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A bittersweet finish : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
A bittersweet finish
Voss places 12th in diving, Casas reaches state finals in two events

by Christine Bolin Dascher


The 2013 girls' swimming and diving state meet at New Trier last Friday and Saturday in Winnetka was a bit overwhelming for the Oswego-Oswego East squad this year.

While the team had plenty of state qualifiers, only two reached the second day of action on Saturday.

Senior diver Justine Voss reached the finals and ended up placing 12th overall in the state and senior Nelly Casas qualified for Day 2 in the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle.

"We didn't perform to the best of our potential," Oswego-Oswego East head coach Deryl Leubner said. "We had a great sectional (the team placed fifth at Neuqua Valley), and we were so emotionally invested in the sectional. For us to come back and be able to match that emotion, it was hard for us to do, and we were a little flat."

New Trier won the state title with a 160.5, followed by Downers Grove North (157), Fenwick (126), Loyola (100), Mundelein (82), Lake Forest (78) and Stevenson (74).

Three teams Oswego-Oswego East competed against this year placed eighth (St. Charles East, 67), ninth (Rosary, 55) and 10th (Naperville Central, 54) in the state.

After the first day of competition, Voss was one of 12 qualifiers. She went ninth with a score of 270.7. In the finals, her score was 347.1.

"She did great," diving coach Bob Provost added. "Her goal and my goal was actually top 15, but I kind of thought she was going to go top 12. We took it one step at a time, and I think she might have surprised herself.

"It was a huge highlight because she was the first girl from Oswego to make it to the finals. It's a step we'd like the program to go in now. She set the bar higher than it's been."

"That was the story of the meet right there," Leubner added on Voss, a two-time state qualifier in diving.

On Friday, Casas qualified in the 500 free after placing ninth in 5:00.23. In the finals, she placed 10th in 5:01.53. In the 200 free, she placed eighth in 1:52.02, but in the finals, she was hit with a false start.

"Best time in the 200 freestyle - a school record - but the false start in the finals maybe wasn't the best call," Leubner said. "She handled it very professionally and moved on. The senior maturity was definitely there."

The other swimmers did not get past the first day.

"This is an insane swim meet," Leubner said. "It's so very fast and the margin of error - if you are one percent off, you are moving down. It's just hard to stay so sharp after so many swims, and by the time you get to Saturday afternoon, it's already five in the afternoon, and you've been there for seven hours. It was hard to get a good swim."

Sophomore Macie McCallum ended up 29th (in 5:12.30) in the 500-freestyle, senior Emily Wulff went 30th in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:06.72) and senior Sydney Lloyd went 35th in the 100-yard butterfly (58.55).

In the 100-yard backstroke, Lloyd went 46th in 59.80 and senior Hannah McDowell placed 57th in 1:01.34. She also placed 54th in the 50-yard freestyle in 25.34.

In the 200-medley relay (McDowell, Wulff, Lloyd and Casas), the team placed 17th in 1:48.50 and in the 200-yard freestyle relay, the same four placed 33rd in 1:40.12.

Leubner summed up the season as a successful one. That included a fourth straight Independent Conference title, a second-place showing at Metea Valley's Mustang Invite, dual meet wins over Waubonsie Valley, Benet and Plainfield's co-op and a performance at the sectional where 20 points separated first place from fifth place.

So far, Lloyd (Wisconsin-Green Bay) and Wulff ( St. Bonaventure in New York) just two swimmers will swim at the Division-I level next year. Leubner said he expects the other swimmers to commit later on in the spring.

"It's been a great season with this group of girls," Leubner said. "It's been a completely drama-free and wonderful season of girls who not only have swam together for the past four years in high school, but for eight, nine years. They know each other so well, and this is the closest group I've ever worked with. I'm privileged to have had the opportunity to be a part of it."

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