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updated: 11/10/2012 8:31 PM

A deep talent pool gathers at Lake Forest

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By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent

By the time you are a senior in high school, you begin to feel comfortable in your own skin.

And maybe that's the reason Grayslake Central 12th-grader Claire Haggerty proudly wore her swimming jacket around the high school this week.

"People would ask me if we had a swimming team,'' Haggerty said. "I told them the pool was in the basement."

The Lake Forest sectional was kind to the girl with no formal team. Haggerty qualified for the state meet in the 200 IM (2:09.77).

The sectional was also kind to that team that has no pool of its own this season. The Mundelein Mustangs won all three relays, and led by sophomore Erin Falconer, finished a strong second. The home-standing Scouts won their own sectional (303), followed by Mundelein (237) and Libertyville (191). Warren was a strong fourth (179) and Vernon Hills was fifth (101).

Falconer swam a leg in both the 200 and 400 relay wins by her team. She also swept to victories in both 100 (51:25) and the 200 free (1:52.99). Her time in the 100 broke a pool record at Lake Forest. All this from a girl who was only partially rested for the sectional.

"The sectional is my favorite," Falconer said. "I like pumping up the girls on the team. I'm here to relieve their stress. I don't feel much under pressure here."

Mundelein coach Melissa Healy knows she has a special sophomore in Falconer.

"Erin is a race horse," Healy said. "She is so strong and she works very, very hard. She really leads by example."

Evidently the lack of a working pool at Mundelein hasn't slowed down Healy's team.

"This a great day for Mundelein,'' Healy said. "We are the wayward team that travels. It's 'No pool, no problem' for us."

Speaking of another girl who doesn't swim at her home pool, Lakes sophomore Madison Rinaldi was seeded fourth in the 100 backstroke. And when the race concluded, Rinaldi was a sectional champion. This sophomore does her swimming for the Blue Devils Swim Club.

"I didn't expect to win,'' Rinaldi said. "I've always been a good backstroker but it's incredible that I'm going to state."

While Rinaldi and Central's Haggerty won't have a team bus to take to New Trier this coming weekend, Falconer and the Mustangs will have plenty of company. Joining Falconer is the winning 200 medley relay team of Meghan Falconer, Lauren Anderson, Jennifer Kordik and Karrie Kozokar (148.80). Kozokar took top honors in the 50 free (24.25). Kordik also qualified for state in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.10).

Rachel Robb took part in two winning relays, and Meghan Falconer also advanced in the 100 backstroke (59.64).

For third place Libertyville, it was about first making sure standout Morgan Dickson got to state. That mission was accomplished with a nine second win in the 500 free (5:01.33).

Her second-place finish in the 200 IM (2:08.52) also will take her to state. Libertyville coach Erik Rogers wanted to make sure Dickson was ready to the big meet next week and had her put a technical suit for the last relay. He then watched her break a school record in her leg of the relay.

"We got all three relays down,'' Rogers said. "A lot of our girls are still very young."

That included the freshmen on his team such as Macey Neubauer and Staci Herchenbach, who each swam a leg of the state-qualifying 200 medley relay (1:49.85).

Dickson, Herchenbach, Julia Elsmo and Sophia Lex will move on with a time of 3:35.51 in the 400 free relay. Neubauer finished second in the 100 breaststroke and will head to state (1:07.61).

Warren's good performance was helped along by Paige Wells, who qualified in both the 100 free (53.57) and 50 free (24.50). Megan Delfeld earned a trip with her time of 1:07.83, good for third place. Warren's 200 medley team of Katie Travelstead, Jessica Grasty, Wells and Delfield qualified with a third-place time of 1:49.84. Warren diver Rebecca Stochl finished a strong second (399.10).

Carmel will be represented by Anna Gray in the 50 free (24.70).

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