Girls Swimming: Amanda Moran leads deep Lockport
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media August 16, 2012 10:00PM
Lockport's Amanda Moran during girls swimming practice Tuesday, August 13, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Girls Swimming 2012
TEAMS TO WATCH
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.
Lincoln-Way West: Now-graduated diver Kaitlyn Neiheisel finished second in state last season to become the first West swimmer/diver to win a state medal, but the talent remains for the Warriors. Seniors Emily Gallagher and Alexis Skiniotes (diving) both are shooting for their third state appearances.
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?
Caroline Kelly, Plainfield Central co-op: Last season in the ridiculously fast Neuqua Valley Sectional, Kelly was one of nine state qualifiers in the 100-yard breaststroke. She finished 41st overall at state and looks to build on that performance in her junior season.
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:18AM
Lockport’s Amanda Moran cannot help but look ahead a little bit.
Having been around the varsity program for two years, the junior and her teammates can see the potential for down the road.
Then there’s Moran’s other train of thought. Why wait for next year?
“We’ve got a lot of girls coming in for next year, my senior year,” Moran said at a recent practice. “But last year we proved we can do what we set out to do. This year, I think we can do whatever we put our minds to. We have the tools to do it so I think we can get there.”
Whatever the Porters accomplish this season, Moran figures to be at the front of the line. As a sophomore, she finished fifth in the state in the 100-yard backstroke, and also qualified in the 100-yard butterfly.
Moran has not eased up even a little since achieving success at state. If anything, she has ratcheted up her training. The junior spent her offseason working with her club team, the Academy Bullets, and is ready to start the high school season on a tear.
“It’s easier going to state and getting back than going there for the first time,” Moran said. “You know what you have to do to swim better, and I definitely want to do better, swim faster and place higher.”
The potential for improvement is there. As a freshman at the sectional meet, Moran failed to qualify for state by just .2 of a second, or as she explains it, “literally a fingernail.”
She came back with a vengeance her sophomore season and is poised to improve from there.
“Her potential is endless,” Lockport coach Grant Ferkaluk said. “She’s getting faster, and she’s willing to step up and lead in the pool with that little bit of goofiness you need to succeed. Amanda has every opportunity to do something at the state meet, and she’s having fun. That can be the most important thing.”
With the state meet almost three months away, Moran keeps on practicing with a simple mantra: Don’t settle. Keep improving.
“I don’t want to be the person that does really well and then tails off and falls back to where they were before,” Moran said. “I’m always working hard to get to that next level.”
While Moran might have the name recognition, Ferkaluk is carrying 18 swimmers on the varsity, giving him a deeper lineup than usual.
Seniors Christine Bafia, Teige Ballweber, Alyssa Black and Michelle Johnson and junior Abby Loughran all figure to be key contributors both individually and on Lockport’s relay teams.
“We always look to the end,” Ferkaluk said. “We can give a run at the sectional title. No guarantees, but we can do that.
“At state, I think we’ve got some ability in relays, and (can) take a shot at a top 12 finish with Amanda leading the way.”