Title talk: Libby Jardeleza is one of seven girls from the 2014 girls swimming and diving team that captured the state championship who continued her athletic career in college.
A junior swimmer at University of Pennsylvania, Jardeleza (pictured above) was a team captain for the Ramblers, who remain the only boys or girls swimming and diving team at the school to win a state title. Loyola won every dual meet and invitational that season.
Despite no individual state champion, the Ramblers finished first at Evanston. The 400-yard free relay — featuring Olivia Andrew, Maria Kyle, Ella Tierney, Grace Tierney — won a state title. Grace Tierney, a junior swimmer at Wisconsin, also was a captain.
The others who still play sports include: Kyle (sophomore swimmer at Emory), Claire Voss (sophomore swimmer at San Diego State), Andrew (freshman swimmer at UCLA), Ella Tierney (freshman swimmer at Texas), and Claire Rushin (lacrosse defender at Harvard).
“We all still talk a little bit,” Jardeleza said. “It’s usually around sectionals and state meet and during breaks. We like to get updates on the teams.”
Majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish and legal studies, Jardeleza swims the 100 and 200 butterfly and the 100 and 200 backstroke at Penn. At the Nov. 30-Dec. 2 Tennessee Invitational in Knoxville, she set a personal-best time in the 200 fly. She said one of her goals is to help the Quakers finish third or better at the Feb. 15-17 Ivy League Championships at Harvard. Penn has never done better than fourth at the league meet.
The 2014 team was the first senior class Loyola head coach Mike Hengelmann was with for all four years.
“It was a deep and well-rounded team,” he said. “Everybody played a role. That season went by so quickly. Man, that seems like ages ago.”
Loyola senior and TCU-bound Cassidy Coughlin was a freshman contributor on the team, swimming on the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay, both of which finished fifth.
New year, new goals: Growing up, Bobby Walker dreamed of being a scholarship football player for a Big Ten team.
He got part of his wish when he became a walk-on for Illinois after graduating Loyola in 2015. The dream was completed Christmas Day after head coach Lovie Smith informed the redshirt sophomore tight end he will be on scholarship for his final two seasons in Champaign. Walker celebrated the good news with his mom, Anne Walker, dad, Bob Walker, and three siblings (Jack, Lizzie, Caroline).
“I’ve achieved two big things so far,” Walker said. “Now, my goal is to make a name for myself in the Big Ten.”
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Walker played in all 12 games last season and caught his first career pass Sept. 29 against Nebraska. His playing time increased for the final three games, which Walker said he hopes is a sign of things to come.
“It had been a waiting game for me,” he said. “But I’m thinking I have a good shot at earning a bigger role going forward.”
Photo courtesy of University of Pennsylvania