Fremd's girls swimming team lost a bunch of talented seniors from last year's group.
Those competitors -- Amy McEllen, Sam Matuszewski and Emily McCarthy foremost among them -- were key to coach Andrew Kittrell's long-term goal of establishing regular Vikings participation in the state meet. And they played a big part in getting both of Fremd's freestyle relays into the action at Evanston last fall.
Conventional wisdom says it's hard to replace those kind of seniors, but there isn't much conventional about this year's edition of the Vikings.
Standout senior sprinter Breanna Anderson and super soph Erica King are still with the team and again delivering impressive results, but what's continuing to make Fremd a force in the Mid-Suburban League again this year is the sheer depth of front-line swimmers.
It was too much for an improving Palatine team to handle on Wednesday as the Vikings earned decisive victories at all levels.
"Maybe 70, 75 percent of our varsity lineup is freshmen and sophomores," said Kittrell. "That's exciting, but it's also challenging. We have a lot of swimmers who are learning."
Fremd's coach is also learning as he goes. The main problem right now is the multitude of choices he has while assembling meet lineups.
"I would put it this way -- our lineup right now is extremely fluid," he said. "I know what our kids are capable of right now, but they're really challenging one another in practice as you'd expect, and giving me new decisions to make."
Anderson was impressive in winning the 100-meter freestyle in 1:00.3, and King is right on track in the 400 free, winning in 4:39. Both were near misses to score points in their individual races at last year's state meet.
Vikings senior Kayleen Samuels, a state qualifier in the 100 backstroke last year, finished second to a much younger teammate against Palatine as Fremd finished the meet with a 1-2 finish in the backstroke, a 1-2-3 paced by sophomore Loretta Stelnicki in the breaststroke, and a 1-3 finish in the 400 free relay.
"It's exciting," said Anderson, who hopes to make the top 12 at the state meet in her individual races this season. "I'm just starting to realize what a special group of girls we have this year. We're getting really close as a team, and I think we're all looking forward to just getting better and seeing how far we can go."
Barrington d. Hoffman Estates: Barrington produced another strong effort in claiming a 117-67 victory over visiting Hoffman Estates.
Senior Kayla Widdowson won the 50 free (26.73) and the 100 free (57.32) for the Fillies.
Other individual winners included Kelsey Holmes (200 free), Kirsten Jacobsen (200 IM), Tiffany Soto (diving), Mekenna Scheitlin (100 fly), Ellie Menso (500 free), Emma Barnett (100 back) and Olivia Hoffman (100 breaststroke).
Barrington also won all three relays.
Schaumburg d. Conant: Conant's Barbara Rose, Allison Cicero and Paulina Wolski won two individual races apiece and had legs on the host Cougars' winning 400-meter freestyle relay, but Schaumburg's overall edge in depth helped the Saxons win 102-82.
Schaumburg's Sydney Skibinski won the 100 fly, the 100 breaststroke and had a leg on the winning medley relay with teammates Ema Cigerova, Danielle J. Grubb and Madeline Langlotz.
Amanda Siegler also won diving for the Saxons (164.15).
Conant's foursome of Priya Shah, Alex Schultz, Marianna Gasparri and Ashley Sachdeva won the 200 free relay.