Girls Swimming: Naperville North primed for run at state
BY NEIL SHALIN For Sun-Times Media September 10, 2012 8:00PM
Senior swimmers (from left) Michelle Law, Becca Bogle, Anna Williams and Amy Novak are ready to lead Naperville North this season. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:24PM
Three seasons ago four swimmers entered Naperville North hailed as one of the best freshman classes the school had seen in years.
Becca Bogle, Michelle Law, Amy Novak and Anna Williams were long-time friends who trained at the same club and were so talented that they were dubbed “the Fab Four.”
The fast times they produced during their freshman season even increased expectations
And they had different specialties.
With Law in the backstroke, Bogle in the breaststroke, Willliams doing the butterfly and Novak anchoring as the freestyle sprinter, they seemed destined to be the perfect medley relay team.
But then things started to unravel.
Toward the end of her freshman season, Law developed a problem with her shoulder and then she was ill with during the week before sectionals.
And while she has participated on a pair of medley relays that finished top 12 at state, she still hasn’t qualified in an individual event.
“After that freshman year, I think I lost confidence when I swam my individual events,” Law said. “I just didn’t think I had the luck for sectionals and state and that seemed to hold me back. It was a hurdle I had to get over.”
As a freshman, Williams swam the fly on the medley relay team that finished seventh at state, and she was surely on track to be a perennial individual qualifier.
But, early in her sophomore year Williams, who already had the state cut in the fly, suffered a back injury, and was forced to shut down.
While she was looking for a solution to the back problem and then getting treatment, Williams also missed her junior year of swimming for Naperville North.
Kristy Holben, who took over the Huskies coaching reins when the girls were sophomores didn’t know if she’d ever have Williams on her team again.
“Anna is a versatile swimmer,” Holben said. “If she wasn’t injured, she could have qualified for state in a number of events.”
Bogle swam the breaststroke at sectionals her freshman year and fell just short of qualifying, but in her second year she was a member of the 200 freestyle relay that finished seventh at state.
“Becca is another one who could have been an early scorer, but she had a knee issue her entire sophomore season and she had therapy to try to work through it,” said Holben. “She was never fully healthy at sectionals or state that year.”
As a junior, Bogle qualified for state in the 100 breaststroke, but didn’t make it to the finals. She did, however, swim the breaststroke on the medley relay team that finished eighth, and she was also a member of the state 200 free relay.
And finally Novak, the sprinter, went on to fulfill her promise, as she qualified for state in the 50 free but didn’t final her freshman year. She was also on the two free relays that made state.
Novak came back with an impressive sophomore season finishing fourth in state in the 50 freestyle, and also swam on all three relays, two of which made top 12.
She was established as one of the top sprinters in the state.
But then she decided to skip her junior year of high school swimming.
“She needed a break,” said Holben. “There’s a lot of pressure that goes with being a top varsity athlete at the very highest levels. It would have been awesome to have her on the team last year. But she’s back for her senior year and swimming as great as ever.”
Despite the time missed and the injuries, the Huskies have finished in or near the top ten at state the past three years, due in part, because they had other outstanding swimmers such as Michelle’s older sister Jen Law, who graduated.
Also, two more members of what now is the senior class have come along.
Rachel Prorok developed into one of the best breaststrokers in Illinois, qualifying twice and finishing sixth last year.
And the emergence of another senior Marissa Anderson gives the Huskies a pair of solid senior sprinters. Anderson was a member of the 200 free relay team at state last year.
Now, members of the Fab Four Plus Two are all in place as one of the best senior classes anywhere, and the girls are ready to make this year count.
“We’re all working hard to make this year a big finale,” said Bogle. “We’re confident we can all score in our strokes and we can get all three relays through, because we also have a group of talented underclassmen who are challenging for spots on the relays. We’re all competing against each other and cheering each other on.”
Holben thinks the competition provided by the younger girls can make the relays better.
“The younger kids can take the relays to a whole new level,” said Holben. “We have great depth so we’ll have a lot of options at the end of the year.”
The coach thinks it would be awesome if the team could equal or top 2010’s ninth-place finish at state. But her seniors are not hearing of it.
“We have the talent and the motivation,” said Law, who is training better than ever, and looks as though she’s ready for that big year.
“Everyone has positive energy and we’re pushing out the negative thoughts. We think we can finish in the top five.”
And the original Fab Four is hanging on to the possibility that it can finally reunite to swim that medley relay at state.