An exciting day for the Bartlett-Streamwood co-op ended with a moment to remember when the team's 400-yard relay quartet produced a race to remember in the concluding event of the St. Charles East girls swimming sectional.
Pushed to the front of the race thanks to freshman Kayla Filipek's efforts, the team stayed near the front by the end of sophomore Sarah Hanning's 100-yard leg. Freshman Brianna Cichon and sophomore Meagan Cummins were unable stay with ultimate race winner St. Charles East -- but the relay finished third and swam faster than the state qualifying standard to earn its trip to Friday's IHSA prelims at New Trier.
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"It was a very exciting ending," Bartlett coach Jeremy Meserole said. "That was four great 100's. To be out in front, that was kind of the game plan. If we could challenge the lead, every girl carried the excitement into her swim. That was awesome."
On a day when St. Charles East was the meet's runaway winner and St. Charles North finished second, the Bartlett-Streamwood co-op finished third.
"It was a very exciting day for everybody," Meserole said. "We had great swims from everybody, big time drops across the board. Every kid fed off the previous swim, which was really good and exciting."
The afternoon was a series of successes for the co-op -- starting with Filipek's sectional championship in the 50 freestyle. Filipek swam 23.57, more than a half-second faster than second-placed Shea Hoyt from St. Charles East.
Filipek followed with the sectional title in the 100 freestyle -- with her 52.27 time well ahead of second place finisher Kate Nagler from St. Charles East. Both qualifying times were Filipek's fastest of the season.
"I'm really excited and tired -- but it's worth it," Filipek said. "I think I can work on my turns. But I'm happy."
Bartlett has never had a swimmer medal in the state meet, and Filipek didn't mention that as a goal. The last state qualifier from the school was Stephanie Hasenberg, who qualified in the 500 freestyle in 2008.
"I just want to go faster," Filipek said. "I'm just going to keep trying and hopefully get better."
By the time Filipek qualified in the 100 freestyle, she had company for the trip to the state finals.Hanning qualified in the 100 butterfly after finishing fifth -- then finished fourth in the 100 backstroke and qualified in that event as well.
"It's definitely a great feeling," Hanning said. "I've had a lot of 'downs' this season -- breaking my toe and getting sick. This is a good pick-me-up for state."
Hanning confirmed that she is fully healthy as she prepares for the state meet.
"My times I went today aren't my best times, but they're pretty close. I'm pretty confident for state. I'm going to be more tapered for state, so I hope I can drop more time.
Burlington Central gained a state qualifier when junior Ashley Stark swam to fourth place in the 50 freestyle. Her 24.46 time was narrowly under the 24.68 state qualifying time.
"For a second, I had to look at (the time) and I was like 'oh wait, oh wait, that's what I wanted -- yes!" Stark said.
Failure to qualify to the state meet helped spur Stark toward this year's success.
"I did a lot of things different than last year," Stark said. "I feel like I've been working harder than last year. I didn't lift or do any training outside of the pool last year. This year, I focused on that and worked on that, and I think that definitely helped a lot."
Stark is Burlington Central's first state qualifier since Courtney Van Oost, who swam in two events in the state finals in 2009. Stark's afternoon in New Trier will be among the most brief -- she will prepare and compete in her event -- which will finished in less than 25 seconds. But if it is the shortest race in a high school meet, it is also the one which allows for the fewest mistakes.
"There's so little time to think about it," Stark said. "You have to have it all down before you go into it."