Girls swimming: One very special sectional at Barrington
There seemed to be something special about the water at Barrington.
Especially the swimmers racing in it.
It was quite a collection of those on Saturday afternoon, as most of the Mid-Suburban League girls swimming and diving teams plus a standout Stevenson squad gathered for their sectional meet in hopes of advancing to next weekend's high school state championships at New Trier.
Four pool records fell, two of them claimed by Barrington senior Kirsten Jacobsen, as the host Fillies took the team championship with 280 points.
Palatine senior Kristin Anderson was also a double winner and set a pool record in the 100-yard freestyle (51.54), and Fremd senior Grace Grzybek won the 100 back in a pool-record 56.09.
Stevenson finished a close second in the team race (264), followed by Fremd (212), Palatine (188), St. Viator (98) and Prospect (93).
Jacobsen's efforts were representative of an ultra-successful day for Barrington. The Arizona-bound standout added to her legacy by winning the 200-yard freestyle in 1:50.40 and the 500 free in 4:51.51.
All three Barrington relays qualified for state -- and that was just the beginning.
"It's a pretty amazing feeling," said Barrington senior Sarah Kate Capel. "I've never been more proud to be part of this team."
Fillies sophomore Maggie Menso earned her first trip to state with a lifetime-best 1:53.05 third-place finish in the 200 free. That marks nearly a six-second drop from her best prior to this season.
"It felt great," she said. "I had a feeling it was going to be good, but you're never sure until you look up and check the time."
Capel earned a second straight trip to state in the 50 free, finishing second in 24.23. Sophomore Maggie Emary qualified in both the 500 free (second, 4:59.38) and in the 200 IM (third, 2:08.46). Freshman Bridget O'Leary qualified in the 50 free and sophomore Emma Graves advanced in the 100 fly.
Barrington won both freestyle relays, and Emary, Catherine Kitzman, Graves and Capel teamed up for a state-qualifying effort in the medley.
"We had a couple of near-misses," said Barrington coach Jim Bart, "but you always have that at a sectional meet. I'm really pleased with everything today -- especially those freestyle relays. Our kids showed great character to be able to win both of those."
Anderson said she benefitted from a little bit of extra motivation from coach Brittany Berleman before the 100 free.
"She kind of took me aside and mentioned what the pool record was," said Anderson. "And I'm like, 'OK, well, I'm sure going to try.' And it worked out pretty well."
Anderson won the 50 free in 23.66 and will have company on deck at the state meet, as teammates Ellis Nelson, Kelsey Hank and Tess O'Brien qualified the team's 200 free relay to state for a second straight year. They finished second in 1:37.70. Nelson, a sophomore, also made it in the 200 IM (second, 2:08.45), and Lizzie Johns finished third in diving with a score of 379.80.
For Stevenson, the afternoon was a happy continuation of the previous week's success in the North Suburban Conference meet.
"We really exceeded what I thought we could do at conference," said Patriots coach Kevin Zakrzewski, "so today it was just about extending that feeling. These girls never fail to surprise me. All year, whether we're swimming tired or whatever, they somehow find the energy they need and get it done."
Leading the way were sectional champs Irune Andres (200 IM, 2:06.87) and Rachel Song (100 fly, 57.06). Senior Casey Kirby was second in both the 100 free (52.45) and 100 back (56.50, a school record), sophomore Iza Pelka was second in the 200 free (1:52.65) and third in the 100 free (52.48). Andres also made state in the 500 free (5:03.64), and junior Jessica Lenhart advanced in the 100 fly (second, 58.00).
Song had legs on all three relays, which might have been the the most pleasant part of the day for the Patriots, as all three made state, including a winning effort from Ashley Carrollo, Danielle Fang, Song and Kirby in the medley (1:47.02). Zakrzewski said he thought the 400 free relay might be able to finish in 3:34 -- it finished second, in 3:30.84.
"The mood with our team all year has been so great," Song said. "It's just been really special."
Grzybek's mood after the 100-yard backstroke could best be described as elation -- with a hint of skepticism.
Maybe more than a hint. Her mouth formed a perfect 'O' as she looked at her time on the scoreboard.
"I was in complete disbelief," Grzybek said. "Kind of unreal."
And it typified Fremd's entire afternoon. The Vikes qualified the medley relay, the 400 free relay and had another sectional champ in Rebecca Ballo, who won the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.10. Grzybek also made state with a fourth-place finish in the 200 IM (2:08.99), and Becca Rutkowski made it in the 50 free (24.34).
Fremd junior Emily Kini had one of the day's feel-good moments, winning her next-to-last heat of the 100 free in 53.19 -- just barely under the state standard.
"I'm so proud of all my teammates," said Grzybek. "We had younger swimmers all over the place stepping up and accepting responsibility in a way that I never did -- never had to -- when I was their age. They accepted the challenge and excelled."
Including Fremd sophomore diver Carly Goodsite, who finished second in diving with a score of 388.5.
Diving was won by St. Viator's Elizabeth Drab at 406.95. That's quite a different chapter in her story, after failed dives in both the conference and sectional meets last season disqualified her in those meets. This year, she's both a conference and sectional champion.
The Lions also got strong efforts from senior Jackie Rose in the 200 free (fifth, 1:57. 41) and the 100 free (seventh, in a school-record 54.48).
Rolling Meadows senior Bailey Rowley delivered a lifetime best in the 100 fly (sixth, 1:01.07) and Prospect's top placement came from junior Gracie Dix in the 50 free (fifth, 24.75).
at Downers Grove North: Schaumburg Christian senior Gabby Mathys will be a pioneer for her school at the state meet after winning a pair of sectional races.
Mathys, who will swim for Pepperdine next year, won the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle at Downers Grove North. Those efforts mean she'll be the first to represent Schaumburg Christian in an IHSA championship event, as the Conquerors only gained IHSA membership this year.
Mathys won the 200 free in 1:57.99 and the 500 free in 5:06.08.
Conant senior Sam Wooley also had a memorable meet, qualifying as an individual in the 50 free in 24.48 -- just two one-hundredths of a second better than the qualifying standard.
Maine West junior Julia Boesche was a double winner in the freestyle sprints. She won the 50 in 24.39 and the 100 free in 52.45.
Glenbard West (239) edged York (230.5) for top team honors.
at Glenbrook North: Hersey sophomore Olivia Kusio earned her second straight appearance in the state meet, easily bettering the state-qualifying standard with a sixth-place finish in 1:06.11.
Huskies diver Madeline Bovino placed eighth in a very tough group with a score of 388.80.