Masuk swimmers ready for SWC challenge

Although his team suffered a close loss to end the dual-meet season, Masuk High swim coach Tom Harkins thinks the Panthers’ recent success has them primed for a strong conference championship performance.

“The guys are swimming well, working hard,” said Harkins. “Guys are swimming personal-bests. We just have to keep working hard.”

In all, Masuk — which finished sixth in the conference regular-season standings — has qualified 16 swimmers for the South-West Conference championship meet, which it will host this Friday at 5 p.m.

Harkins believes that if enough of his swimmers achieve personal-bests, the Panthers could definitely pass a couple of teams that finished ahead of them in the standings.

“I expect the team to do extremely well,” said Harkins, adding that, for the first time in a few years, Masuk could earn points yesterday from its divers, juniors Omar Al-Hamwy and Hunter Sevc.

The Panthers will enter the SWCs led by a strong group of underclassmen. Five freshmen have qualified for the conference meet: Joey Nizzardo will be swimming the 200 free and 500 free; Aidan Lein the 200 IM and 100 fly; Matt Hull the 50 free and 100 free; Ryan Cammarano the 100 free and 100 breast; and Mike Aiello the 200 IM and 100 fly.

Sophomore Kyle Anderson will swim the 200 free and 500 free, with classmate Will Briand swimming the 100 free and 100 back, and fellow sophomores Andrew Kanjo (100 breast) and Karma Vijay (50 free, 100 free) also competing.

Representing the junior class are James O’Shaughnessy in the 200 IM and the 100 breast; Peyton Sullivan in the 50 free and 100 back; and Zack Thornton in the 50 free and 100 free.

For the Masuk seniors, Riley Bachard will swim the 200 IM and 100 fly; Matt Pearson the 200 free and 100 back; Jordan Vaglivelo the 50 free and 100 back; and captain DJ Wheeler the 200 free and 100 fly.

All three Masuk relays — the 200 medley, 200 free, and 400 free — are also qualified. Harkins said he will name the relay swimmers on the day of the championships.

Panthers drop final regular-season meet

Following five straight dual-meet wins, Masuk lost to conference powerhouse Weston, 95-85, in the final regular-season meet for both teams last Tuesday.

The Panthers were limited to only four first-places finishes against “an incredibly fast team,” according to Harkins.

Masuk’s 200 medley relay team of Briand, O’Shaughnessy, Aiello, and Hull placed first with a time of 1:47.55. Also winning events were Briand in the 100 free (51.85); Thornton, Aiello, Hull, and Wheeler in the 200 free relay (1:40.59); and Bachard, Nizzardo, Briand, and Wheeler in the 400 free relay (3:47.63).

Nizzardo beat his own school record in the 500 free, with a time of 4:56.04, but still finished second. Nizzardo also placed second in the 200 free with a time of 1:55.24.

In the 50 free — in which Masuk has enjoyed top finishes all season — Hull placed third (23.62) and Thornton fifth (24.56).

“(Weston’s swimmers) were fast, really fast,” said Harkins.

Other top performers from last Tuesday’s meet for Masuk were Lein (second in the 100 back and the 200 IM), Bachard (third in the 200 IM), Hull (third in the 100 free), Thornton (fourth in the 100), and Vaglivelo, who returned from battling injuries to qualify for SWCs in the 100 back with a time of 1:11.11.

Masuk also earned second-place finishes in the 200 free relay — the team of O’Shaughnessy, Pearson, Cammarano, and Nizzardo — and the 400 free relay — the team of Sullivan, Vaglivelo, Lein, and Cammarano.

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