Girls swimming: Warren has fun winning Hersey's Jamboree
In the Hersey Jamboree, one key objective for every girls swimming and diving team is simply to have fun.
This explains the inclusion of music playing while races are being contested, widespread dance moves on the pool deck and hugs from the dashing young men of the Hersey homecoming court for those young ladies fortunate enough to be top-six finishers.
Lately, too, this meet seems to be about swimming very fast.
Leading the way in that endeavor Saturday at Prospect was Warren.
The Blue Devils were the class of a 15-team field, finishing with 393 points to better Maine South (320) and Hersey (313). Jacobs/Hampshire was fourth at 263, followed by Mundelein (233), Prospect (174), Palatine (144) and Buffalo Grove (111).
Pool and meet records fell regularly as coach Chris Bertana's team added to what is clearly a special team for the Blue Devils.
Carissa Barker, Jackie Goldman, Emily Wong and Megan Wong got things started by breaking both the pool and meet record in the medley relay, finishing in 1:51.28.
Alyssa Church followed a few minutes later with a pool record in the 200 free (1:58.05).
Barker won the 50 free in 24.81, and Anni Stingle and Emily Wong came up with a 1-2 finish in the 100 fly with a pair of sub-minute clockings.
Barker, Church, Danielle Glisovich and Megan Wong lowered the pool and meet records in the 200 free relay to 1:39.68. Barker won the 100 back in a pool-record 59.68.
And Warren last's swim of the day established pool and meet records, with Church, Glisovich, Emily Wong and Megan Wong finishing the 400 free relay in 3:38.73.
The last leg was especially satisfying for Megan Wong, who came up with her first 100 free split under 54 seconds (53.83), flashing a big grin to her coach and teammates at race's end.
"What's making this season so fun for us is that we have so many people that are really contributing," she said.
Bertana understands that this Warren group is capable of some special things this season.
"We think we have the kind of team that can win the (North Suburban) conference," he said. "So that's one of the things that's our focus. We've had people stepping up in a lot of spots, including today."
Maine South's Annika Wagner did some next-level stepping up, winning both the 200 IM (2:05.40) and 500 free (5:00.91) and crushing the pool and meet records in both events. Included in her day's work was a jaw-dropping 50.10 split on the Hawks' runner-up 400 free relay.
It's a testament to the strength of Warren and Maine South that Hersey finished third. Coach Dick Mortensen is calling this group of Huskies the best dual-meet squad in the school's history.
Olivia Kusio again led Hersey's effort, coming up with victories in both the 100 free (53.64) and the 100 breaststroke (1:07.41), both season-best efforts. Changing up her approach seems to have benefited the Huskies' standout senior.
"I took a little time off in the summer, and I think that really helped," she said. "I was getting a little frustrated, but having that time let me see myself a little differently. It reminded me that I love the sport, and that it's just time to make everything count. I feel like maybe I've matured a little bit more, too.
"There's no reason I can't have a great season, including the state meet."
Kusio had a leg on the runner-up medley relay, joining Shannon Blumenfeld, Julia Gerstung and Claire Fink for a 1:51.52 clocking that's already within a couple seconds of the team record. Hersey also had the runner-up 200 free relay, with Bianca Teves, Isa Hahn, Maddie Irvine and Claire Lutz touching at 1:43.27.
Among the other top swims for Hersey were a third-place finish from Lutz in the 50 free (25.41), a third from Blumenfeld in the 500 free (5:27.82), a fourth from Fink in the 100 free (55.93) and fifths from Teves in the 100 fly (1:01.70) and Irvine in the 200 free (2:03.27).
Adding to the quality of the field was Jacobs/Hampshire, which got runner-up individual finishes from Jennifer Tokarz in the 200 free (1:58.5) and 500 free (5:21.52) and from Izzy Bavaro in the 100 back (1:01.20).
Mundelein's top efforts came in the 100 breast, where teammates Angela Kordik and Adry Kasemets tied for third (1:11.80). The Mustangs also saw Angela Bowes take third in the 100 back (1:01.64), and diver Maggie Franz placed third with a score of 360.90.
"We like coming here," said Mundelein coach Rahul Sethna. "I know the girls really look forward to it because it's not just another meet on the schedule. And over the years, the teams have gotten really fast so it's become a great meet."
Palatine's best finishes came from Kate Burianova, who was second in the 50 free (25.02) and third in the 100 fly (1:01.29).
The best finish for Prospect was the 200 free relay, where Caitlin Bauer, Amanda Baenke, Jackie Vierneisel and Katie Mueller placed third in 1:44.94. The Knights also placed fifth in the 400 free relay and got a sixth-place finish from Baenke in the 200 IM (2:19.46).