Updated: February 8, 2013 6:13AM
Six schools that were in the 2012 state swimming meet will head the field Friday and Saturday at the 52nd Sandburg Invitational.
The host Eagles, Naperville Central, Champaign Central, Fenwick, Oak Park and Marmion are expected to be the top teams.
“It provides us a chance for our relays and our top individuals to challenge themselves against some of the best our state has to offer,’’ Sandburg coach Jim Caliendo said.
That includes Homewood-Flossmoor’s Kevin Kuchta, a state qualifier last season in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
Sandburg won the meet the past two years. Caliendo said top Eagle swimmers Trevor Winans, Mike O’Malley, David Apps and Conor Gallimore will “face stiff competition in their events’’
“This is the final big meet before February, so it’s time to get it right,’’ Caliendo said. “I am looking forward to (seeing) how we can match up.’’
In other meets Saturday, Andrew and Lockport will be at Riverside-Brookfield, Lincoln-Way North will be at the St. Charles East Invitational and Lincoln-Way East will race at the Glenbrook South Relays.
Lincoln-Way North’s Kayla O’Brien finished second in Saturday’s Bengal Bowling Invite at Oak Forest Bowl, posting a six-game total pinfall of 1,310.
“I kind of just tried to have fun,” she said. “I just wanted to keep going strong.
O’Brien led the tournament after four games, but was overtaken by Sandburg’s Nicole Powell entering the final game. With the two bowling side-by-side, Powell’s 201 in the final game was enough to hold off O’Brien.
“She’s one of my friends, so it was OK to lose to her,” O’Brien said.
The Phoenix took third as a team, behind only defending state champion Andrew and Plainfield North.
“I think we did really good,” O’Brien said. “We were only under 900 twice.”
Marissa Jones (13th, 1,110), Jamie DeRuiter (15th, 1,097) and Katie Utsch (19th, 1,090) all joined O’Brien in the top 20 for the Phoenix.
“We’re definitely coming together,” O’Brien said. “From the beginning of the season until now, we’ve improved so much already.”
Meanwhile, the tournament was a preview for several local teams that will compete in the Bremen Sectional at Oak Forest Bowl.
“The more we play here, the more it will help us understand the lanes,” Powell said.
With Nuntreae Jackson and Rudy Yates, Brother Rice has a pair capable of making extended postseason runs.
Jackson, a state qualifier last season, is considered one of the best 160-pounders in the state. The senior took first at Buffalo Grove and second at Hinsdale Central, dropping a tough 6-5 decision to top-ranked Davonte Mahomes of Oak Park-River Forest.
Yates, a freshman, already has Hinsdale Central and Buffalo Grove titles to his name. He currently stands as the premier wrestler at 106-pounds after downing Rich Central’s Jabary Moody, the top 106-pounder in Class 2A.
Marist has one of the busiest and most daunting schedules in the state, but junior Mario Leveille believes the Redhawks practice room can be just as tough as any match, if not more.
“Whenever you go live (in practice), your facing a top guy in the state,” Leveille said. “Almost every guy on our team is ranked in the state. That helps in big matches.”
While some of his teammates have garnered more recognition, Lincoln-Way Central’s Bryce Gorman is quietly having a strong season. The junior recently placed third at the loaded Granite City Invitational.
“I’m just really looking to qualify for state and possibly medal,” Gorman said.
Rich Central’s coed squad won Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association state titles in 2008, 2010 and 2011 but failed to win one last year.
The Olympians, however, did win an Illinois High School Association coed title in 2012 as the seven girls and seven boys who made up the squad scored a 91 to make up for not winning the ICCA event. They won the IHSA championship in come-from-behind fashion after trailing Grant in the preliminary rounds.
Rich Central will try to win state gold again in the ICCA and will be one of the headlining teams to compete in an invitational meet hosted by Andrew at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Teams at the Andrew event will be able to qualify for the ICCA state championships Feb. 9-10 at the Prairie state Convention center in Springfield.
Rich Central and Thornwood are two area schools that will battle in the coed division.
Several other area schools will descend in Tinley Park for this event.
In the large-school division, Andrew, T.F. South, Homewood-Flossmoor, and Richards will compete.
In the medium-school division, Illiana Christian will try for a state tournament bid. In the small-school division, Beecher has entered the invitational.