Girls swimming: St. Charles North captures sectional crown
St. Charles North girls swim coach Rob Rooney has been seeking an identity all season for his 2019 North Stars.
Rooney may have found it Saturday at the St. Charles North sectional.
The North Stars, fourth in the state a year ago, swam to their own sectional championship with a score of 317 points.
The state finals are next Friday and Saturday at New Trier High School.
"We have been wrestling with our identity all season," said the North Stars coach. "We lost so many seniors from last year. We are putting kids in different roles. It has been a process. I was really pleased with our performance today. It was a total team effort. We know the state meet will be a challenge next week. Metea Valley, Oswego, New Trier and Neuqua are all very strong teams. Illinois is a talented state for girls swimming. It is among the top three in the country. We can't just show up and swim. We need to be at our best."
Defending state 100 backstroke champion Megan Armstrong, who is headed to South Carolina, won the back stroke Saturday with a clocking of 55.84. It is Armstrong's fourth advancement to the state meet.
Armstrong was also on the winning 200 freestyle and 400 relay teams.
"There has been a lot of pressure this season to win back-to-backs in the 100 backstroke," said Armstrong. "My underwaters today were strong. I am looking forward to the state meet. Our team is getting better every meet. I think we can finish in the top three."
Other individual champs for the North Stars include Ava Atkins (diving, 438.60 points), Paige Armstrong (200 freestyle, 1:52.78), Payton Baxter (200 individual medley, 2:04.39), Julia Fifer (50 freestyle, 23.49), Jillian Wilson (100 butterfly, 56.72) and Mary Ellen Wolff (100 Freestyle, 51.43).
St. Charles East, paced by senior Mary Jania (Texas Christian), placed second with 284 points.
Jania, headed to the state meet for a fourth straight year, won the 100 breast stroke in a time of 1:03.53.
Jania swam the second leg on the first place 200 medley relay team (1:45.13) along with Sophia Mruk, Lauren Swartz and Molly Yetter. Jania also qualified in the 200 intermediate.
"It was an exciting day for me and my team," said Jania. "I want to make the most of my last appearance at the state meet."
"We have a good team atmosphere this season and we are looking forward to the state meet as a team."
Bartlett finished third with 195 points. The key cog for the Hawks was senior Sydney Kelly who won the 500 freestyle in 4:59.94. It is Kelly's fourth appearance at the state meet.
"I know the 500 freestyle race is an endurance test and you have to stay focused," said Kelly. "It is always exciting to swim at the state meet. I am hoping for a top 12 finish."
Kelly also qualified in the 200 freestyle with teammate Emily Rygula along with Kelsie Kritsch (100 breast stroke. 200 intermediate).
The Hawks' 200 freestyle relay team consisting of Rygula, Abby Hultquist, Hania Bandzou-Pedilla and Kelly along with the 400 relay team of Rygula, Kelly, Bandzou-Pedilla and Kritsch will make the trek to Wiinnetka next weekend.
West Chicago, fourth with 144 points, got state qualifying efforts from Kelly Sego (200 intermediate, 100 backstroke) and Ashley Sego (100 breast stroke).
The Wildcats' 200 medley relay team consisting of Sarah Michael, Ashley and Kelly Sego and Annabelle Kinerk qualified for the state meet.
Huntley placed fifth with a 107 points. State qualifiers include Sydney McGuine (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke) and sophomore Ella Young (100 butterfly).
"It feels really good to make it to the state finals as a sophomore," said Young. "It was one of my goals for the season."
Jacobs, sixth with 88.5 points, will send Jennifer Tokarz (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle) to state,
Glenbard North, seventh with 78.5 points, got a state qualifying effort from Amber Finke (100 backstroke).