South Elgin's had boys swimmers qualify for the state meet before, but for the first time, the Storm will be sending three swimmers to the final meet of the season.
South Elgin qualified Nick Hasemann, who won the 200-yard freestyle and the 100 backstroke at Saturday's St. Charles East sectional. Also making the trip is Alex Duffy, who qualified in the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly and Taylor Headley, making his first trip to the state meet after qualifying in the 100 butterfly.
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"It's exciting to see how much we've come along in the last three or four years," Hasemann said. "Qualifying three swimmers my senior year is something I'll remember for a very long time."
As a senior, Hasemann is one of the elite swimmers in the state and is making his third trip to the finals, held next weekend at New Trier. As a junior, Hasemann finished seventh in the 200 freestyle and fourth in the 100 backstroke. He also placed in two events as a sophomore.
"Sectionals is always, I think, the hardest meet of the year," Hasemann said. "There's a lot more pressure on this meet than a lot of the meets I go to during the year. I felt more nervous here than I did at nationals. It's a big deal, but I was pretty happy with the way I swam."
Hasemann said the format of the sectional works to make even top athletes nervous.
"It's a one-day thing," he said. "If you make a mistake, it'll cost you, and you see that in a lot of swims. That's what happens, and I didn't want to risk anything, so I just went for it today."
Hasemann said he is looking forward to the state meet based on how he swam at the sectional.
"It looks good," he said. "It should be very fast swimming next week from everyone. But for me, it's a different mentality. It's my senior year and I'm more excited for this meet than I have been the last three years."
Entering his final state meet, Hasemann has some clearly-defined goals.
"Definitely I want to make Top 6 in everything," he said. "I want to make a run for being state champion and then see what I can do as far as times. I just need to focus on myself. If I do that, then I will be pleased with how I perform."
As a sophomore, Duffy qualified in the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly but did not advance to the finals.
"I totally dedicated myself this year and it paid off," Duffy said. "My goal is to place top 12."
Hasemann's qualification in the 200 freestyle, though expected, still kick-started South Elgin's afternoon.
"It's great to have more people make it every year," Duffy said. "For (Headley) to make it this year, I'm happy for him. It's awesome. It's going to be really fun having more kids go. I think it will make us closer as a team."
Duffy said he has seen the improvements as the season has progressed. He finished second in the 200 IM and was third in the 100 butterfly.
"I kind of saw myself at this point a couple of weeks ago," Duffy said. "I just want to get better next week. I'll be even better next week."
Huntley senior Matthew Haage also qualified, finishing second in the 50 free.
St. Charles North won the team championship, edging St. Charles East 385-364.