Girls swimming: Stevenson wins meet but Libertyville's Gleason shines
The girls state swimming and diving meet in November couldn't come soon enough for Libertyville junior Emma Gleason.
As a sophomore, she fell ill the week of the state finals, but still gutted her way to an eighth-place medal in the consolation heat finals in her best event, the 100 butterfly (55.53).
"I knew I could have gone lower (my time), but it is what it is," said Gleason. "You just have to stay positive. And never stop having fun, because when that stops, your momentum and morale goes down."
Well, after a successful summer participating in Junior Nationals in California, Gleason is way ahead of where she was at this point last year. She's already eclipsed the state qualifying mark (57.99) in the 100 fly three times in the first couple of weeks of the new season.
That included Thursday evening, when Stevenson came calling for the North Suburban opener.
Gleason swam a 57.02 while also picking up victories in the 200 freestyle (1:58.36) and 200 medley relay, where she paired with Anna Heard, Alex Eastmond, and Paige Rankin to touch in 1:52.65.
"I've been working a lot on my breathing from side to side," said Gleason, whose goal in the 100 fly is 53. Or, "whatever it takes to win state."
Eastmond and Rankin are also returning state qualifiers for the Wildcats. Against the Patriots, Eastmond also picked up victories in the 100 freestyle (54.84) and 100 backstroke (1:00.50).
"We are very junior-heavy team, so as long as we chip away here and there and keep progressing," said Cats coach Erik Rogers.
As far as Stevenson goes, they are always a threat whenever they enter the pool, and it was the depth factor that helped them pull away for the 118-68 conference victory Thursday night.
"The potential is there. We just have to get more varsity experience," said Stevenson coach Kevin Zakrzewski.
"We know we have a lot of work to put in and not sure of our approach yet. But we could do something special this fall."
After the Cats won the first two events of the evening, Jessica Nyborg got things going by winning the 200 IM in 2:14.92. She then later won the 100 breaststroke in 1:10.00.
Claudia Rzeznik also picked up victories in the 50 freestyle and the 200 freestyle relay, where she teamed with Li Abigail, Maddy O'Donnell, and Lauren Maloney to touch in 1:44.48.
Amy Sliwicki won diving (200.55), while Jennifer Xiong won the 500 freestyle (5:31.44).
Xiong also swam anchor on the winning 400 free relay, where she paired with O'Donnell, Lucy Stevens, and Li to touch in 3:43.69, for the Pats, who won 7 out of 12 events.
Stevens and O'Donnell are returning state qualifiers from last November.
Stevenson was without one of its top swimmers in senior Ashley Carollo, a four-time state qualifier who has committed September for recruiting visits.
"She'll be back in October, so it's good for us to get some experience and how to compete without having our in-water leader," mentioned Zakrzewski.