Adrian Lafont-Mueller’s career-best leg in the 400-yard freestyle relay salvaged an otherwise disappointing day for Evanston’s swimmers and divers at the Illinois High School Association state preliminary competition held Friday at New Trier High School.
Lafont-Mueller kept that 400 unit alive for another day with a leadoff split of 47.07 seconds. Lafont-Mueller, Jake Girard (47.87), Ryan Knohl (47.50) and Christian Stankovic (47.07) combined for a time of 3:09.51, the 11th fastest qualifying time, and earned a spot in Saturday’s consolation finals.
Also advancing to the consolation finals for ETHS was Stankovic, who ranked 11th in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:55.12. The six fastest times in each event advance to the championship finals, with the next six fastest making up the consolation heats.
The Wildkits suffered more than their share of near-misses that placed just outside the top 12 necessary to advance to Saturday.
Knohl recorded the 14th fastest time (1:42.91, a lifetime best) in the 200 freestyle and missed qualifying by 0.29 seconds. In the 500 freestyle, his time of 4:39.74, a drop of more than 3 seconds from his sectional effort but only good for 13th, 0.93 seconds behind the last qualifier, Ryan Netzel of Plainfield Central.
Evanston’s 200 freestyle relay team of Adrian and Axel Lafont-Mueller, Girard and Stankovic also fell into the near-miss category after ranking fifth coming out of sectional competition. Friday, they were clocked in 1:26.80, 0.37 seconds off the last qualifying spot.
“A lot of their times were slower today, but I can’t dampen their enthusiasm at this point,” said Evanston coach Kevin Auger. “This is a lot tougher environment than the sectional (held at Glenbrook South). Remember that they had to swim fast just to make it here.
“At the end of the meet I said to the guys with a 14th, 13th and 13th it tells you two things — that every tenth of a second and every inch of effort counts, and that the gods owe us one.”
Evanston divers Harel Anolick and Turner Dobbs fell short with respective prelim scores of 180.40 points and 164.85 for 5 dives. The Kits also came up short in the 200 medley relay, where Zach Grossman-Torres, Girard, Knohl and Axel Lafont-Mueller teamed up for the 21st fastest time of 1:35.07.
Also competing for ETHS as individuals were Grossman-Torres, 55.12 in the 100 backstroke; Adrian Lafont-Mueller, 47.61 in the 100 freestyle and 22.10 in the 50 freestyle; Stankovic, 48.28 in the 100 freestyle; Axel Lafont-Mueller, 22.05 in the 50 freestyle; Girard, 1:57.66 in the 200 IM; and Quinn Tucker, 1:45.65 in the 200 freestyle.