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1977 Swimming Team (2004)

On the heels of league and district titles the previous season, hopes were high that the 1977 edition of Loyola Academy swimming could match that accomplishment and perhaps improve on an 18th place at state. Led by its esteemed coach, the late Terry Townsend, the 1972 Swimming and Diving Team did just that, repeating as Chicago Catholic League and IHSA District champions before riding the wave to a fifth-place finish at the state finals. In the process, the team reserved its rightful place in the pantheon of Loyola Academy swimming. With leadership provided by senior tri-captains Matt Nora, Chip Boedicker, and John Nicolau, the Ramblers posted a solid 9-2 dual meet record as they prepared for the postseason. Joining Boedicker, Nicolau, and Nora in leading the charge were seniors John Mitchell, Bill Donohoe, and Patrick Murphy as well as Joe LaJoie, Jim Ferstel, Mark Menis, Paul Hulseman, Mike Fillippini, Tom Hoffman, John Skowron, Stephen Baas, John Glunz, John Kohl, Herbert Gresens, and Joe Jekot. Coach Townsend's training regimen was focused squarely on the state meet. All other meets, including the league and district championship, served as more preludes to the big show. Accordingly, he made no attempt to peak for the Catholic League meet. Win or lose, the IHSA meet was the season. In one of the most dramatic championship meets in the history of the Chicago Catholic League, Loyola snatched its second straight crown from perennial power and archrival Fenwick, taking the title by a single point. With three events remaining, a tired Rambler team had added up the points, and their projections left little chance that Loyola would prevail. Fenwick's ace, breaststroker Jim Barron, was number one in the state, and his anticipated victory in the 100-yard breaststroke would be decisive. However, a confident Chip Boedicker had other ideas, and stunned Fenwick and the crowd with a victory over the eventual state champion to tilt the title Loyola's way. On the following weekend, the Ramblers tuned up for state with their third straight IHSA District title. Coach Townsend brought his men to the state meet fit and ready, their taper perfectly timed. The Ramblers swam their best meet of the year, and their top five finish demonstrated to the Illinois swimming world that Loyola Academy was back. In individual races, the Ramblers were led by Boedicker's second in the 100-yard breaststroke and junior Joe LaJoie's second in the 200-yard freestyle (LaJoie took the title in 1978, setting a new state record in the process). LaJoie (Hall of Fame, 1985) added a third place in the 500-yard free, Loyola's only individual placer in two individual events. Junior Jim Ferstel took third in the 50-yard free and senior John Nicolau's twenty-second place in the 200-yard individual medley closed out the Rambler contributions in individual races. The 200-yard Medley relay team — Junior backstroker Mark Menis (Hall of Fame, 1998), Boedicker, Ferstel, and freshman butterflyer Joe Jekot (Hall of Fame, 2004), placed fifth, while the 400-yard freestyle relay team — Ferstel, Boedicker, LaJoie, and Mitchell — finished sixth to close out the scoring. The 1977 Swimming and Diving Team had scratched its way back to the upper echelon of Illinois swimming. Through long hours of labor and sacrifice, the team had dreamed the dream, and then had made it become a reality.

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