Girls swimming: Barrington dominates Stevenson sectional
The Stevenson girls swimming sectional Saturday was a chance for athletes to qualify for state or to break their best times. While relays are still functionally a team event, the sectional meet is focused more on individual triumph and advancement into the state competition. This year some recent and older pool records were crushed, while many swimmers sneaked into top spots or snagged state cuts giving spectators a taste of the exciting races that are to come at next weekend's state meet at Evanston.
Barrington topped Saturday's event with 405 points, closely followed by Stevenson in second (357) and Hersey in third (278). Fremd took fourth with a score of 219.
Starting the day right was the morning's diving session. After an exceptional display of diving mastery, the top eight placed at or well above the 400-score mark earning athletes a place at the state diving competition.
Barrington's Anna Mae King took the top place with an impressive final score of 431.40, while Palatine's Anais Gonzalez Posso was not far behind with a score of 426.90. Buffalo Grove's Vivian Wilson (421.15) and Gillian Karsten (412.25) claimed the third and fourth spots with scores that will certainly send them state-bound as well. Madison Malone (412.25) and Julia Schroeter from Prospect (403.20) and Amelia Smithson (403.30) and Allyson Blumenfeld from Hersey (402.15) also dove exceptionally well and may have a chances to break into the top spots at the state level.
Barrington has been setting its sights on placing higher at this year's state meet and with stellar individual performances and three commanding relay victories, this certainly is shaping up to be a very successful postseason for the Fillies.
Setting the tone for the rest of the meet for the Fillies was the state qualifying 200-yard medley relay team of Bridget O'Leary, Catherine Kitzman, Lilian Reader, and Alyssa Schwengel. In what can only be described as a photo finish, the Fillies' team out-touched the Stevenson relay and broke a pool record with their new time of 1:45.00.
O'Leary and Emily Bucaro would continue this momentum by claiming second and third in the 200 free with state qualifying times of 1:52.59 and 1:52.89 respectively.
Reader would go on to place second in the 200 individual medley (2:03.63) qualifying her for state, while teammate Maria Pritchett would snag the third-place position, qualifying for state with a time of 2:09.07.
Schwengel would claim the top spot in the 50 free with an impressive time of 24.38, just .01 off from the state cut, but will have another shot to drop next week at the state event after some much deserved rest.
Kitzman and Pritchett would both qualify for state in the 100 fly, with Kitzman claiming second place with time of 57.80 and Pritchett third with a time of 57.83.
Bucaro continued the trend of state cuts in every event for the Fillies, being the only other qualifier in the 100 free and posting a time of 52.96.
Maggie Graves and O'Leary set the tone for the second half of the meet, through their dominating leads in the 500 free. Graves not only qualified for state but crushed a pool record with an impressive time of 4:55.28. O'Leary held on and qualified for state with a time of 5:04.26.
"My goal was just to finish," said Graves. "The last 200 my arms felt really sore, but I just kept pushing through. I just kept thinking about setting myself up for state next week and I want to go faster."
The second half of the meet was met with more success for the Fillies. The 200 free relay team of Julia Vega, Schwengel, Reader, and Ally Penrod stormed ahead of the competition and seized first with a time 1:36.22.
Penrod would go on to win the breaststroke in a time of 1:05.08, setting herself up nicely for the state meet. Kitzman would not be far behind, placing second and qualifying for state with a time of 1:05.57.
The 400-yard free relay team of Reader, Bucaro, Penrod, and O'Leary would finish things off for the Fillies, securing their third relay victory and sending them to state with a time of 3:30.93.
"A lot of this season was getting to this point," said Barrington coach Alex Mikolajewski. "We knew we would be here, and we knew what our season-end goal was, now it's just going to take some resting and some good racing to make those goals real at state."
Hersey came very close to some state cuts with exceptional swims but could not claim any top spots.
Freshman Mollie Lumsden would qualify for two individual events, giving the Huskies some great representation at this year's state event.
Lumsden placed fourth in the 200 free with a time of 1:54.71 and fifth in the 100 back with a time of 57.77.
Fremd and Palatine shook up the earlier events in the meet by having swimmers shake up the projected ordering while claiming some new pool records for themselves.
Palatine's Jane Smith surprised spectators during the 200 free, showing she had enough grit to kick things into gear during her third 50 and inch ahead of her competition to win with a state qualifying time of 1:52.59.
"I just really wanted to hammer the back half of that race," Smith said. "I love racing teammates and it pushes me to swim fast." She added that in this final week before state she would be working hard to hold the pace for her middle hundred, while continuing to stay consistent at practice.
Smith would later take third in the 500 with another state qualifying time of 5:06.86.
The Vikings raised a few eyebrows as well after an impressive 200 IM victory by Sophia Kuehn. Having gained a lead in the breaststroke leg of the race, Kuehn would finish in a time of 2:03.63 dethroning a 10-year-old pool record and qualifying her for the state meet.
"I stuck to my own plan," said Kuehn. "I've got a great team behind me and that just makes races like these a whole lot easier."
Kuehn would also go on to advance to state in the 100 back with a qualifying time of 56.33.
"We talked a lot about having fun and being excited," said Fremd coach Andrew Kitrell, "We're a very tight team and the girls are very good at bringing out each other's strengths. As we move forward, we're going to enjoy the moment and continue to have fun."
Other impressive swims came from Sophia Goushina of Lake Zurich, who qualified in the 100 back with a time of 55.77
Another top state contender is Stevenson, which claimed a few top finishes throughout the meet while also sending its three relays to state as well for a chance to improve after a long week of rest.
Individual victories by Claudia Rzeznick in the fly (57.67) and Ashley Corollo in the 100 back (55.44) were key factors to some of the Patriots' success.
Jessica Nyborg also stepped up, placing third in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.05) and qualifying for state.
Stevenson's 200 medley relay team of Carrollo, Nyborg, Rzeznick, and Maddy O'Donnell, the 200 free relay team of Corollo, O'D'Donnell, Rzeznick, and Abigail Li, and the 400 free relay team of O'Donnell, Carollo, Li, and Lucy Stevens all qualified for state giving the Patriots another chance to beat their seed times and help them toward their goal of placing higher at state.
At Downers Grove North: The Mollin sisters will represent Schaumburg at the state meet in three events. Freshman Nina Mollin won the 200 individual medley in a time of 2:05.25 while her junior sister Hana was third in the event in 2:08.42. Hana Mollin then won the 100 backstroke in a time of 58.37 while Nina advanced in the 100 breaststroke by finishing third in a qualifying time of 1:05.59. Maine West senior diver Victoria Fleming finished third and advanced to state after scoring 370.55 points. Downers North won the team championship with 293 points, Glenbard West (270.50) was second and Schaumburg (156) third.