Mount St. Joe freshman Elise Smigiel, a Norwood Fontbonne Academy grad, placed third in the breast stroke to contribute to the Magic’s meet victory last Thursday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

The Mount St. Joseph swim team leveled its season record at 2-2 last Thursday afternoon, using its team depth to top host Wissahickon High School, 97-88.

All of the Magic’s meets so far this season have taken place on the road against large suburban public schools; their scheduled league debut against Nazareth Academy in early January was postponed due to a weather-related school closure.

Last Thursday Mount senior Taylor Draganosky won the 200 yard individual medley and the 100 yard breast stroke and freshman Maggie Mikalic triumphed in the 500 yard freestyle. A month earlier, Draganosky set a new school record in the breast stroke and Mikalic broke the old Mount mark in the 200 free.

Although Wissahickon won the other six individual events and two of the three relay races last week, the Mount stacked up points by accumulating seven second-place finishes and 11 third-place performances.

“That’s the way we usually do it, and this year I feel we’re also getting stronger up top,” remarked head coach Janet Pudlinski, now in her 17th season at the helm of MSJ aquatics. “We have a number of freshmen who are already contributing. MaryKate Leonard wasn’t here today, but Maggie Mikalic won the 500 free and was third in the 200 free. Elise Smigiel, Sydney McKernan, Maura Scanlon, Olivia Guza – they’re all doing well. They’re a nice, hardworking bunch of kids. Also one of our divers, Maddie Donahue, is a freshman, and she picked up four points for us today.”

This season Pudlinski is being assisted by former Mount St. Joe swimmer Dana Zielinski (’12), who was also a rowing standout for the Magic.

In Wissahickon’s new pool, the Mounties began with a victory in the 200 yard medley relay with a time of one minute, 54.41 seconds. Junior Bryn McLaughlin led it off, followed by Draganosky, junior Hailey Goodyear and sophomore Kristen O’Connor. In third place in the event (in 1:59.08) was a team consisting of by McKernan, Smigiel (a Norwood Fontbonne Academy grad), senior Rebecca Patti and sophomore Holly Householder.

The host Trojans got back within two points in the meet score (16-14) with a one-two finish in the 200 freestyle, where the Mount’s Mikalic placed third in 2:03.33.

This was followed by Draganosky’s victory in the I.M. (2:14.98), where O’Connor came in third in 2:21.19. In the 50 yard freestyle, MSJ senior Jen DeGroat placed second in 25.63 seconds and McKernan was third in 26.53.

The diving competition had actually been held ahead of schedule while a scoreboard malfunction was being rectified, and with Donahue’s four points there, the Magic were leading 40-37 at the end of five events.

The butterfly yielded another first-place outcome for the Trojans, but once again second and third went to Mount St. Joseph thanks to the closely-spaced Goodyear (1:03.46) and Patti (1:03.93). It was much the same story in the 100 free, where the runner-up was MSJ’s DeGroat in 55.44 seconds and where third place was secured in a time of 57.52 by junior Shayne McKernan, the older sister of Sydney.

After Mikalic won the 500 free (5:18.27) and O’Connor captured third (5:44.96), the Magic had widened the gap between themselves and their hosts, now leading 66-59.

A victory in the 200 free relay got the Trojans back within five, though.

In second at 1:44.15 (not far off the winning time of 1:43.45) was the Mount foursome of DeGroat, Householder, Mikalic and Shayne McKernan. Third went to the Magic’s Scanlon, O’Connor, Guza and sophomore Sarah Collins in 1:50.36.

Sydney McKernan and McLaughlin, close together at 1:05.41 and 1:05.89, gave Mount St. Joseph its reliable two-three performance in the back stroke, and then Draganosky won the last individual race, the breast stroke (107.72). Here, Smigiel was third in 1:13.50.

In the concluding event, the 400 yard freestyle relay, Wissahickon got back two team points with a victory in 3:44.90, but at this stage the Mount could afford to give them up, still winning by nine.

Runners-up in the final relay were DeGroat, O’Connor, Shayne McKernan and Mikalic (3:45.48), and third place went to Goodyear, Householder, Patti and Draganosky (4:01.51).

Looking ahead to the Catholic Academies meets, Coach Pudlinski said, “Villa Maria will be very strong, as always, and Gwynedd and Nazareth will be very competitive, so we’ll need every point we can get.”

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