Sarah Klawitter, Evergreen Park. Fall sports photo day at Andrew High School in Tinley Park, Illinois, Sunday, November 18, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
Updated: January 17, 2014 6:32AM
Taking over for Bruce Scholtens, who retired, new Evergreen Park coach Ron Pula knows he inherited a talented squad.
The Mustangs have the pieces in place to win their third straight South Suburban Red title.
“This team has won the conference championship the last two years and we have every hope to repeat that accomplishment,” Pula said. “There are six returning members from last year’s team. With their experience and some hard work, we have high expectations of advancing to the state finals this year.”
Leading the way are seniors Sarah Klawitter and Elan Page.
“I have high expectations that this will be their best season yet as they’ve worked very hard to improve their individual games since last season,” Pula said. “Sarah may have set the bar for the team as a whole when she bowled her first 300 game during the first game of our tryouts.”
Klawitter and Page have started the season strong. In a 1,686-1,538 win over Hillcrest, Klawitter fired a 235 and Page posted a 449 two-game series.
In a 1,635-1,374 win over Oak Lawn, Page shot 213 and 219 for a 432 series while Klawitter posted a 237 game and 416 series.
Led by three-time sectional champion Kyle Fitzgerald, Andrew returns most of the team that placed second at the Lincoln-Way North Sectional.
Fitzgerald won the 100-yard freestyle at the sectional and swam on the first-place 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
The depth starts with Zach Rentner, who also returns from both freestyle relays. Then add returnees Michael Tamulonis from the 400 relay and Danny Cavato from the 200 relay.
“It’s looking real good,’’ said coach Frank Muchna, whose experienced squad hosts Lincoln-Way West on Monday in a dual meet.
With a team Muchna said has “a good, solid core,’’ Andrew could be headed for its best season in his 10 years as coach.
Other key dates before the state series include the Jan. 3 Lincoln-Way North Invitational and a Jan. 23 dual meet at Lincoln-Way North.
The Feb. 8 SouthWest Suburban Red Meet also is at North, the defending conference champion.
Plenty of changes are in store this year.
The Southwest Suburban Conference has just four full teams and three of them have new coaches.
Lincoln-Way co-op’s Skip Adamson is gone and has been replaced by Kim Lago. Lago is assisted by Allison Hack, who was Andrew’s head coach last year. Hack, who will also be the head boys coach at Lincoln-Way next spring, was replaced by Sarah Thompson at Andrew.
At Homewood-Flossmoor, Carrie Kliver replaced Kathryn Stolzenbach.
Sandburg’s Mike White, who has been coaching at the Orland Park school since the 1991-92 campaign, is the only coach from the conference who is back.
When the season ends, there will also be a new individual conference champion in what looks like a wide-open field.
Lincoln-Way’s Kaila Pohrte, who unseated three-time champion Jamie Valla of Andrew last year, is not expected to defend her all-around title after suffering an ACL injury two months ago.