December 22, 2014

Elyria
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H.S. Swimming: Avon’s Erin Pettegrew, Rachel Stark relying on experience as postseason begins

Avon’s Erin Pettegrew competes in the butterfly Saturday during the EC Pentathlon at Oberlin College. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Avon’s Erin Pettegrew competes in the butterfly at a meet at Oberlin College. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Junior Erin Pettegrew and sophomore Rachel Stark of Avon have been through the battles. They understand the stakes. The pair is going through its final tune-up this week for Saturday’s Division I sectional meet at Lakewood High.

“Since I have two years behind me going into this I know better what to expect,” said Pettegrew, a two-time district qualifier in the 100 fly. “With all the training we’ve had we know how to train for this. Many of my teammates are tapering for sectionals. I, however, am not. I’m going to taper for districts (Feb. 15, at Cleveland State). A few of my other teammates are doing that.”

The delayed taper is a worthy gamble.

Rachel Stark of Avon competes in the backstroke earlier this year.

Rachel Stark of Avon competes in the backstroke earlier this year.

Pettegrew barely missed a state ticket last year, taking fourth at the Bowling Green district in the 100 fly (58.79). It was a remarkable performance considering she was relegated to physical therapy and land training instead of pool training two or three days per week because of a shoulder problem.

“I’m still very, very nervous about sectionals,” Pettegrew said. “I don’t ever want to be comfortable with a meet. I don’t think that’s a good way to go. There’s always a chance I could have a bad race and not even make it to districts. I’m just hoping with the great competition I have that they push me fast enough without being tapered to a good seed and good lane for districts.

“I tapered for sectionals freshman year because my coach (Sarah Anders) didn’t know if any of us had a chance of making districts. Last year, because of my shoulder, I was literally tapered the whole year because I was only going two or three practices a week. This year taper is going to be a lot more important for me because I’m so exhausted and I’m not used to being so exhausted at this point of the season. That’s why my coach is trying to hold off to see how well my taper is from sectionals to districts.”

Stark was a 2013 district qualifier in the 200 free and 100 free. She’s also looking to raise her performance level.

“We’ve been working especially hard, particularly on our starts and turns, to give us a fighting shot at having even more kids at districts than we had last year,” Stark said. “Last year, we had a record amount qualify. With Rocky River moving back to Division I from Division II, it’s more competition. It’s better for us.”

Pettegrew and Stark will also try to qualify as members of the 200 medley and 400 free relays.

“We’re a better team,” Stark said. “We’re more of a family. Our coaches are working very hard with our different strokes, correcting our weaknesses and developing our strengths. We’re improving where we need to improve.

“I’ve added more dry-land training to my regimen and done more double workouts this year, usually at least three days a week. It’s developed my strength and endurance.”

Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

Swimmers of the week
Kevin McCaffrey, Elyria Catholic
Year: Junior
Last week: McCaffrey is Elyria Catholic’s first West Shore Conference swim champ — boy or girl — since EC joined the WSC for the 2011-12 season. McCaffrey won the 100 breast (1:07.31) and was third in the 200 IM (2:13.06) at the WSC meet Jan. 29 at Lakewood High. His time was 2.31 seconds faster in the 100 breast and 7.53 seconds faster in the IM from last year’s WSC meet, where he placed second and fourth.
Other sports: Cross country, track
Bio: He was a Division II district swim qualifier in the 200 IM last year. He earned varsity letters in all three of his sports and was the swim team MVP as a sophomore. His club swim team is CLE Swimming. McCaffrey is a three-time Division II All-Lorain County runner and a member of last year’s regional-qualifying team. His dad, Sean, was a runner in high school for Padua. Uncles Gary, Tom and Bob Schmidt were members of Elyria Catholic track and cross country teams in the 1970s. McCaffrey enjoys pickup games of basketball and video games like “Call of Duty.” He has a 3.0 grade-point average.
Parents: Sean and Sherrie

Julia Tollett, Elyria Catholic
Year: Freshman
Last week: Tied for second in the 500 free (5:38.92) and third in the 200 free (2:06.77) at the WSC meet. Both were personal-record times. Tollett dropped five seconds in the 500 free and about a second in the 200 free.
Bio: Her club team is the Vermilion Y Torpedoes. She enjoys traveling, and her favorite vacation spots are Yellowstone Park, Montana and the Florida Keys. Tollett enjoys watching scary movies with her friends.
Parents: Phil and Kathy