Evanston senior co-captains Jake Girard, Ryan Knohl and Christian Stankovic combined with junior Adrian Lafont-Mueller to end their high school swimming careers on a high note Saturday at the Illinois High School Association state finals at New Trier High School.
The Wildkit foursome climbed three spots, from 11th place to 8th place, in the consolation heat of the 400-yard freestyle relay in their final race with a time of 3 minutes, 9.72 seconds.
That 8th place finish accounted for most of Evanston’s 11 team points, which tied Stevenson for 27th place overall. Stankovic earned a 12th place finish in the 200 individual medley with a 1:57.82 clocking.
Hinsdale Central claimed its first team title since 1989 with 126 points, followed by Peoria Notre Dame with 114 and Glenbrook South and Naperville Central with 113 apiece.
Evanston ranked only 11th coming out of Friday’s preliminary competition, when the Kits posted a time of 3:09.51. Saturday’s splits included a 47.11 for Lafont-Mueller, a 47.50 for Girard, a 47.45 for Knohl and a 47.66 for anchorman Stankovic.
It was Girard, on the second leg, who powered the Wildkits into the lead in the heat before they finally finished behind Waubonsie Valley (3:09.42) in a battle for 7th place.
“Times are irrelevant today. It’s all about racing, and that was a lot better,” said Evanston head coach Kevin Auger. “I think that’s where that group should be, place-wise. We thought coming in we could be near the end of the championship heat, or near the top of the consolation finals.
“Jake was the one who got us the lead today. We’re a very balanced team and that means we can take advantage where others might be weak on one leg. We competed much better today. They got up and they raced, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s nice to see them go out on a high note like that.”
Representing ETHS in the Athletes With Disabilities competition, freshman Aaron Holzmueller recorded personal bests in all three of his races. Holzmueller lowered his best time by 5 seconds in the 50 freestyle, in 58.35, and was also clocked in 2:08.02 in the 100 freestyle and 2:41.42 in the 100 breaststroke.