Evanston’s 200-yard medley relay team shaved seven hundredths of a second off the school record Friday night in that event.
But after that, close didn’t really count for the Wildkit girls swimmers at the Illinois High School Association state preliminaries held at the Burton Aquatic Center at ETHS.
Under a qualifying format in which the top 12 times earn the right to swim again in Saturday’s championship or consolation finals, the Kits earned the 13th fastest qualifying time in two races and the 14th fastest in another.
The good news is that will leave the all-junior foursome of Paige Haden, Ana Woods, Iana Wolff and Honore Collins free to focus their efforts on just one race in pursuit of the medley relay state crown. The quartet was clocked in 1 minute, 45.01 seconds to wipe out the previous record of 1:45.08 established in 2007 by the team of Jane Munro, Kristina Walsh, Grace Borchers and Anne Frigo.
That team captured the state championship and that’s the next goal for the current group. Friday’s effort was the third fastest qualifying time overall as the Wildkits trailed only Downers Grove North (1:43.71) and Neuqua Valley (1:44.50) after six heats on Friday.
Wildkit head coach Kevin Auger doesn’t know if his team can catch the leaders, but set a time goal for the foursome and will let the chips fall where they may as far as a place is concerned. Evanston also won the IHSA medley state crown in 2001.
“Our biggest goal right now is just to get under 1:45,” Auger said. “Those four girls are fierce competitors and I think they’ll come in ready to go on Saturday.”
Evanston’s splits included a 27.01 for Haden in the backstroke, a 29.14 for Woods in the breastroke, a sizzling 24.92 for Wolff in the butterfly, and a 23.82 for Collins anchoring on the freestyle leg.
“That was definitely an awesome time they swam today. Because of the clock issues (the scoreboard malfunctioned and didn’t post the times) all we know is those were pretty much their best times, even though all we have is hand times. That was a case of four girls getting up and doing lifetime bests together, or close to it.
“I’m happy with the swims we had today. It would have been nice to have a little luck to go with it. We need an 8-lane pool here (so more than 12 swimmers can advance in a given event), because every other major competition in the state is held in an 8-lane pool instead of a 6-lane pool. For the girls sake I hope it will go the other way for us next time it’s that close.”
Collins came back with the 13th quickest time in the 200 individual medley, in 2:06.49, and the 200 freestyle relay team of Woods, Collins, Maddy Managlia and Wolff turned in a season best time of 1:37.07 that also ranked 13th.
In the 100 breaststroke, Woods mustered only the 14th fastest qualifying time (1:05.20) a week after setting the school record of 1:04.59 that was third on the list of sectional bests.
Collins and Haden turned in the 18th and 19th fastest times, respectively, of 57.61 and 57.96 in the 100 breaststroke, and divers Kate Budde and Andrea Gouvea were eliminated after the first round with scores of 170.45 and 141.45.
The unit of Wolff, Haden, Millie Rosen and Woods was clocked in 3:36.81, well off the qualifying pace in the 400 freestyle relay.