Fremd girls swimming coach Andrew Kittrell is known to his swimmers as simply, "Kitty."
He doesn't mind the wordplay, and his Vikings also seem to enjoy it. They frequently skip more conventional greetings when they approach him, and instead just meow in his general direction.
That deep, rumbling sound from the Fremd side of the deck after Thursday night's meet at Barrington? A deeply satisfied, collective Fremd purring.
Fremd ended a Barrington dual meet win streak against Mid-Suburban League opponents that has lasted longer than anyone has been able to pinpoint, but according to Fillies coach Jim Bart covered at least 20 years.
The Vikings got narrow wins in two of the three relays and pulled out enough close races for a 101-85 victory in front of an appreciative audience at Barrington.
"First off, none of this happens without the kind of program Barrington has had under Jim Bart," said Kittrell. "He's one heck of a coach, and having a program like that in the conference only elevates everyone else."
Consider Fremd especially well-elevated this season, and on this evening in particular. The Vikings broke five team records: The 200 medley relay of Saki Takumiya, Loretta Stelnicki, Jennie Yang and Breanna Anderson; Takumiya with winning efforts in the 200 IM (2:10.40) and 100 back (58.62); and Anderson in the 50 free (2nd, 24.54) and 100 free (1st, 53.30).
The many individual standouts from both teams traded victories, and the difference in the outcome came mainly from the second- and third-place points from competitors such as Fremd senior Kayleen Samuels. Her third-place finish in the 100 back; Grace Kneller's second-place effort in the 100 free; Jillian Marsden's third-place effort behind standout teammate Eica King in the 500, and the Vikings' collective effort at avoiding Barrington 1-2 finishes were key.
"Coming in as a freshman three years ago, there's no way I'd believe we could beat a team like Barrington," said Samuels. "But everybody on this team believes now."
Barrington, too, had standout efforts across the board, but especially from junior Mekenna Scheitlin and freshman Kirsten Jacobsen. Scheitlin won the 50 free in 24.05 and the 100 fly in 57.81; Jacobsen smashed the team record in winning the 200 free (1:52.28) and had a season-best in winning the 500 free (5:01.32). Those are the kind of swims that score points in the state finals.
And paired with Andrea Vega and Emma Barnett, the Fillies' winning 400 free relay was just a few seconds of its own team record in a winning 3:34.54.
"We're disappointed in losing only," Bart said. "We had great swims, gutsy efforts from all of our kids. Fremd won the close races, so they won the meet. We congratulate them -- they showed us what we need to work on, so now we get back to work."
Barrington's Olivia Hoffman won the 100 breaststroke in 1:11.15.
Fremd's Sarah McTague (205.00) won diving, just ahead of Barrington's Tiffany Soto (198.20) and the Vikings' Sydney Plichta (189.70).
Fremd's 200 free relay of Kneller, Emily Jia, King and Stelnicki won in 1:40.61, six one-hundredths faster than Barrington's Lisa Danhauer, Barnett, Kelly Meckert and Jacobsen.
Hersey d. Rolling Meadows: The host Huskies earned a 125-61 win with a sweep of the relays and individual wins from Amanda Petro (200 free, 100 back) and Kelsey O'Donnell (200 IM, 100 fly). Meadows had winners in Neeka Szacilo (100 free) and Meaghan O'Brien (100 breast).
Palatine d. Schaumburg: The visiting Pirates claimed a 1-3 finish in both freestyle relays to pull out a 97-88 victory.
Palatine race winners included Amy Zahn (200 free, 100 fly), Lily Zahn (100 free), Kristin Anderson (50 free), Tess O'Brien (100 back) and Laura Mayer (200 IM).
Schaumburg winners were Sydney Skibinski (100 breast), Ellen Nolley (400 free) and Amanda Poland (diving).
Wheeling d. Elk Grove: Wheeling delivered wins in all the relays and had a double individual winner in Theresa Godlewski (50 free, 100 free) to claim a 106-76 victory at Elk Grove. Nikki Sugihara (200 IM, 100 breaststroke) won twice for the Grens.
BG d. Prospect: The visiting Bison earned a 96-84 victory as Veronica Jedryka, Margaret Lotzer, Callie Fasching and Sarah Morosan won two individual races each.