Girls swimming: Kaneland's Hayes wins 2 state titles
And she's just a sophomore.
Kaneland's Leah Hayes showed the state why her future in girls swimming is so bright, everyone is going to have to wear shades.
Hayes easily won titles in both of her events at Saturday's IHSA girls swimming and diving state championships at the brand-new FMC Natatorium in Westmont.
She set a state record in the 200-yard individual medley, beating her state record set in the preliminaries Friday, with a time of 1:56.62. That also put her within spitting distance of the national record of 1:53.82.
With two years to go, could Hayes break that mark? Time will tell.
For the moment, she's just a kid having fun in the pool. She led her "team" to a 14th-place finish in the meet with 32 points.
Later in the meet, she got pushed a little by New Trier senior Carly Novelline, but ultimately won her second championship in 48.34 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle. Novelline was second at 49.02.
"It's an incredible experience," she said, "and universally, it proves that hard work can help you accomplish anything. I worked really hard with my coach. I worked on the little details that make the difference."
Her coach, Busse Carson, was bursting with pride, naturally. What does Hayes do well in the water?
"Everything," Carson said. "Her underwater was significantly better from sectionals to prelims yesterday. She is just phenomenal underwater. She is so efficient."
It was a challenging day for St. Charles North, which finished fifth as a team with 97 points, but didn't crown a state champion and had no swimmer or relay finish higher than third place.
Senior Paige Armstrong logged a third-place finish in the 100 backstroke, with a time 55.98 seconds, exactly one second behind runner-up Madison Dohrn from Schaumburg. She also took 11th in the 200 freestyle in 1:53.11.
Armstrong also led off the North Stars' 200 medley relay, which took fourth in 1:44.07. Joining her in that effort were seniors Angelina Messina, Jillian Wilson and Julia Fifer.
"My sister used to be the 100 back-stroker at our school, and she won her junior year and took second her senior year," Armstrong said. "After she left, my coach was like, 'Why don't you try doing it?' I ended up being the top one on our team."
Rosary continued its impressive state run with a seventh-place team finish with 52 points, one ahead of perennial state power Stevenson.
The Beads were led by freshman Becky Rentz, who coach Glenn Brown said was "swimming angry" after her 200 medley relay team was disqualified.
No matter. Rentz rose up and took second in the 100 butterfly in 54.09, about a second behind the winner, Deerfield sophomore Annika Parkhe. She also swam legs on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
"Our medley relay got DQ'd, so I was a little upset about that, and I tried to push through and go faster the next time," Rentz said. "I think I did."