Girls swimming and diving: Naperville North hoping depth leads to Top 10 state finish

  • Naperville North's Claire Jansen leaves the starting block as she swims backstroke in the 200-yard medley relay during the 2019 girls state swimming meet.

    Naperville North's Claire Jansen leaves the starting block as she swims backstroke in the 200-yard medley relay during the 2019 girls state swimming meet. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Neuqua Valley and Callie Tuma are hoping for the program's third-straight state title this weekend.

    Neuqua Valley and Callie Tuma are hoping for the program's third-straight state title this weekend. Daily Herald File Photo

 
By Bobby Narang
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/10/2021 5:13 PM

After winning the DuPage Valley Conference championship for the first time in 10 years earlier this season, the Naperville North girls swimming team has its sights on a bigger prize this weekend.

The Huskies are among a group of DuPage County teams and competitors headed to the state swimming meet this weekend, the first state meet in two years. The two-day state meet will be held starting Friday at FMC Natatorium in Westmont for the first time.

 

"We won the DuPage Valley Conference this season, so that was a nice change," Naperville North coach Connor Binnig said. "We want to be at least Top 10 at state. It's been probably 15 to 20 years since we've done that. We need all three relays to make finals. We have good balance group of girls. We're not a superstar team, but a deep team.

"We're all excited. A lot of girls talked after DVC that they would opt to taper for state instead of taper for sectionals. It was a team-focused decision. We had a good sectionals, but we think we will be faster this weekend."

Senior Claire Jansen has yet to finalize her college decision, but she's looking at a few schools, according to Binnig. Jansen is competing in three relays along with 100-yard backstroke. Jansen placed first with a time of 56.46 seconds at the Neuqua Valley Sectional.

Neuqua Valley is looking to win its third straight state title after finishing with 183 points in the 2019 meet, beating out New Trier in each of the last two meets. The Wildcats placed second at sectionals, finishing just behind champion Oswego East. Senior Callie Tuma, a Ball State recruit, heads into the state meet on a roll after winning the 500-yard freestyle at sectionals.

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Hinsdale Central is another team to watch following a 291-point first-place showing at the Downers Grove South sectional. The Red Devils won all three relays -- 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free -- at sectionals. Junior Kit Schneider, who won the 50-yard freestyle at sectionals, headlines the Red Devils' quest for a state trophy.

"We've been pretty focused all year on being a top-five team, if possible, at state," Hinsdale Central coach Robert Barber said. "We've been driven throughout the year to find the right pieces to the puzzle. We're hoping all three of our relays have a chance to score, and both of our divers. Kit is looking for a big meet. She's also in all three of our relays. We just have to open with the mindset to go faster than last weekend. State is a meet where if you have fun, you will swim faster."

West Chicago/Batavia co-op, which earned a second-place finish at the St. Charles North sectional, is sending three individuals and one relay to state. Sophomore Amelia Murphy, in her first season swimming high school for West Chicago, placed first in the 200 freestyle at sectionals.

"We feel we're in a pretty good position going into Friday," West Chicago coach Nick Parry said. "I'm super excited to see how Amelia performs. Ashley Sego is a grizzled veteran and I'm expecting big things from her this weekend. It's all about getting good performances and scoring points for the team."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Downers Grove North, which placed fourth at sectionals, is hoping for a memorable showing from senior Olivia Asay. The Iowa recruit captured the sectional title in the 100 butterfly and placed second in the 200 medley, while sophomore Gianna Cappello notched second in the 200 free (1:54.05) and third in the 500 free.

"Olivia is a fantastic leader and role model," Downers Grove North coach Jennifer Heyer-Olsen said. "She's been working really hard, and she's ready for Friday. She's super excited to finally get back to the state meet. Gianna is going to experience state for the first time, but she's definitely prepared to swim fast on Friday. It should a be interesting weekend. Hopefully, it's packed and we can bring some electricity on Friday."

Downers Grove South coach Paul Krick has two competitors in the state meet. Senior Audrey Mahoney is coming off a second-place finish in the 50 free and the 100 free at sectionals. Junior Andrea Paradis placed second at sectionals in the 100 breaststroke.

"Audrey is looking to get in all-state in both events," Krick said. "She's been training for three years for this. This is her goal. She's been doing well and her splits at sectionals were fast. Andrea is a very hard worker and she's really stepped up her training."

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