It's about time.
And being in the right place, which is ahead of everyone else, as girls swimmers look to either win events or hit the qualifying times at today's 16 sectional meets around the state. Those who do will head to next weekend's state meet at New Trier.
The bulk of the teams from Lake County will be at Vernon Hills for a 9 a.m. start for diving and a 1 p.m. start for swimming. Stevenson continues driving toward its goal of a top-three state trophy at the Barrington sectional.
Stevenson repeated as North Suburban Conference champions last week with a juggled lineup. Now it will have everyone in its typical places in an effort to get as many swimmers to New Trier as possible.
"We've been doing really well all season," said Stevenson senior Cheryl Xiang, who looks to qualify in the 100- and 200-yard freestyles again. "We're definitely really excited for sectionals and state."
Senior Julia Wawer was fifth in the 200 free and ninth in the 100 free at state last year. Rebecca Hannon, Riley Kirby, Leah Bloodgood and Casey Kirby all have state experience and Ashlin Ruiz, Shayna Salzman, Courtney Kamin and Yuka Kuwahara all had top-five individual or relay finishes in the NSC meet.
"It's a pretty versatile group," said Stevenson coach Karl Milkereit. "We started out with high expectations, and as well as we swam at New Trier and Lake County, our goal is to try and get a trophy and get the third-place trophy. That one seems up for grabs."
Mundelein will also continue its push to be in the mix with the state's elite along with NSC runner-up Lake Forest at Vernon Hills. Junior Erin Falconer had her fastest 100 (51.91) and second-fastest 200 (1:51.58) of the season en route to NSC titles.
"I'm feeling really well about this year," said Falconer, who was fourth in the 200 and fifth in the 100 at state last year. "I've been practicing really hard and I'm excited to see how I can do."
Returning state qualifiers Karrie Kozokar, Jenn Kordik and Rachel Robb give the Mustangs big-meet point scorers. Aijan Urmat and Allie Boothe were on the 200 and 400 free relays that made the state cut last weekend.
"Overall it was a good meet," Mundelein coach Rahul Sethna said after the NSC. "We set ourselves up nicely for (this) week. Erin, Jenn and Karrie did what they needed to."
Libertyville's 200 medley relay crew of Meredith Robbins, Macey Neubauer, Staci Herchenbach and Sophia Lex looks to continue its push toward a top-six state finish after swimming an NSC record 1:49.55. Junior Jordan Rule also made a big jump in the 100 backstroke (59.46) to finish third and surpass the state cut by a 10th of a second.
Warren senior Paige Wells, who qualified in the 100 free last year, took second in the NSC 50 free (24.29) and came right back with a 1:00.9 in the 100 fly. Vernon Hills junior Lisa Cheng will try to get to state after narrowly missing last year and freshman Lilly Hemesath was sixth last weekend in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.94) and less than two seconds off the state cut.
Lakes junior Madison Rinaldi, who qualified for state last year in the 100 back, swam 59.99 at the NSC meet that was .43 off the state cut. Grant junior Shannon Dague is looking to qualify in the 500 free after a 5:18.97 last week.
In diving, NSC champion Morgan Dunleavy of Libertyville and Mundelein's Kelsey Toland are looking for return trips to state. The sectional champions automatically qualify followed by the top 32 at-large scorers from across the state. The at-large point cutoffs the last three years have been 364.6, 369.05 and 363.1.