Girls swimming: Scouting the state meet, Northwest
The IHSA state girls swimming and diving meet hosted by Evanston Township High School will begin its preliminaries Friday with the morning diving session at 9 a.m., followed by the swimming preliminaries at 1 p.m. Finals will be Saturday starting at 11 a.m.
Three-time defending state champion Rosary is back and heading into this year's state meet with strong relay teams and stand out individual qualifier. The top competitors from last year -- St. Charles North, New Trier, and Naperville Central -- are returning in similar strong seedings and are looking to shake things up across the board, setting up what could be a very exciting meet on all levels of competition.
After stellar sectional performances and in the running for higher overall placements are Barrington, Lyons, and Stevenson.
This year also boasts a lot of young athletes eager to claim individual state victories for their own, as the only returning event winner is Oswego East junior Grace Cooper in the 100-yard free.
St. Charles North seems to be the team to watch as it has the depth and desire to claim the title of state champions. The North Stars have strong competitors in junior Megan Armstrong and senior Mallory Jump, while their 400 freestyle relay team could round things out and secure the win.
Armstrong is seeded second in the 100-yard backstroke. Teammate Mallory Jump (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly) is racing against some fast competitors from Maine South, Fremd, and Barrington ensuring that there will be an exciting race. Individual victories from both these athletes could set St. Charles North up for great success.
Barrington commanded a strong lead throughout its sectional meet, qualifying all three of its relays, while also qualifying a lot of individual athletes.
With a lot of depth and many of their individual qualifiers in the higher heats, there is sure to be a lot of success for the Fillies.
Leading the way for the Fillies is sophomore Maggie Graves, who posted an impressive time at the Stevenson sectional in the 500-yard freestyle, crushing a previous meet record while setting herself up nicely for what may be a state victory. Freshman Lillian Reader is also poised for great success in the 200 IM and will certainly be in contention for a top spot going into finals. Barrington's strong relay teams, especially the 200 medley team of Bridget O'Leary, Catherine Kitzman, Reader, and Ally Penrod and the 400 freestyle relay team of Reader, Emily Bucaro, Penrod, and O'Leary, will be integral to achieving the Fillies' goal of placing higher overall at this year's state competition.
The Mid-Suburban League has other strong representation with athletes from Fremd, Palatine, Schaumburg, and Hersey.
Fremd junior Sophia Kuehn is seeded second in the 200 IM and is looking to be an athlete to watch at this state event. After a phenomenal sectional performance in which she crushed a pool record and dropped heavily from her seed time, Kuehn was excited to continue having fun and working toward improving her already stellar time. Kuehn will also be swimming in the 100-yard backstroke and is seeded fourth.
Jane Smith returns to represent Palatine, once again qualifying in both the 200 and 500 freestyles. Smith attacked her turns and looked strong at the Stevenson sectional and will certainly be in the running for breaking into the finals in the 200 freestyle.
The Mollin sisters, freshman Nina and junior Hana, represent Schaumburg in the 200 IM while Hana Mollin will also be swimming in the 100 backstroke and Nina Mollin be representing the Saxons in the 100-yard breaststroke. Nina Mollin is seeded fourth in the IM.
Hersey freshman Mollie Lumsden represents the MSL East qualifying for the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke and getting some state experience under her belt. Lumsden is in the middle of the pack, but with adrenaline high and lots of support from her team and coach anything is possible at this state level competition.
On the boards, this year's diving competition will prove to be as exciting as ever with many new and returning top contenders making a splash in the waters at Evanston. Barrington's Anna Mae King, who dominated the Stevenson diving competition, is sitting in the middle of the pack with a score of 431.40. Not far behind is Palatine's Anais Gonzalez Posso, who is seeded 23rd with a score of 426.90. Other MSL representatives are Prospect's Madison Malone and Julie Shcroeter and Buffalo Grove's Vivian Wilson and Gillian Karsten.