Evanston’s swimmers were unable to take the next step Friday at the Illinois High School Association state preliminaries held at New Trier High School.
Wait until next year.
Coach Kevin Auger’s squad fell short of advancing despite qualifying all three relays and seven individuals out of the sectional last week. Swimmers needed to finish among the top 12 Friday to advance to Saturday’s finals in either the championship (first through sixth) or consolation (seventh through 12th) heats.
Wildkit swims were slower across the board, although some by small margins, compared to the sectional meet. But Auger didn’t have any trouble seeing the glass as half full, not half empty, especially considering that only one senior — Rosselyn Lopez — was among Evanston’s 10 swimmers and divers on deck Friday.
Closest ETHS came to advancing was in the 200-yard medley relay, where the foursome of Honore Collins, Ana Woods, Iana Wolff and Lopez was clocked in 1 minute, 47.43 seconds for 14th place among relay hopefuls. Warren claimed the 12th and last qualifying spot with a time of 1:46.87.
“That was a shock when the medley relay didn’t make it,” Auger admitted after the Kits failed to chalk up any state meet points for the second straight year. “But I’m not disappointed at all with the way they all swam today. You always hope that it’ll go your way but you know you can always end up on the other (non-qualifying) side by a couple of hundredths or a couple of seconds.
“I really thought they performed better than I anticipated. We basically swam the same as we swam last week when we set three sophomore records. The fact that medley got so close really surpassed my very lofty expectations.”
The coach noted that sophomores Collins, Wolff and Woods lowered school records held by former ETHS great Laura Wadden and ex-state champions Julia Quinn and Jane Munro at various points during the season. Woods, given the opportunity to earn a junior national cut when Auger switched her to the leadoff leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay, achieved that goal Friday with a time of 24.3 that bettered her own sophomore school mark in the 50 freestyle.
“We broke sophomore records right and left this year. At the state meet you have to accept the fact that you can only control what you do in your own lane, and (qualifying in) the 7-12 range was way faster than it has been most years,” said the ETHS coach.
“Next year we have to make the jump those girls (Wadden, Quinn, Munro) made when they swam for us. Every jump is that much more difficult. It gets exponentially harder. But I believe we have the talent for the next two years here to be really special.”
Collins posted the 20th fastest time in the 200-yard individual medley (2:10.32) and came back with a time of 58.68 in the 100 backstroke, good for 28th place.
Woolf never got untracked in her bid in the 100 butterfly, settling for the 17th quickest time in 57.79, and Woods settled for 21st fastest qualifying time in the 100 backstroke in 1:05.95.
Also competing for the Wildkits in individual events were Lopez, 46th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.09; sophomore Paige Haden, 29th in the backstroke in 58.69; and junior diver Kate Budde, who didn’t make the cut with a score of 157.25.
In the freestyle relays, the Evanston 200 team of Woods, Lopez, Wolff and junior Millie Rosen ranked 18th with a time of 1:38.32, just a little over a second away from a top 12 berth. In the 400, the team of Wolff, Collins, Haden and Woods staggered to a time of 3:41.94.