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Belles earn 7th place at MIAA meet

Dan Tapetillo | Monday, February 23, 2004

Despite the overall finish, the Belles are still smiling.After finishing seventh at the MIAA Championships this season, Saint Mary’s still came away from the meet with several strong performances.As expected, Hope College won the conference title, collecting 587 points. Hope easily defeated its closest challengers, Calvin and Kalamazoo, to finish in second place. Poised to challenge conference rivals, Saint Mary’s performed well following Thursday’s portion of the competition ending the day in sixth place. However, the Belles never surpassed that rank and finished seventh after Friday’s portion of the meet. Great performances by several of the team’s swimmers are not accurately depicted just by glancing at times, such as how senior Megan Ramsey and sophomore Sarah Nowak both qualified for the finals in all three of their individual events. Ramsey earned a second place finish in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5 minutes, 14.22 seconds. She also finished fourth in the 100-yard butterfly and sixth in the 200-yard butterfly.”During the first day of competition, she [Ramsey] had a great feeling and took it out very well,” Saint Mary’s swimming coach Gregg Petcoff said. Nowak, after taking a semester abroad during the fall, swam in her first championship meet and earned the title of performer of the meet. She took third in the 200-yard breaststroke, fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke and eighth in the 200-yard individual medley.”[Nowak] hit great times this meet and even broke the school records in the 200-yard breaststroke and the 200 individual-medley,” Petcoff said. “She has just been a gift to have on this team.” Several other individuals swam competitive times, earning them a trip to the finals. Senior Maureen Palchak finished 11th in the 100-yard freestyle and senior Katy Lebiedz took 11th in the 200-yard breaststroke and ninth in the 100-yard breaststroke. Lebiedz’s younger sister, Bridget, also placed 10th in the 200-yard butterfly and ninth in the 100-yard butterfly. The only other swimmer to reach the finals was Julie McGranahan, who finished ninth in the 200-yard butterfly and 10th in the 100-yard butterfly.As the season came to a close for Saint Mary’s swimming, Petcoff had only one word to describe the team’s overall emotions – bittersweet.”It was great to finish the meet with great swims,” Petcoff said. “But I know that I am not going to have the honor of coaching six of these women again.” Despite the emotion circulating throughout the team, Petcoff is already looking towards next season in what he sees as a rebuilding year. Although the program will only have two seniors on its roster next year, top swimmers including Kelly Nelis and Nowak will be returning.”We’ve got a lot of work to do with recruiting,” Petcoff said. “But we certainly won’t be missing some of the star quality.

Dan Tapetillojtapetil@nd.edu