Girls swimming: St. Charles East relays shine at state
It's been awhile since St. Charles East had a relay team advance to the final day of the IHSA state girls swim meet.
Now they've got two.
Breaking what is believed to be an 8-year drought, the Saints' 200 medley relay team and the 200 free relay squad qualified on day one of the finals at New Trier.
Sophia Mruk, Mary Jania, Lauren Swartz and Molly Yetter paced the 200 medley in the time of 1:46.00 while Swartz, Yetter, Olivia Furmanek and Hannah Murray swam their way to a 200 free berth in the time of 1:36.19.
"This is awesome, it's fantastic to be on such a great team and part of such a great accomplishment," said Mruk, a sophomore. "Really excited and I'm proud of my teammates."
"Last year (as a freshman) everything was new to me (here) and I wasn't sure what was going to happen," added Mruk. "This year it was nice to walk in knowing what to expect -- for the majority of the time -- and it was a lot of fun. I loved being back here."
St. Charles East coach Julia Oelslager said the relays were a focus coming into the meet.
"Getting a relay team in the finals was a goal of ours from day one," said Oelslager. "We knew we had an outside shot in both the medley and the free, and for the kids to have a great sectional meet and then come out here and get these relays was the icing on an incredible season."
St. Charles North swimmer Megan Armstrong, the defending state champion in the 100-yard backstroke, made a strong case for a repeat by finishing second in the prelims in the time of 55.00.
"Really excited," said Armstrong, a senior. "This is my fastest time of the season."
Armstrong will head to South Carolina University in the fall, where she'll compete on the swim team and major in biology.
"This year was a completely different season for me," added Armstrong. "There were a bunch of new girls (on the team) that I hadn't competed with before. I had another backstroker on my team this year though, Quinn Bike (a sophomore) who really helped me. Both of us raced in practice against each other, and that was something I didn't have last year."
The Rosary, Metea Valley and St. Charles North 200 medley relay teams also qualified to compete Saturday, as did the Metea Valley and North Stars' 200 free relay squads.
Metea Valley also saw swimmers advance in the 50 free (Aimee Patterson, 23.73) and the 400 free relay.
Elyssa Brault of Rosary (2:05.20) and Payton Baxter from St. Charles North (2:06.25) will move on to the 200 IM finals; McKenna Stone of Metea Valley put herself in great position for Saturday by placing first (53.27) in the 100 fly while Jessica Geriane from Rosary will swim Saturday in the 100 free finals.
The 100 backstroke qualifiers include Geriane (55.15) while in the 100 breaststroke, Brault (1:04.45), Sara Jass from Rosary and Jania (1:04.57) all move on to the final day.
"We've had such a good season," said Jania, a senior leader for St. Charles East. "Just so happy to be a part of Illinois swimming and come back to the finals one last time. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to coming out here with a great attitude and finishing the season strong."