Boys swimming: Optimism abounds at Lockport
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media November 22, 2012 10:36PM
Seniors Jake Knowles (left), Tyler Pastore (center) and Dan Oldendorf are the top three individuals on Lockport's 2012-13 swimming team. | Tim Tierney~For Sun-Times Media
Lockport: No. 1 swimmer Jake Knowles, along with Dan Oldendorf and diver Tyler Pastore, lead a senior-dominated team that’s expecting a very good season.
Lincoln-Way East: Andy Gramont is the leader back from the team that finished second to Sandburg in the SouthWest Suburban Blue.
Lincoln-Way Central: Cody Moris in the backstroke and diver Ryan Kojder are returning state qualifiers for the Knights.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Lincoln-Way West: Kurt Butterfield
Providence: Dominic Azar
Lemont: Justin Stanwyck, Lemont
Morris: Jacob Beaudin
Updated: December 24, 2012 6:55AM
Unlike the start of the 2011-12 season, when Lockport had to deal with some key graduation losses, the Porters are loaded and ready to fire on all cylinders this season with an experienced squad.
“This is probably the strongest group I’ve had in a while,’’ Lockport coach Grant Ferkaluk said as he starts his 10th season. “There’s a lot of potential, a lot of raw talent that needs to be tapped into, and I think we can do that.’’
Jake Knowles in the 100-yard breaststroke and 100 freestyle was a sectional champion in both events. He leads a senior-heavy team that’s also expecting a lot from returning state qualifiers Dan Oldendorf and diver Tyler Pastore.
It’s a trio Ferkaluk calls “our stars.’’
“I think we have all the capabilities to win the sectional meet,’’ Knowles said. “It will be tough between us and Sandburg.
“It’s a really strong team this year. We had a good team last year. This year is going to be maybe one of the best Lockport has ever had in the boys season.’’
Knowles is healthy to start his senior year compared with 2011 when he suffered two broken hands in a long-boarding accident six weeks before the season. Ferkaluk said Knowles recovered well after being behind when he joined the team a week into the season.
“He keeps getting better,’’ Ferkaluk said. “We’re looking for him to really step up in his two events.’’
The same for Oldendorf, who was a sectional champion in the 200 freestyle and runner-up in the 500 free.
“Last year we were kind of recovering from a really good team the year before,’’ Oldendorf said. “This is one of the deepest teams we’ve ever had.’’
Pastore returns as a two-time state qualifier in diving and believes he “made a lot of improvements.”
“Over the past summer I started diving all year round so I’m able to come into the season trying to place at state,’’ he said.
Providing Lockport with plenty of depth and relay strength will be Jake Gillis, John Goetz, Brandon Witsaman and Jake Elias.
“Each one of them wants to see their name up on that record board,’’ Ferkaluk said. “They want to see their picture on the wall outside. And they want to stand at the state meet and get a medal for Lockport.
“That’s what’s really cool — they don’t want to do it just for themselves. They’re all about Lockport. That’s how your success builds.’’
The season starts with a Dec. 4 dual at Lincoln-Way North. After the Dec. 8 West Chicago Invitational, the Porters have a dual Dec. 13 with longtime rival Sandburg.
Another measuring stick comes Jan. 5 against defending state champion New Trier and other top teams at the Evanston Invitational, which Ferkaluk calls “a mini state meet.’’
“Kids believing in the system and dedicating themselves, being dedicated to this three-month season for 12 months,’’ Ferkaluk said of what it takes to reach the state level.
“When they’re committed to that and you have a strong senior leadership who gets these guys rallied up, my job becomes easy because they come in so hungry. All I’ve got to do is be here to motivate. They do the rest.’’