Girls swimming: Stevenson shines at Lake County invite
Stevenson girls swimming coach Ayrton Kasemets said that Patriots sophomore diver Lada Volkov is always calm, cool and collected during her diving competitions.
"I hope that's true," said Volkov with a laugh. "That's what I'm aiming for."
Saturday at the Lake County Invite, the sophomore showed how far her tranquil approach can take her.
She won the diving event at the meet held in Lake Forest with a score of 432.80, and that stellar mark helped Stevenson win the invite title.
The Patriots' mark of 376 bested Libertyville, second at 203. Barrington finished fifth and Vernon Hills seventh.
"Nothing seems to faze her," said Kasemets. "She sets pretty high expectations for herself and had a really good meet today."
"I saw her last dive and she nailed it. I think she really performs the best when it matters most."
Volkov said that she took up diving in the fifth grade, and it only took "a few weeks" for her to realize how much she loved the sport.
She added that she came into Saturday's invitational with no specific outlook.
"I didn't expect much coming in, actually," said Vokov, "because it was the first invitational of the season. I'm glad that it went the way it did."
Barrington swimmer Jenna Kerr won the 500 free in the time of 5:01.96.
The senior will be heading one state west in the fall. She'll be enrolling at the University of Iowa and competing for the Hawkeyes' Division 1 swim squad.
For now, though, she's focused on enjoying her senior year, and of course endeavoring to lead her Fillies team to its best possible season.
"It's kind of sad that it's my last year," Kerr said, "but I'm really excited to go to college and swim D1."
"I had a really good connection with the coaches (at Iowa)," she added of her University choice, "and I loved their facilities. It's just a great college town, and my brother goes there, I have family there."
Kerr also swam the 200 free, finishing second, and Barrington coach Alex Mikolajewski mentioned that the runner-up placement might have been even more impressive than her 500 win.
"The girl (Annika Parkhe of Deerfield) who won currently has a much faster time than Jenna," said the coach. "But in the first 100 she kept pace and just swam until she couldn't go on. She just hung on, hung on, hung on."
"Jenna is very talented," said Mikolajewski. "She offers an extreme level of versatility, she can do what she did today in the 200, and can also do the 100 and 500 (free). Even in dual meet scenarios, if you need her, for example, to win a 100 fly, she can win a 100 fly. Just very, very versatile overall with killer racing instincts."
Other Stevenson champions were Shay Donovan (2:08.59) in the 200 individual medley; Hana Wienckowski (52.63) in the 100 free; Jennifer Chen, who took the 100 back with a time of 57.72; and Nelli Sandor (1:07.07) in the 100 breaststroke.
Libertyville's Logan Howard was fastest in the 50 free with a mark of 24.13.
The Patriots also were victorious in the 200 free relay (Wienckowski, Abby Collins, Stephanie Kirova and Linnea Florin) and the 400 free relay (Wienckowski, Florin, Chen, and Collins).
Kasemets added that the stellar performance of his team was just another day at the office.
"The girls came out to this meet and took care of business," he said. "No different than practice. They push each other and rally around each other."
Izzy Ramos had the best showing for Vernon Hills, third in the 200 IM at 2:09.84.
"It was a little rocky today," said Cougars coach AJ Block. "Sometimes though, it's not the results, it's kids having their best time, or events well swum.
"As far as Izzy goes, she's our captain and just a fantastic kid. You couldn't ask for a better person to coach, and she's an outstanding leader."