As Hersey coach Dick Mortensen was explaining to his swimmers following Thursday's victory over Wheeling at Olympic Pool in Arlington Heights, winning the Mid-Suburban East has become an expectation.
That kind of thinking is bound to happen when you win six straight divisional crowns, which is what Hersey did by delivering another unbeaten season against its divisional foes. The Huskies wrapped up their latest title with a 139-46 win over the Wildcats.
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All that Hersey winning doesn't just happen automatically, though. And Mortensen credits the system he has in place, starting with frosh-soph coach Luanne Hartje.
"We're like a lot of the teams in the East -- the majority of our freshman swimmers haven't been swimmers before high school," he said. "But here at Hersey, we start right away by explaining the expectation we have for them. And by the end of the season, every year we have at least a few freshmen that are ready to be upper-end JV or even varsity swimmers."
Mix in a few of those competitors with a good blend of exisiting varsity talent, and you start winning consistently. Hersey's resident expert on the subject of winning: Senior Amanda Petro, who put the finishing touches on an extraordinary record of personal success by winning her individual events Thursday, the 200 free (2:01.19) and the 100 backstroke (1:00.37). Through four years of high school dual meets, she has done nothing but win her individual races. Every dual meet race, all four years.
It would be a mistake to think of Hersey as a one-dimensional team, though.
A stellar all-junior diving crew of Hannah Bovino, Anne Johnson and Megan Nocita finished 1-2-3 against Wheeling, and the Tom Schwab-coached trio is clearly the top overall diving group in the league. Bovino led the way Thursday with 229.65, and the Huskies divers regularly provide a big point advantage in divisional meets.
Hersey also has terrific dual-meet depth with competitors such as Kelsey O'Donnell, Lenna Fotos, Kayla Dale, Karolina Szymaszek, Lara Derrig, Sarah Petro and Sarah Zidek.
While Szymaszek continues to recover from a bout with pneumonia, that allowed for some additional opportunities for swimmers like Zidek and Derrig. Zidek claimed her first varsity victory in the 200 IM against Wheeling, and Derrig took top honors with a personal best in the 100 breaststroke (1:16.90).
Derrig personifies the kind of swimmer Mortensen's program needs in order to keep winning East crowns. That is, swimmers who take it seriously and steadily improve.
"I have so much fun with this team," Derrig said. "For me, it's about putting in the work and just believing in myself. It's nice to see the results."
Buffalo Grove d. Elk Grove: Visiting Buffalo Grove won both freestyle relays and all the individual freestyles in pulling out a 102-78 win over the Grens. Margaret Lotzer won the 200 and 500 freestyles; Callie Fasching won the 100 free and Veronika Jedryka the 50 free for the Bison.
Winners for Elk Grove were Simona Kurta in the 100 fly, Jackie Hirschauer in the 200 IM and Nikki Sugihara in the 100 back; those three joined Misheel Tserenbat for the winning medley relay.
Barrington d. Conant: The host Fillies earned a 137-48 victory by winning all the relays and getting first-place finishes from Mekenna Scheitlin in the 200 free (1:56.26) and 100 back (1:01.53), Emma Barnett in the 200 IM (2:16.97) and 100 free (55.81) and Andrea Vega in the 50 free (25.39) and 100 breast (1:14.15). Tiffany Soto also won diving (195.45).
Conant's Allison Cicero won the 500 free in 5:13.41.