Girls swimming and diving: Prospect too strong for Wagner, Maine South
Maine South senior swimmer Annika Wagner showed onlookers why she is a candidate for the U.S. Olympic swimming team after qualifying in the 200 individual medley.
Wagner won the 200-yard free over rival Jane Smith from Palatine in a 1:51.87, then topped Smith in the 500 in 5:02.58.
As good an effort that Wagner and other Hawks produced, host Prospect won all three divisions in the second annual Battle Royale II. Maine South won the event last season.
"We performed well as a team," said Prospect coach Alfonso Lopez. "Our team had a good time. We had some season and lifetime bests. It was nice to win this invite, but we were able to work on things that can help us to perform better."
Prospect won the varsity event with 264 points to Jones-Payton Prep from Chicago 248 points. Maine South finished third followed by Highland Park, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Rockford Guilford, and Maine East.
The Knights took first place in diving with Payton DeCook outpointing Palatine's Sydney Aikman 394.90 to 386.60.
Grace Dembowski of Prospect defeated Natalie Wajda of Maine South 2:15.73 to 2:19.01 in the 200 IM. She also won the 100 yard backstroke by .47 seconds of Wajda in a 1:01.07 to set a meet record.
"I was really nervous about the 200," Dembowski said, "because my opponent (Wajda) is very good. But I went into the event with a good, positive attitude and I went for it. I needed to start out strong and pick it up at the end."
Erin Danielewicz took hope the 100 fly in a 1:01.68 over Maine South's Nelly Hadlaw, who finished one second behind. Prospect's Jolana Babjak finished third.
Bella Kowalczyk and Gurleen Virk finished 4-5 in the 500 freestyle won by Wagner.
The Knights finished second in the 200 free relay with Dembowski, Danielewicz, Caitlin Bauer and Jackie Vierneisel behind Jones-Payton by .07. A strong finish by Jones-Payton standout Charlie Pilot gave it the event win.
"It was great for us to win this meet," Danielewicz said. "Winning on all three levels shows that our heart and dedication is showing up in our meets. We had a lot of smiles on our faces today. The only place for us to go as a team is up."
Pilot won the 50 free varsity in 24:45, anchored the 200 free relay to edge the Knights and helped to start the final 400 relay before teammate Saffron Chiu outclosed Maine South's Kasia Lorenc in the final half lap to win the event.
Lorenc and teammate Chloe Bai of Maine South finished 1-2 in the 100 breaststroke.
Wagner will swim at Northwestern next year and looks to major in an area of science.
"She's a pleasure to coach," said Maine South coach Don Kura. "She doesn't look for attention. She's humble and unassuming. I just feel that it's a privilege to have coached her for three-plus years."
"I've been swimming since I've been 6," Wagner said. "My brother got me into swimming and I wasn't very good at first. I just practiced a lot and by doing so, it will get you where you want to go. Going to Dublin, Ireland, for the international meet was a great experience and to see swimmers of a high caliber.
"Right now I would also like to go for the 200 freestyle and the 400 IM."