Girls swimming and diving: Mid-Suburban League meet preview
Girls swimming: Scouting the MSL meet
Where: Conant High School
When: Saturday -- diving begins at 9 a.m.; swimming begins at 1 p.m.
Team outlook: Barrington is the defending meet champion and went undefeated through its MSL West duals this season. The Broncos are ranked No. 10 in the state by Swimming in Illinois. Fremd lost just once in the MSL (to Barrington), and Hersey was the East champ for a third straight year after a perfect run against its divisional foes. Count Palatine, Conant and Prospect as the three next teams most likely to round out the top six.
The Fillies' relay strength and quality depth clearly makes them the team to beat. Senior standout Maggie Emary will race in the 200 IM and 100 back (and not the 200 or 500 freestyles) in an effort to maximize team points, and Barrington has all of its individual entries seeded in the top six -- including the 1-2 spots in the 100 fly, the 100 back and the 100 breast. The Fillies' incredible depth is less of a factor in the conference meet setting, where each team gets only two entries per individual event. But they still have a clear advantage over the field thanks to standouts such as Ally Penrod, Catherine Kitzman, Emma Pritchett, Julie Vega, Becca Galovich, Gracie Roper, Emma Graves, Maggie Graves and Elisabeth Graves.
Fremd would love to narrow the gap from last year's conference meet and has the kind of team capable of making a big jump. The Vikes are seeded No. 2 in all three relays and have great second-swimmer depth throughout the lineup, along with experienced top competitors such as Sophia Kuehn, Emily Bolger, Lauren Savage, Rebecca Ballo, Kristini Buzuloiu and Marie Grzybek.
Hersey's effort figures to be led by senior standout Olivia Kusio. This team, which coach Dick Mortensen considers the best dual-meet team in program history, has three solid relays and individual scoring opportunities throughout from the likes of Bianca Teves, Isa Hahn, Maddie Irvine, Claire Fink, Claire Lutz and Shannon Blumenfeld.
Palatine has enough depth for two terrific relays (the medley and 200 free) along with individual standouts Jane Smith, Ellis Nelson and Kate Burianova.
Conant's lineup balance is a plus, with Aly Wooley, Megumi Komoto, Esther Song, Sarah Erne and Kayla Wartman leading the way. Prospect's challenge is taking its consistent group and finding events in which to crack the top six. The Knights have all three relays seeded in the top six, but no individuals slated for the final heat.
Sophomore standout Hana Mollin will give Schaumburg a big lift in the 200 IM and 100 fly, and the Saxons also have finalists in Lynda Steen and Ingrid Hay. Buffalo Grove's top entrant is Emily Schulstad, seeded fifth in both the 200 free and 500 free ... Rolling Meadows' 400 free relay of Jenna Windhorst, Jenna Pors, Abby Wiltse and Ashley Hintz is seeded No. 6, the same seed Hintz has in the 100 back ... Freshman Natalie Wlodarz is Elk Grove's highest seed at No. 7 in the 200 free ... Hoffman Estates is concentrating its efforts on the relays, with Renata Widelak and Benita Varanauskaite taking legs on all three of them ... Wheeling's Meghan Hergert is the No. 9 seed in the 100 free and No. 10 in the 50.
Top seeds: Barrington leads with way, with all three top spots in the relays plus junior Penrod in the 200 IM (2:09.83) and 100 breast (1:05.91) and freshman Emma Pritchett in the 100 fly (57.78) and 100 back (59.71). Palatine sophomore Smith has pole position in both the 200 free (1:56.85) and 500 free (5:07.49), Fremd senior Bolger is tops in the 50 free (24.71) and Hersey senior Kusio is the top entrant in the 100 free (53.64).
Take your mark: Conference meet records that could be threatened include the 200 medley relay of 1:47.89 (set by Barrington in 2006), the 200 IM record of 2:07.88 (set by Barrington's Emily Fogle in 2009) and the 400 free relay record of 3:34.58 (set by Barrington in 2012).
They're back: Competitors who won races in last year's MSL meet include Barrington's Emary (200 IM and 100 back), Penrod (200 IM and breaststroke) and Becca Galovich (200 free). Hersey's Madeline Bovino is the diving defending champ. Barrington junior Bridget O'Leary won both the 50 and 100 freestyles last year but is not entered in this year's meet.
Last hurrah: Among the seniors competing in their final MSL meets and having earned spots in the fastest heats are Barrington's Emma Graves, Conant's Wooley and Song, Schaumburg's Hay, Palatine's Nelson and Fremd's Grzybek and Ballo.
Fresh faces: Freshmen sure to make an impact after earning appearances in final individual heats (in addition to Barrington's Emma Pritchett) are Conant's Komoto (200 IM, 100 fly), Rolling Meadows' Hintz (100 back), Barrington's Reader (50 free) and Maggie Graves (500 free) and Hersey's Shannon Blumenfeld (500 free).
Taking the plunge: Diving gets the day started and features a deeper-than-usual field with a large group of athletes capable of top-three finishes. Tops among them are Fremd's Carly Goodsite and Colleen Kochanski, Hersey's Madeline Bovino and Amelie Smithson, Hoffman Estates' Abigail Fuscone, Barrington's Anna King and Nicole Barcroft, Buffalo Grove's Vivian Wilson and Gillian Karsten, Prospect's Julia Schroeter and Jillian Schmit, Wheeling's Anna Emery and Palatine's Anais Gonzalez Posso and Sydney Aikman.
-- Aaron Gabriel