Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Pallotti girls take fifth in conference

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In their final season together as members of the St. Vincent Pallotti High School swim team, seniors Jaclyn St. Armand and Michaela Guild admitted that this was their most enjoyable year.

The season ended Sunday afternoon with the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship meet. Pallotti’s girls’ squad went4-5 in dual meets this winter, matching its win total from the previous three seasons combined.

Sunday, the two Pallotti seniors were instrumental in leading the Panthers to a fifth-place finish in the conference meet. St. Armand, who plans to major in nursing at either Towson University, the University of Maryland or Salisbury University, finished sixth in the 100-yard backstroke (1 minute, 5.65 seconds). Guild is headed for York (Pa.) College after finishing third in the 100 freestyle (58.09 seconds) and sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:19.10). Guild, St. Armand, Alison Arnold and Michelle Moore combined to take third in the 400 free relay (4:03.69).

‘‘Our team has been a lot closer this year and I think our coach [Greg Norris] has made everything a lot more fun,” said St. Armand, who belongs to the Bowie-based Belair Swim & Racquet team in the Prince-Mont Summer Swim League. ‘‘We did a lot of things together. We had a scavenger hunt on the mall downtown and he’s made the practices and the meets a lot more fun.

Guild, who is aiming to eclipse the 57-second barrier for the 100 free and the 2:05 mark in the 200 free at the upcoming Washington Metropolitan Swimming Championships, also noted that Norris focused on making the meets and practices both fun and challenging. Pallotti’s girls ended the dual meet slate by edging Seton Keough, 52-42, and by defeating Roland Park, 65-32, and Guild, who swims each summer for Russett Pool, is eager to see how well the Panthers fare at Metros.

‘‘This year, we did a lot more team-bonding things outside of the pool,” Guild said. ‘‘The previous three years it was basically show up, swim and go home. But this year, coach Norris made it a lot of fun. Our relays have been very good all year. We’re looking forward to Metros. A lot of my friends at other schools compete there.”

‘‘We’re really excited about having a chance to represent Pallotti at Metros,” St. Armand added. ‘‘It’s been four or five years since Pallotti has sent anyone to Metros.”

Other girls have contributed to the Panthers’ success all winter and again at the conference championship meet. Arnold finished seventh in the 100 backstroke (1:05.93). Moore took eighth in the 50 free (28.53). Katie O’Neil recorded personal-best times in the 50 free (29.96) and 100 butterfly (1:22.75). Melissa Meaney (100 free), Nicole Kellerman (100 breast) and Katy Kenney (100 free) also contributed. O’Neil, Brigid Lally, Kylie Zaiser and Meaney placed sixth in the 200 free relay (2:06.62).

Although the Pallotti boys failed to win any dual meets this winter, Luke Neitzke owns the team’s top time for the 50 free (26.32), followed closely by Mike Criscouli Matt Long and J.T. Noland. Miles Houck took the best clocking in the 100 free (57.61), Chase Nietzke in the 100 back (1:12.66) and Justin Dolan in the 100 breast (1:14.91) and 100 fly (1:11.38).

E-mail Ted Black at tblack@gazette.net.