Top teams: Naperville North, Neuqua Valley Downers Grove North, Hinsdale Central
Top players:Addison Trail-Willowbrook Co-op: Colleen Krawczykowski, sr.; Molly Kuenstler, so.; Kelly McNamara, so.; Benet: Mary Claire Webb, so.; Alanna Galvin, so.; Taylor Lifka, Kate Joyce, jr.; Taylor Kramer (diver), sr.; Downers Grove North: Gabby Sims, jr.; Maddy Sims, jr.; Emily Albrecht, so.; Hannah Kaufmann, sr.; Gabbie Serniute, so.; Glenbard North-Glenbard East co-op: Mary Floren, sr.; Glenbard West-Glenbard South Co-op: Meg Beese, jr.; Kasia Gniatczyk, sr. Hinsdale Central: Margie McCarthy (diver) so.; Olivia Garrett, sr.; Margaret Kaufman, so.; Kerry Grosshans, sr.; Hinsdale South: Rachel Hawken, so.; Lake Park: Jessica Warfield, jr.; Kara Jeske, jr.; Jill Garrett, sr.; Metea Valley: Lindsay Raczak, sr.; Katie Deters, so.; Amanda Burson, fr.; Naperville Central: Julia Roller, sr.; Kelly Lehane, jr.; Taylor Campbell, sr.; Stephanie Jackson, jr.; Molly Schatz (diver), sr.; Naperville North: Becca Bogle, sr.; Michelle Law, sr. Rachel Prorok sr.; Devin Jacobs, so.; Marissa Anderson, sr.; Amy Novak, sr.; Anna Williams, sr.; Neuqua Valley: Gia Dalesandro, sr.; Megan Childs, sr.; Brooke Bedford, sr.; Riley Schroedter, sr.; Waubonsie Valley: Madeline Hunt, jr.; Alexa Steffl, so.; Melina Moussetis, sr.; West Chicago: Maya Skorupski, ssr.; Yvette Kruk, sr.; Wheaton Co-op: Erin Bagley, sr.; Sarah Bradley (diver), jr.; Hannah Olsen, so.; Erin Sivak, sr.; York: Shannon Sullivan, sr.
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Outlook: Eight of the top 20 teams at last year's state meet are from DuPage Count, and many of those teams have an impressive array of talent returning. So this figures to be another banner year for local girls swimming.
Neuqua Valley did the best among the area teams, finishing sixth, and the Wildcats return several swimmers who featured on the three scoring relays. They're led by Dalesandro, who, as an individual finished third in the 100 butterfly and fourth in the 100 backstroke. While the Wildcats lost some key people to graduation and they aren't as deep as year at the top level, coach Brandon King is shooting for a top 10 finish again.
Downers Grove North, which finished seventh, has the one returning state champ in the county and that's junior Maddy Sims, who won the 100 backstroke title. The Trojans finished fourth in the 400 freestyle relay and sixth in the 200 free relay, and all five girls who swam those races return, including Sims who, as an individual, finished fifth in the 200 freestyle. "We're looking at a top five," said coach Judy Busse. "And we'd like to break into the trophy hunt."
Hinsdale Central finished ninth at state and the Red Devils graduated a strong senior class, so there are some spots to fill this year. "We're pretty young this year," coach Bob Barber said. "But we have the people who are ready to move in and grow. We just want to enjoy the season and see how we can be the best team we can be."
This could be the year for Naperville North, which finished at No. 11. The Huskies are deep and experienced. Add a couple of promising freshmen and also return two key seniors in Novak and Williams, who missed last season. "We could be an exciting team this year," coach Kristy Holben said. "We were ninth at state two years ago and it would be awesome if we could top that this year."
At No. 14 was the Glenbard West-Glenbard South co-op team that graduated its big scorer Connie Hsu (second in the fly and fourth in the 200 free). The team will be competitive and will vie for the West Suburban Silver championship. "We'll be more balanced this year and we should pick up a lot of wins," coach Chris Flamion said.
Benet is another of those teams that graduated a large and accomplished senior class, but the returners include plenty of talented swimmers who will compete. Kramer finished sixth in the diving and four of the girls ahead of her have graduated. The returning Benet nucleus is strong and gives coach Sarah Maggio a lot of options as she puts the new pieces together. "We'll try to get as many qualified for state as we can," Maggio said. "But our goal is just to learn something from every meet and be our best at the end of the season."
And then two Naperville-area teams, Waubonsie Valley and Naperville Central, were tied for 19th at state. The Warriors Hunt finished seventh in the 50 free, but there's a lot of young talent on this team that signals that the return to the glory days of Waubonsie girls swimming is not too far away. "Our younger classes are very strong. They've got speed and they give us some decisions to make about the relays," coach Kate Peterson said. "We hope to have a good representation at state."
And Naperville Central is led by Roller, who finished fifth in the 500 free and 11th in the 100 breaststroke. Besides Roller, coach Sue Welker has a number of up-and-comers who are competing for relay spots. "We've also got the strongest freshman class that we've had in years," Welker said, "so we should be good this year and getting better In the future."
Important dates: 9/7-8 Neuqua Valley Invite; 9/15 West Chicago Wildcat Invitational, 9/21-22 /Downers Grove North Invite; 9/27 Naperville Central at Naperville North; 9/28-29 Downers Grove South Invite; Metea Valley Mustang Invite; 10/6 Naperville North Invitational; 10/13 New Trier Relays; 10/26-27 Conference Meets 11/9-10 Sectionals;11/16-17 Illinois State Meet
-- Neil Shalin