Girls swimming: Warren's Knott an inspiration to everyone
Don't ever tell Warren freshman swimmer Keegan Knott she has a disability.
She'll quickly discard it from her memory bank, and with a smile.
All Knott wants is to be a normal freshman girl excited about high school. And she is.
"I'm really excited to meet new people and do the best I can for the team," said Knott, who began swimming competitively at age 7 and has competed with U.S. Paralympics swimming since she was 9.
"I don't worry about others and what they think. I don't let it dictate anything."
What Knott is referring to is her right leg.
She was born with congenital femoral deficiency and fibular hemimelia in her right leg, which leaves her with a shorter femur and tibia, no fibula or right hip joint, and a fused right ankle.
"You just get used to it and live with it," she said. "I'm just looking forward to some great experiences. I really want to work on lowering my times."
Blue Devils coach Chris Bertana says Knott is one of the hardest workers on the team.
"She a great kid. She just gets up and goes," he said. "She's an inspiration to everyone."
Knott, for as young as she is, is well-traveled.
Over the summer, she spent two weeks in Peru swimming at the Para Pan American Games.
"What a great experience," she said, "meeting people from all over the world."
Along with her Devil teammates, Knott competed in the Lake Forest Relays on Saturday. She swam in the 500 crescendo relay and the 400 and 800 relays.
As a team, Warren finished ninth with 240 points. The highest finishers included Grace Bevers' third in the 50 sophomore freestyle (26.02), and the 400 freshman/sophomore freestyle, where Bevers joined Hailey Benoit, Chloe Yoder, and Olivia Buccelli to touch in 3:51.95.
Stevenson is always strong, especially in relays.
It showed Saturday for the Patriots, who finished second in the team standings (410) behind champion Evanston (418).
Stevenson won the opening 200 medley relay for freshmen and sophomores when Elizabeth White, Katherine Makarska, Milena Busma, and Isabelle Gattone swam a 1:52.15.
The 200 butterfly relay also picked up a victory when Busma, Jessica Nyborg, Maddy O'Donnell, and Claudia Rzeznik touched in 1:47.00. Nyborg, Lucy Stevens, Makarska, and Anna Ryaguzova then won the 200 breaststroke relay (2:08.66).
Busma, Abigail Collins, Gattone, and Rzeznik capped the day off by winning the 400 freestyle relay for freshmen and sophomores (3:43.63).
While most of the events were relays, there were individual events as well and Stevenson's Alexandra Eastmond won the 50 freestyle for juniors in 25.12 ticks.
After a third-place effort a year ago, the Vernon Hills Cougars backed it up with a solid fourth-place finish (325) Saturday.
"This is a great event to start the season. You get to integrate the entire team and figure out what combinations will work best," said Cougars second-year head coach A.J. Block.
Claudia Yoon, Isabella Ramos, Emma Zhang, and Casey Craffey got things rolling for the Cougars, winning the 400 medley relay (3:58.56).
Yoon, Ramos, Kate Williams, and Craffey also won the 200 backstroke relay (1:52.06). Vernon Hills capped off the day by winning the last event when Zhang, Ramos, Yoon, and Craffey won the 400 freestyle relay (3:39.01).
The tandem of seniors Ally Landis and captain Avery Longdon also won the diving relay earlier in the day.
Host Lake Forest finished a solid third with 334 points. The Scouts' 800 freestyle combo relay of Kendra Joachim, Claire Carden, Grace Gilleran, and Lauren Kingsley touched first in 8:40.26. Mary Grace King won the freshman 100 freestyle in 54.53, while Ashley Updike was a champion in the 100 senior-freestyle (54.90).
Buffalo Grove finished fifth in the team standings (308) and had a champion when Reese Frighetto swam a 25.07 and won the 50 freshman freestyle.
Mundelein was eighth (271) and showed plenty of promise for this fall.
The Mustangs return half of their state-qualifying medley relay in senior Angela Bowes and junior Audry Kasemets.
Kasemets was third in the 100 freestyle junior (56.18). She also led off the second-place 200 freestyle relay where she joined Riley Routledge, Anna Kokosinski, and Bowes to touch in 1:43.93.
"Our two freshmen (Routledge and Kokosinski) really stepped up in their first high school meet," said Mundelein coach Rahul Sethna. "This is a good season-opening meet. We're just happy to get in the water and compete to see where we're at. It's nice because everyone is involved in the relays and you get to experiment with different combinations."
Later in the day, Kasemets paired with Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Parduhn, and Routledge to finish second in the 200 breaststroke relay (2:09.49).