The Ramblers finished fourth at the MCAC Championships, but they had the two best individuals at the league’s meet.
On Saturday at Illinois-Chicago, senior Shannon Kearney set a record in the 100-yard backstroke with her time of 55.46 seconds and earned the conference’s swimmer of the year. The day before at the diving portion, junior Emily Rourke finished first at Fenwick.
“Really cool for Shannon,” Loyola head coach Mike Hengelmann said. “She’s had a great career.”
Rosary won the team title with 419 points. The Beads were followed by St. Ignatius (352), Fenwick (333) and Loyola (314) at the 12-team meet.
Kearney’s distinction extended Loyola’s streak of winning the award to four swimmers in a row. Nathaniel Guenther, a 2017 graduate, won it as a senior, while Christopher Kearney, Shannon’s brother, and Ella Tierney both earned the honor in 2016.
Rourke kicked off the weekend by scoring 386.80 points to win the diving title. It was Loyola’s first diving title since her sister, Katie Rourke, placed first in 2014.
Loyola diving coach Tony D’Amico called Emily’s performance Friday the best 11-dive meet of her three-year career.
“Her dive mechanics were great,” he said. “Off the board, the way she finished. It’s been something I’ve harped on all season, and it all came together. She executed everything and didn’t miss a dive. You do that, and you will win most of the time. It was impressive.”
Kearney finished first in the backstroke, and her time broke Rosary graduate Mary Descenza’s record of 55.89 from 2001. Descenza, a 2002 graduate, later was a standout swimmer at University of Georgia and two-time participant at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
A North Carolina State commit, Kearney also took second in the 50 freestyle (24.23) and helped the 200 medley relay to third place (149.94) and the 200 free relay to fourth (1:39.96). On the medley, she was joined by seniors Cassidy Coughlin, Margaret Guanci and Sarah Pinkerton. Kearney swam with Coughlin, Guanci and junior Catherine Holecek on the 200 free.
The 400 free relay — featuring sophomores Molly Ball and Stephanie Udzielak, Holecek and Pinkerton — finished fourth (3:53.31).
Senior Lauren Voss was another swimmer who Hengelmann singled out Saturday. She placed fourth place in the 100 free (57.28) and 10th in the 100 breaststroke (1:14.89).
“We looked sharp, and we executed our races,” he said. “We feel good about going into the [the state series].”
Loyola competes Nov. 11 at the Glenbrook South Sectional.