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Pekular caps off strong season with Wheeling Jesuit swimming

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 7:23 p.m.
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Danielle Pekular

Danielle Pekular just wanted to help the Wheeling Jesuit college swim team find success during her freshman season.

The success couldn't be any greater as the team captured conference championships last week.

The Cardinals men and women's team finished in first place at the Appalachian Swimming Conference Championships. The Wheeling Jesuit women's squad took the gold at the championships with 562 points, besting Brenau (519) and Notre Dame College (501).

“Coming in as a freshman, I just wanted to help the team as much as I could,” the Bishop Canevin grad said. “Wheeling Jesuit is a much bigger team than what I came from. My teammates have been very supportive and I have gotten better time-wise than where I was in high school.”

Pekular helped set a Wheeling Jesuit record in the 400-yard freestyle relay as she and teammates Paige Carpenetti, Meghan Ebbert and Anna Davis finished in third place with a time of 3:37.90.

She also helped the 200 medley relay team finish in second place along with teammates Ebbert, Maria Palmquist and Taylor Suserstic with a time of 1:49.43.

Pekular also finished in fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:00.24), sixth in the 200 backstroke (2:12.98) and 10th in the 50 freestyle (25.11).

The ASC is a NCAA Division II conference and is home to teams from Ohio to Georgia, including Asbury College, Berea College, Berry College, Brenau University, King College, LaGrange College, Malone University, Mars Hill College, Milligan College, Notre Dame College, Union College, Urbana University, Ursuline College, Warren Wilson College and Wheeling Jesuit.

The strong performance was an exclamation point on Pekular's freshman season. Pekular helped the women's team begin the season with a strong showing at the West Virginia State Games.

Held on the campus of West Virginia University, the Cardinals finished in third behind only the Division I Mountaineers and Marshall. Pekular finished in fourth place in the 100 backstroke at the event, not to mention second with the 200 freestyle relay team and fourth with the 400 yard medly relay team.

The team then finished the regular season with a 5-2 record.

Pekular said the biggest thing she had to overcome was the more serious nature of college swimming. Coming from Bishop Canevin, the Crusaders do not have a home pool and the practice schedule can be eratic.

“In high school, everyone is doing the same practice,” Pekular said. “But in college it is more specific and difficult.

“Also, we lift weights in the morning which we didn't do much in high school. It is a much different environment.”

But Pekular said her greatest growth in her approach to her events. Instead of feeling nervous before a race, she is now looking forward to the competition.

“I know I have become more confident in my races,” Pekular said. “I used to be pretty anxious. But I get more excited now.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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