Two weeks ago Naperville Central freshman Sydney Weeks was laid up with a case of mononucleosis, but she returned just in time to swim in sectionals, and Saturday she played a major part in helping the Redhawks to the Metea Valley sectional championship.
Weeks finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:06.40 and also swam the breaststroke on the Redhawks' 200 medley relay team, which qualified for next week's state meet.
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"I was so nervous because I thought I was going to be out of shape," said Weeks, who missed more than two weeks of swimming. "The excitement and everyone being around me got me going. This feels amazing. I've really been working for this all season, and then I got mono. I felt OK in the relay but much better in the 100 breaststroke. The girl next to me, Taylor Campbell, is the reason I went so fast, she was giving me pep talks all day."
Campbell, who finished tied for fourth in the race at 1:06.84 and qualified for state in the 200 IM, was also instrumental in the Redhawks' championship, as were Kelley Lehane and Kamryn Gallowich, who finished tied for third and fifth in the 100 backstroke that took place just prior to the breaststroke.
"Kelley and Kamryn did their best times ever in the backstroke," Weeks said. "In fact our whole team came together. There was always someone behind the blocks supporting us."
"We didn't know what to expect from Sydney," said Naperville Central coach Sue Welker. "She was very sick before she returned to practice about 10 days ago. We really needed her to score and she came through."
In winning the championship the Redhawks amassed 216 points without winning an event.
Naperville North was second with 205 points, followed by Neuqua Valley with 194. All three teams were going at it neck-and-neck throughout the day, but the combined performances of the four girls in the backstroke and breaststroke gave the Redhawks the lead for good.
Oswego East was fourth with 175 and then came Benet and Rosary tied with 133, Metea Valley with 105.5 and Waubonsie Valley with 81.5.
"Our girls did a great job all year turning an individual sport into a team sport," Welker said. "When we realized we could win, it became more important to win. Today we needed every point."
The Redhawks also qualified their 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams and a number of individual swims including: Stephanie Jackson in the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly, Julia Roller in both the 200 IM and the fly, Jessica Sanford in the 100 freestyle and Erin Stevens in the 50 freestyle.
Divers Molly Schatz and Sophia Heiser, who finished second and third in the competition that was won by Taylor Kramer of Benet, will also be representing the Redhawks at state.
Saturday's sectional champions were led by Gia Dalesandro of Neuqua Valley, who won both the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly, and by the Wildcats' 400 freestyle relay team.
Naperville North won the 200 freestyle relay and the Huskies' Devin Jacobs was the champion in the 200 freestyle
Waubonsie Valley's Madeline Hunt took the 50 freestyle, and Metea Valley freshman Amanda Burson, won the 100 freestyle.
West Chicago's Maya Skorupski won the 100 backstroke.