In a perfect swim world, the addition of newcomers Hanna Forbat, Mary Clare D’Arrigo and Lucy Hogan might have been enough to push the Evanston girls swimming and diving program to the top of the heap in the point standings at the Illinois High School Association state finals this fall.
But with school individual medley record holder Honore Collins out for the season following shoulder surgery, the Wildkits may have to lower their sights just a bit when it comes to postseason success.
Head coach Kevin Auger — who guided the program to 4th place State finishes in 2001 and 2009 — hopes the addition of those three newcomers to a veteran cast will still enable ETHS, which placed 14th last year, to climb in the postseason standings.
Collins’ injury is devastating for a performer who was already on the brink of greatness in the pool. Also the leading scorer for the girls water polo team, Collins suffered a torn labrum halfway through the spring season and required surgery to repair the damage.
She set the school record in the 200 IM of 2 minutes, 6.39 seconds at last year’s sectional and teamed up with returning standouts Paige Haden, Ana Woods and Iana Wolff for an ETHS record in the 200 medley relay in the state prelims en route to an overall 3rd place finish in that event in the finals.
Auger and his squad aren’t conceding anything even with Collins sidelined. Junior transfers Forbat and D’Arrigo, along with incoming freshman diver Hogan, could help offset that loss in a big way if they can reach their potential this year.
“We can’t replace Honore. She was our best performer overall last year — although it was close with the other three — and with her in there I think we could win the 200 medley and short (200) freestyle relay this year,” the coach said.
“The two new girls aren’t as good as Honore yet, but they can help fill the void in some of those events. Hanna is a well-rounded swimmer, just like Honore, although she’s better at the longer races. And Mary Clare is starting at a pretty good place (24.5 split in the 200 relay), too.”
Forbat moved to Evanston from Oklahoma this summer and scored high finishes in the long course (meters) races at the club state championships, including a 2nd in the 400 IM and a 4th in the 200 IM. Her family made the move in part to help the diminuitive junior deal with a major health issue for any athlete, an adrenaline deficiency.
A change in her diet and other treatment has helped Forbat deal with the problem. “At first she wasn’t able to do some of the training, but she made some big drops this summer and she’s been able to get back to where she was the year before with this new regimen,” Auger pointed out. “Her best IM time (2:07) is only about a second behind Honore, and right now she has the 2nd best time for us in the butterfly, too. She’s also a 1:07 breaststroker. I’m really impressed with her performances so far.”
D’Arrigo, already an Evanston resident, switched programs after two years at St. Ignatius and could supply a missing piece in the sprint puzzle. And Logan is a rare commodity for the girls program — a freshman who already has experience in her specialty coming into ETHS. She could challenge two seniors, Andrea Gouvea and Maddie Doppelt, for the No. 1 slot even though Gouvea is a returning state qualifier.
Even without the newcomers, Evanston’s lineup will offer quantity and quality. Woods is currently the school record holder in the 100 breaststroke and just missed advancing to the final day of the state meet last year with the 14th fastest time in the prelims. Wolff was eliminated in the butterfly prelims and is hungry for another shot this time around. And Haden is a threat to score major state points in the backstroke, too.
“Individually, I think all of them can score, and the last time we finished 4th we scored in all three relays,” Auger noted. “How well we do at State will depend on those relays. We just want to get as many girls as possible into that top 12. Our goal has to be to score more State points this year.
“What I like about this group of girls, especially the seniors, is the way they’ve kept improving. They’ve leap-frogged some of the people who used to beat them, and that’s very satisfying.”
Other seniors to watch are Olivia Everhart (breaststroke), Maddie Managlie (fly/sprint freestyle), Syd Bernadel (fly) co-captains Julia Bartol (backstroke) and Rebecca Schumm (backstroke/distance freestyle). “This senior class is probably one of the best we’ve ever had as far as our depth goes,” Auger said.
In the junior class, help will come from Nancy Hollingsworth (breaststroke/IM), who is coming off a knee injury that sidelined her last fall. The Kits also expect big contributions from classmates Riley Hughes (fly, sprint freestyle), Kate Grossman (breaststroke), Elena Kovachevich (backstroke) and Allie Deyhle (fly).
Sophomore Kate Donati has emerged as the top distance freestyler in the program and heads a talented class that also features Angie Escobar (breaststroke/fly), Olivia Knohl (diving), Meredith Long (freestyle) and Clio Hancock (fly/IM/freestyle). Hancock could be a sleeper to earn one of the squad’s top IM slots. “She had a really nice summer and now she’s training with the big dogs for us,” Auger said. “She made her biggest jump in the IM and her 200 free is also very good.”
Also seeking to crack the varsity lineup are freshmen Cassie Tingley, Hannah Stein, Halley Seed and Grace Prendergast.