The winner, in this case, was anyone who cares about fighting ALS.
Yes, Fremd's girls swimming and diving team had the higher score in Thursday's meet at Hoffman Estates. The outcome was expected as the defending Mid-Suburban League champs visited a program that by comparison is still getting its feet wet at the varsity level.
Irrespective of the Vikings' 90-65 varsity victory, both teams were thrilled to be part of the Duel in the Pool, an effort to raise funds and awareness about the disease.
The impetus for the occasion came from Hoffman Estates assistant coach Kristen Houle. ALS claimed her father, Larry, in August, just shy of his 54th birthday.
He'd have been impressed with the pomp and circumstance in the Hoffman Estates pool on Thursday, which included:
• A performance from the school's pep band.
• A walk-through from the Hoffman Estates varsity football team.
• Appearances by principal James Britton and athletic director Steve Lacni.
And the over-riding message was clear: Here's a fight everyone can take part in, and be proud of. Hoffman Estates head coach Chris Fetterman credited Houle and the rest of the Hawks coaching staff for bringing all the elements together.
"Everybody helped out, and I think it's been a big success, both in terms of raising some money and in bringing a better understanding that this is an area where people can really make a difference," he said.
Fetterman likes the consistency from his team, as a generally young group is delivering more predictable results. Sarah Miles had a victory in the 100-meter fly (1:09.87), Jessica Sullivan was second in the 50 free (29.77), and the Hawks relays were all competitive.
Fremd, meanwhile, is gearing up for a weekend invitational at Naperville North before next Thursday's dual against Barrington, which will determine the Mid-Suburban West champion. Both Fremd and Barrington have been essentially unchallenged by their MSL foes to date.
Fremd coach Andrew Kittrell is particularly pleased with the recent gains made by his top two breaststrokers, Sam Barry and Shae Taylor. Before the season the stroke was an area of concern, but it's recently become a strength; Barry had the fastest 100 breast time (1:22.71), with Taylor right behind (1:23.65).
Another bright spot was a strong anchor leg on the 400 free relay from junior Erica King, who didn't have much recovery time between the relay and her winning 100 back effort.
"Everyone's swimming tired," said Kitrell. "It's great to see that we have girls, like Erica, who can fight through that and really compete."
Barrington d. Schaumburg: The host Fillies improved to 4-0 against MSL West foes, getting wins from Emma Barnett (200 IM, 100 free), Tiffany Soto (diving, 191.55) and all three relays in a 128-58 decision.
Sydney Skibinski (100 breast) and Abigail Langlotz (50 free) were winners for Schaumburg.
Palatine d. Conant: A strong finish over the meet's final events helped visiting Palatine top Conant 114-82. The Pirates won both freestyle relays and got a 1-2-3 finish in the 100 back from Katelyn Kurrie, Kelsey Hank and Carline Wojtas.
Kristin Anderson won both the 50 free (28.47) and the 100 free (1:03.21) for Palatine. Other key outcomes for the Pirates were Amy Zahn and Lily Zahn going 1-2 in the 200 free, and Amy Zahn and Laura Mayer finishing 1-2 in the 100 fly.
Winners for Conant included Allison Cicero in the 200 IM, Emily Weingart in diving and Lea Cejvan in the 100 breast.
Buffalo Grove d. Rolling Meadows: The host Bison overcame a disqualified medley relay, winning the meet-ending 400 free relay to claim a 94-92 victory.
Sarah Morosan delivered victories in the 200 and 500 freestyles for BG and had anchor legs on both winning freestyle relays.
Bailey Rowley won the 100 fly, Teresa Perille won the 100 back and Anna Frantom and Jessie Ligenza went 1-2 in the 100 breast for Rolling Meadows.
Prospect d. Wheeling: The Knights improved to 4-0 in the MSL East with one meet left after a 130-54 victory over Wheeling. Betsy Rozow won the 50 free and the 100 back, and Dana Liva won diving to lead the way for the Knights.
Theresa Godlewski had winning efforts for Wheeling in the 100 fly and 500 free.