Coaches: Dave Auston and Amy Elliott
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Key losses: Devon Brown (Indianapolis), Allie Kolz (Ball State)
Top returnees: Junior Madison Rinaldi (39th state 100 back, 200 IM); sophomores Karleen Gernady (100 fly, 200 free, 500 free), Jackie Hren, Lauren Rauch, Kylinn Cobb, Michelle Koruna
Outlook: Lakes doesn't have its own pool but that hasn't stopped Brown and Kolz from going on to swim in college or Rinaldi from making it to the state's biggest stage. "That's not stopping us," Auston said. "We are grateful that we are able to represent Lakes proudly. We are positive and excited for the new year." Rinaldi swam a 59.21 at state last year and won the sectional title in 58.5 in a field which included Lake Forest and Mundelein.
Coach: Erik Rogers
Last year: third in NSC meet, 16th at state
Key losses: Morgan Dickson (2nd state 500 free, 3rd state 200 IM, five-time state medalist, Tennessee), Julia Elsmo (state relays), Jessica Domagala (state 400 free relay)
Top returnees: Seniors Sophia Lex (50, 100 free; state relays), Morgan Dunleavy (15th state diving); sophomores Staci Herchenbach (50 free, 100 fly; state relays), Macy Neubauer (200 IM, 40th state 100 breaststroke)
Top newcomers: Freshmen Meredith Robbins (100 back), Emma Richert (200 IM).
Outlook: The Wildcats lost the most decorated swimmer in the history of the girls program in Dickson, but Rogers sees this as a "young team with a lot of potential" to produce another top-three finish in the rugged NSC. Neubauer, Lex and Herchenbach return with valuable state experience and provide the nucleus for solid relays. Robbins and Richert should also figure prominently for the Wildcats.
Coach: Rahul Sethna (11th year)
Last year: fourth in NSC meet, 13th in state
Key losses: Meagan Falconer (state 100 back, state relays, Grand Valley State), Lauren Anderson (state 200 medley relay), Angel Vergis (diving)
Top returnees: Senior Karrie Kozokar (21st state 50 free), Allie Booth, Anna Ward; juniors Erin Falconer (4th state 200 free, 5th state 100 free), Jenn Kordik (18th state 200 IM, 27th state breaststroke), Rachel Robb (state relays), Kelsey Toland (24th state diving), Aijan Urmat, Lauren Blake, Michelle Swiatkiewicz, Denise Casali, Marissa Rehor, Paige Falato, Madison McClain; sophomores Tara Lawson, Sasha Levin, Rachel Finerty
Outlook: Sethna returns to the girls program he coached from 1997-2006 and will have one of the state's best swimmers in Erin Falconer to lead the Mustangs after their best state finish. The skill and state experience of Kozokar, Kordik and Robb also makes the relays top-six and possibly title-contending material after going 1:39.4 and 3:34.89 in the 200 and 400 frees respectively last weekend. "We are hoping to continue to grow as a program from the foundation the girls set the past couple of years and we want to continue to improve at the invite and state level," said Sethna, who is also currently in his second stint as the boys head coach. The big meets are where the Mustangs should thrive as Sethna sees the NSC potentially having five top-20 teams with Libertyville, Stevenson, Lake Forest and Warren.
Coach: Karl Milkereit (11th season)
Last year: second in NSC meet, sectional champions, second at Lake County Invite, 11th in state
Key losses: Madison Blaydes (11th state 500 free and 100 back, seven-time state medalist, Wisconsin)
Top returnees: Seniors Julia Wawer (fifth state 200 free, ninth state 100 free), Cheryl Xiang (17th state 200 free, 27th state 100 free), Rebecca Hannon (13th state 500 free, 35th state 100 fly), Riley Kirby (20th state 100 back, 38th state 50 free), Leah Bloodgood (18th state 100 breaststroke); sophomore Casey Kirby (state 200 medley relay)
Top newcomers: Sophomore Yuka Kuwahara (200 IM, 100 breaststroke)
Outlook: A talented and experienced group is in pursuit of a big goal this fall. "For us, it is to see if this class of seniors can match the class of 2008 who brought home a trophy for the first time in school history," Milkereit said of the Patriots' third-place finish. That looks to be a real possibility for a program that has won five NSC and four sectional titles and also finished fifth at state in the last eight years. Wawer leads a group which also gained plenty of Saturday state experience in relays last year. Hannon just missed making the top-12 finals by less than a half-second in the 500 free.
Coach: Kedric Greenawalt (sixth season)
Last year: sixth in NSC meet
Key losses: Sarah Lopez (two-time state diving, Denison), Jessica Tomback (diving)
Top returnees: Juniors Lisa Cheng (sprint freestyles, fly, back), Summer Hemesath (mid-distance free, back).
Top newcomers: Freshman Lilly Hemesath (breaststroke, IM, sprint freestyles)
Outlook: Very bright for the relatively new program compared to the bigger, more established powers in the NSC. Greenawalt said "we experienced a sonic boom in our participation as a whole, especially with our freshmen numbers." That includes Lillly Hemesath, who comes into the program with multiple age-group state qualifying times and several top-16 state relay finishes and has goals of getting to state as an individual or on relays. Cheng just missed state in the 50 free and 100 fly by less than a combined half-second and Summer Hemesath was third at the sectional and missed state by a little more than a second. "Both are in great shape early on, so we expect big things from them this season," Greenawalt said. "As a team our goal has been to improve and beat at least one more team within our very competitive conference. Having a program little more than 10 years causes us to build year after year on the previous season as we look to, one day, compete with the Stevensons, Libertyvilles and Lake Forests out there."
Coach: Chris Bertana (first season)
Last year: fifth in NSC meet
Key losses: Becky Stochl (14th state diving)
Top returnees: Seniors Paige Wells (37th state 100 free, sprints), Jessie Grasty (200 IM, 100 fly), Katie Travelstead (utility), Karis Kovacs (state qualifier diving); junior Megan Delfield (36th state 100 breaststroke)
Top newcomers: Freshman Courtney Barker (sprint freestyles, 100 back)
Outlook: Bertana hopes to transfer the success he's had in four years in charge of the boys program to the girls side. He believes the Blue Devils have a chance to score individual state points for the first time since current Lake Forest coach Carolyn Grevers was a four-time medalist in the mid-90s and they can have top-12 state relays for the first time in history. "The NSC is probably one of the toughest conferences in the state, and being able to race some of the best swimmers in the state will provide valuable training opportunities to prepare for state," Bertana said. "Teams like Stevenson and Lake Forest that have incredible depth will be tough opponents, but we are up for the challenge and we will compete at the highest level possible." Wells made the NCSA Junior National Championships in the spring and summer and brings state experience with Delfield. Barker also figures to make an impact inside and outside the program. "Her natural ability and height will cause others to take note," Bertana said.