On the eve of the NFL Divisional playoffs, two-time defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champion Notre Dame Prep took a page out of the Baltimore Ravens' playbook by using the team's "next-man-up" philosophy to beat McDonogh, 98-72, Friday afternoon in Owings Mills.
Showing up without senior star Becca Meyers (concussion) and junior counterpart Dani Potis (club meet) , the Blazers (7-0) overcame pre-meet jitters to top the Eagles (3-4) for the fourth consecutive time during the regular season.
"We were nervous about not having them," said NDP star junior Kendall Krumenacker about her missing teammates. "But we had to pull it together as a team."
And coach Terri Byrd was grateful for some help from swimmers not usually in the limelight, including seniors Nicole Ricci and Liz Hampson and freshman Abby Merriman.
She also praised senior Nana Salvatori and Krumenacker for taking on more difficult assignments.
"Kendall and Nana had to have others filling in behind them, and they did," Byrd said.
Although McDonogh wasn't missing any of its star swimmers, illness has still plagued a team that fell to Mount de Sales, 93-77, earlier in the week.
That said, Byrd and the Blazers still feel that the only other team to win conference crowns — the Eagles captured nine consecutive titles from 2002-2010 — is always a threat in dual meets.
"We just need to get healthy," McDonogh coach Scott Ward said. "And we're relying on a lot of freshmen, so we're not quite the team we want to be yet. With one more good group of freshmen coming in, we might be able to challenge a team as good as NDP."
Krumenacker not only won the 200-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke, she also anchored the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays, while Katie McComas swept the 50 and 100 freestyles.
McDonogh's 200 medley relay prevailed with Sydney Kligys, Geordie Enoch, Isabella McElrath and Emily Wilhelm. Enoch touched first in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke, while Amanda Chabbot took the 500 freestyle.