperville North coach Dick Raab, referring to his long-time rival, Naperville Central coach, Jon Carlson. "It's going to be fun to compete again."

There haven't been very many years in the past two decades that either school, let alone both, have fallen out of the state's top 10. Naperville Central last finished out of that company in 1986. Naperville North failed to break the top 10 in 1993 and '94. Since the IHSA began running a state meet for girls swimming in 1975, the two schools have combined for 32 top-10 finishes.

So for both schools to have been kept off the scoreboard entirely in 2001, well, it's hard to comprehend.

Neither school may make it back into the top 10 this season, but both are sure to be back on the scoreboard. And both will have the competition looking over their shoulders.

Part of the reason both Naperville North and Central will be so much better this year is that both have strong returning teams. All seven swimmers from Naperville Central's state meet squad - seniors Abby Buhrandt, Erika Larson and Meghan Daly; and juniors Laurel Shipley, Lauren McNichols, Jen Beresheim and Carolyn Kelly - are back. More importantly, that group made up all three relays. Even though they didn't score points, that experience is sure to help get them closer to the final heats in 2002. And since relay points are doubled at the state meet, relays are key.

"We got a little taste of prelim action," Carlson said. "I figure we have to be better than last year. We didn't have any seniors last year and had only one swimmer (Buhrandt) going in with any state meet experience making finals."

And although Naperville North lost a pair of important swimmers from last year's state meet team, the Huskies return four underclassmen - sophomore Megan Fiene, who placed 15th in the 500- yard freestyle; junior Trisha Meier, a state qualifier in the 200 free; junior Brittany Fieldson, a qualifier in the 50 free; and junior Meghan Boldevich, who led off the Huskies state qualifying 200 free relay - and one senior, diver Erin Quinn.

But who's coming back is just the tip of the iceberg at both Naperville North and Central. Look out for the new kids.

"Naperville North has the best freshman class in the state," said Neuqua Valley coach Len Penkala, Raab's other local rival. …