Vargas, Ragdolls give all for championship

Sarah Vargas dropped 14 seconds in the 500-freestyle race during the District 12 championship. SOURCE: MARY KATE MATOZZO

Sarah Vargas gave it everything she had.

The senior on the Archbishop Ryan High School swimming team pushed herself as hard as she could have in the pool. And did the same thing when she wasn’t in the water.

The result was a voice that simply didn’t work very well the day after the Catholic League championship.

“I’m not sick at all, I just lost it,” Vargas said on Sunday, the day after the Catholic League and District 12 championship swim meet. “We did a lot of yelling. It was a great day.”

A great day to be a champion, and on Saturday, Vargas and her teammates were champions two times over.

The Ragdolls won the Catholic League girls swimming championship at Kirk Pool at La Salle University. Allison Henry, bound for Nebraska, had a pair of first-place finishes leading the Ragdolls to their second straight championship and third for this senior class. On the boys side, it was more of the same as La Salle won its 32nd consecutive crown.

Overall, it was the 13th championship for Ed Macko, who has a staff that includes Sarah Hutchins, Jen Staskel, Brandon Rapone and Christine Heptig. All but Macko, a Dougherty grad, went to Ryan.

For Vargas, who is also the first baseman on the Ryan softball team, the championship capped off a terrific team swimming career. She still has a chance to swim in two relays during the state meet in March.

Henry, Vargas, Hannah Storm, Gianna Short, Paige Colombo, Winnie Wong and Julianna DeLusi earned First-Team All-Catholic selections. Henry, Storm, Vargas, Short, Colombo, Wong, Conchetta Quinn, Amy Carvalho and DeLusi were First Team District 12 swimmers.

Ryan’s championship was more impressive considering the squad brought only 15 girls to the meet.

“It’s so hard to win with such a small team because you get points for just finishing races, and there were teams with a lot more swimmers than we had,” said Vargas, who swam two relays and two individual events during the championship meets. “Last year, we lost a lot of seniors who were really good and were a big part of our championship this year. This year, we only have three seniors so they’re going to be very good next year.

“It shows we have a great team because we needed points from everyone to win. Allison didn’t lose an event all year, including relays, but everyone else really swam well, too.”

The highlight of the day for the Ragdolls was in the 200 yard freestyle relay, when they defeated Cardinal O’Hara by .01 second in the PCL championship meet. That clinched the title for Ryan.

It’s also one of the main reasons Vargas doesn’t have much of a voice left.

Vargas gets a little rest for her voice, though she will continue to train for the upcoming state championship meet. But she’ll also be working on getting ready for her other sport. Tryouts are in early March, so for a few days she’ll be doing double duty.

Couple that with her challenging courses, she’s in all honors classes, and her duties as president of Athletes Helping Athletes, and it’s a pretty busy time.

But for her, it’s the perfect schedule.

“I’m so excited for softball season, I really think we should have a great year,” said Vargas, who is a captain for both sports this year. “It would be so great to leave here with five championships. That’s my goal. I have three in swimming and if we win softball, that would be our second. That’s what our goal is.”

She knows she’s in for a busy March, but she’s excited about it.

“It’s nothing I can’t handle,” Vargas said. “It’s a lot, but it’s fun. Senior year is busy. I know grades are important, and the other things are fun.

“I think Athletes Helping Athletes is the best thing we have at the school. Everyone loves it. It’s great for the kids and it’s great for us. Everyone has such a good time with it. No matter what the event is, everyone has a great time.”

It’s also helped Vargas figure out what she’s going to do after high school. She plans on majoring in speech pathology.

“I want to be able to help people and in that job, you can really do a lot,” said Vargas, who lives in Torresdale. “I’ve learned a lot through Athletes Helping Athletes and that showed me that I could keep helping people.”

One thing you can be sure of is Vargas isn’t afraid of hard work.

She proved that during the District 12 championship.

“I usually swim the 100 freestyle, but they had me swim the 500 freestyle,” Vargas said. “To be honest, that’s not one of my favorites, but I wanted to do it because it would help the team and I dropped 14 seconds.

“Our coaches do such a great job of making out a lineup. They won it. They figured out the best way to score the most points. They did it and that’s one of the main reasons we won. We didn’t have a big team, but we all worked together. It feels so good to win it again.”