The Jacobs/Hampshire co-op girls swimming team won the recent Fox Valley Conference championship by working together.
"We don't have that one superstar on the team," first-year coach Young Le says. "We try and swim together as a team in order to get the most points. At the conference meet, we swam as a team and won."
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The Golden Eagles will look to continue that success at Saturday's St. Charles North sectional where berths in next weekend's state finals in Evanston will be on the line.
In individual events, sophomore Nicki Sanchez has excelled in the 50 and 100 races, while junior Erin Jameson has swam well in the breaststroke. She's cut her time from 1:17 to 1:09 this season.
Le also has put together a solid 200 medley relay team with freshman Jackie O'Connor swimming the backstroke, Jameson swimming the breaststroke, Sanchez in the butterfly and freshman Megan Waddell swimming the 50 free.
"The medley has been a solid event for us all season," Le said. "We've gone from 2:01 down to 1:54."
Huntley made a dramatic improvement at the FVC tournament, going from last place in 2011 to second this season.
"We won no meets in conference last year," Red Raiders coach George Keenan said. "We started winning meets this year and doing well in invites. We've started to get some confidence now and we've surprised a lot of people. I couldn't be happier. We had 11 kids and we finished second. Everyone scored points."
At the FVC meet, Huntley's only championship came from Emily Ferguson in the 500 (5:39.43). Ali Cazel was second in the 200 (2:00.53), while Chanel Curtis was second in the 50 (24.89) and third in the 100 (55.31). Cazel was third in the butterfly (1:04.21) and third in the backstroke (1:04.85).
Huntley's 200 relay team of Cazel, Natalie Rodriguez, Ferguson and Curtis took second at 1:44.62, while the 400 relay team of Cazel, Abby Eiermann, Ferguson and Curtis was third at 3:40.00.
Curtis is around 0.14 seconds shy of the state-qualifying standard in the 50.
"I think she can get it done," Keenan says. "This season has been very exciting. Hopefully we have a little magic left this weekend."
The Crystal Lake District 155 co-op team was third in the FVC. Prairie Ridge's Marisa Barton won the 50 and 100 and was part of the team's winning 200 and 400 relay teams. Crystal Lake South's Nikayla Dahl took second in the 100, third in the 50 and was part of the two winning relay teams, while Prairie Ridge's Courtney Lefevre was third in the 200 and was on the two winning relay teams. Crystal Lake Central's Amanda Neville placed second in the 500 and was part of the two winning relays. Prairie Ridge's Julia Myjak has shown plenty of improvement in the 500 this season.
"We have a very hardworking team," coach Lindsay Swartz said. "We've seen improvements and there has been great cooperation. It's been a fun season."
The Elgin-Larkin co-op team placed ninth at the Upstate Eight Conference meet. Echo Boehm was 10th in the 50 free at 26.52, while Kathleen McCaffery was 12th in the 50 at 27.15. Maggie Lehman is another swimmer with potential.
Coach Nancy Kalush also has been impressed with the efforts of Tori Bostler and Heather Aubry this season.
"Tori has shown what a team leader and captain really means. She has led by example," Kalush said. "Heather has continued to improve her times and earned her place on a sectional relay team."
Kalush has seen the entire team take big steps forward this season.
"I have been impressed with how much our varsity team has grown from last year in numbers and in depth," she says. "The girls have put a lot of hard work and effort into making the season what it has been."
Bartlett-Streamwood placed seventh in the UEC. The team's 400 relay team took fifth with a group comprised of seniors Rachel Lee, Dana Cichon, Gianna Giampapa and freshman Megan Cummins.
"Our girls are pulling out all the stops to make some serious drops come sectionals," coach Carl Metzke said.
The 400 relay team won the Maine East Relays Blue Division in that event.
"Our proudest moment up to this point is winning at Maine East," Metzke says. "The girls were trying to go below 4:00 and they smashed that with a 3:55 and haven't looked back since."
Metzke has been particularly pleased with how the team's relays as a whole have developed this season.
"While we have some success in the individual events, our relays are where we shine this year," he said. "Our relays have been clicking and we have been working hard to get our 400 relay faster and faster. Megan, Dana, Rachel and Gianna really work well together and have been pushing each other in practice every day."
Bartlett-Streamwood will feature a senior-dominated sectional team.
"We have 7 seniors, 3 freshmen and 1 sophomore on this sectional team," Metzke said. "We have plenty of girls that have been at this sectional before and are ready to show our younger girls how the meet runs. The girls have really come together these past few weeks and are set on common goals. They are all very excited for this particular sectional meet. This is a really fun group of girls who know how to train, but also know when to have some fun."
Burlington Central will enter a number of individuals in the sectional. Sophomore Caroline Puchek will swim the 200 IM and the breaststroke, while sophomore Ashley Stark will swim the 50 and 100. Freshman Grace Stiberth will swim the 100 and the breaststroke.
St. Edward freshman Mikaila DiCostanzo is entered in the 100 and 500.
Dundee-Crown and Cary-Grove will compete in the Stevenson sectional in Lincolnshire on Saturday.
At the sectional, the first place finishers in each event and any other swimmer that equals or surpasses the minimum state-qualifying standard advance to the state finals next weekend at Evanston Township High School.