Girls Swimming: Lincoln-Way North features De Graff and more
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media August 16, 2012 10:00PM
Lincoln-Way North High School senior Cheyenne De Graff, 17, is seen Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in Frankfort. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Girls Swimming 2012
TEAMS TO WATCH
Sandburg: There is no easy way to replace Tara Capouch and Jamie Pappanastos, but the Eagles return a strong core that will look to put a disappointing state performance behind them. Seniors Brittany Kamper and Kim Katner and junior Caitlin Krull are all capable of breakout years.
Lincoln-Way East: In Sloane McDermott and diver Kyliegh Seibert, the Griffins lose a ton of state meet experience. A quartet of seniors — Brittany Felice, Taylor Jach, Katie Smith and Jana Witulski — will try to lead East to its fifth straight sectional title and its first conference title since the 2008-09 season.
Lockport: Junior Amanda Moran hopes to build on her fifth-place finish at state in the 100-yard backstroke. The Porters may not have the star power, but team depth figures to be a strength.
Tinley Park: Hannah Schultz, Hannah Egan, Kylie Shook lead a returning core of the sectional lineup as the Titans look to defend their South Suburban Blue title.
Richards: The graduated Chris Dvoracek will be tough to replace for the Bulldogs, but coach Joel Staszewski says a young, if somewhat inexperienced, squad welcomes the challenge of defending its South Suburban Red title.
INDIVIDUALS TO WATCH
Danijela Jackovich, Lincoln-Way Central: One of the best water polo players in the state, Jackovich has qualified for state individually in five events through her first three seasons. Can she make it out of the state preliminaries to medal in her senior season?
Leanne Latocha, Oak Forest: Heading into her junior season as one of the South Suburban Conference’s strongest swimmers with Tinley Park’s Schultz, Latocha qualified for state in one event as a freshman and two events as a sophomore.
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:17AM
Like many high school seniors, Lincoln-Way North’s Cheyenne De Graff has college choices on her mind.
Not a fan of the Chicago winter, the senior is thinking about attending a West Coast school, or maybe a university in Arizona or Florida.
But that decision is for after the high school swim season. For now, De Graff has her mind exclusively on closing out her high school career on top.
“I’m excited for the season,” De Graff said after a recent practice. “It’d be nice to finish top six (at state) in at least one event, maybe two. Also, I can leave the team to other people knowing they are capable of leading the team, too.”
Through three seasons, De Graff has qualified for the state meet in 11 events (6 individually, 5 relays) and won two medals. Last season as a junior, she finished seventh in the 200-yard individual medley and 12th in the 100-yard breaststroke.
One of the best swimmers in the state, she also owns nine school records for a young Lincoln-Way North program, seven individual marks and two relays.
But the actual swimming merely is one facet of DeGraff’s senior swimming season. She has tried to embrace a bigger team role.
“I always looked up to the older kids, so now that I’m the oldest everyone can look up to me as a leader of the team,” De Graff said. “My leadership has developed, and all of the seniors do a great job leading.”
Coach Kendra Will has seen the change in her star swimmer.
“Cheyenne always has been a hard worker in practice, but I’ve seen a lot of maturity and growth as she’s taken that leadership role,” Will said. “She has to fill those shoes.”
North is the three-time defending SouthWest Suburban Red champion. Looking to make it four straight, the Phoenix will have to count on more than just De Graff. They have more.
Senior Keriann Clarin, juniors Morgan Parkinson, Niki Beringer and Missy Wortel, sophomores Elyse Pratl and Alex Woehlert, and freshman Cassidy De Graff (Cheyenne’s sister) all will be counted on for a young but deep Phoenix team.
A season-opening team meeting produced a criminally simplistic goal: get better and cut time.
Outside distractions should not be a problem for this team.
“When people come in and want to work and get better, it makes practice easier and more fun,” Parkinson said. “When people don’t want to swim, it’s tough . So everyone is super-excited about the season.”
North held off Stagg last season to win the conference title while inching closer to a sectional title against rival and five-time champion Lincoln-Way East.
“We’ve got some girls willing to step up and fill in,” Will said. “Our ultimate goal is always conference, sectionals and see what you can do at state. We want to bring as many people there as possible, and Cheyenne has high hopes to medal in two events.”