Lily Consiglio’s high school resume includes State-qualifying performances in each of her first three years competing for Evanston, either as an individual or member of a freestyle relay team.
Now the Wildkits’ swim standout is aiming to make an even bigger splash as a senior.
Consiglio has blossomed in her tenure with the Kits and will assume a bigger role as Evanston opens its 2021 swimming and diving dual meet season Friday at Loyola Academy. She’ll take on a team leadership mantle following the graduation of one of the best classes in the program’s history last spring.
The Class of 2021 didn’t have the opportunity to make an impact at the Illinois High School Association State finals, as that season-ending climax was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. They also had to compete virtually – not in the same pool with their foes – and only the sectional meet was a head-to-head showdown for swimmers last fall.
Now swimmers will tackle a full schedule with a State series as the goal once again.
Consiglio scored two runnerup sectional finishes last year, in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly, and also placed 4th in the backstroke. She was also part of a unit that for the second year in a row established the school record in the 400 freestyle race.
Consiglio and distance ace Jenna Wild are the only returning starters for veteran head coach Kevin Auger, who is eager to see which girls will rise to the occasion with so many positions up for grabs to start the 2021 campaign.
“This is an opportunity for a lot of kids,” said Auger. “We’ve had several spots that just weren’t available [to crack the starting lineup] for the last few years. Now, there’s an opportunity for them to jump in.
“We anticipated having to rebuild a little this year, that’s just a part of the process. It was difficult last year because there wasn’t more of a last hurrah for those seniors because of the coronavirus. We won’t ever know how good they could have been, and that was difficult to watch because of the way they had grown and improved from year to year.
“It was a weird year, especially not having the State finals. It’s incredible whenever you get a chance to compete in that meet, and for a lot of kids, that was their one and only chance.”
Consiglio and Wild (200, 500 freestyle) will lead the way for the current group, both in and out of the pool. They’ll share the team co-captain responsibilities along with senior classmates Mira Littmann (200, 500 freestyle), Annika Macy (butterfly, breaststroke) and Emma Nissan, who won’t be competing after summer surgery for a torn labrum.
Auger is confident that Consiglio will assume a leadership role even though sometimes athletes with elite talent aren’t quite as comfortable with those off-the-field duties.
“I think this is a good group of captains this year,” said the ETHS coach. “Even as a freshman, those kids looked to Lily – and looked up to her. I think she’s prepared for a leadership role. She’s the one to look to, to show everyone how things are done. She’s the only one who has been to State. She’s been a mainstay on our relays ever since she was a freshman, and now her role has changed to one of seasoned veteran.”
Auger indicated that Consiglio might try the 200 freestyle event this year. “The advantage for her in that race is that she’s so tough, and she’s willing to put the work in,” he said. “I really think the sweet spot for her is the 100 freestyle, but the 50 free and the fly are probably where she’ll end up.
“I think Lily had what I call a complacent year last year. Not having a State meet affected a lot of girls as far as their motivation. I thought what she did in training was better than the end-of-season performance we got out of her, but that happens sometimes. She was motivated to train hard – and she did – but sometimes what you see isn’t what you get.
“She still almost broke our 50 free record [with a season best of 23.91 compared to the record of 23.78] and she’s like one tenth of a second off in the fly. She’s going to go after both of those records this time around.”
Macy tops the list of seniors most likely to succeed along with Consiglio. She’ll be a key member of the 200-yard medley relay team and her 50-yard splits in the breaststroke were right with graduated star Samantha Rhodes last year, and she’s also solid in the longer races, the 100 breaststroke and butterfly.
Other seniors to watch include versatile Kate Seward, who has the range to thrive in anything from the 50 to the 500 freestyle; Morrigan Bushroe-Stumpf (backstroke, sprint freestyle), Rose Lawless (backstroke), Sophie Lammers (individual medley, breaststroke), Molly DaSilva (breaststroke) and water polo star Hilda Arellano (distance freestyle).
Karolien Van Mieghem, who won the conference title in the freshman 100 freestyle, heads the junior class. Sprinter Ainslie Stoolmaker, Amanda Nelson (backstroke, medley relay), Ellie Bollinger (breaststroke, IM) and Molly Lemmon (distance freestyle) also should make an impact.
Top sophomores are Elise Pollack (butterfly, backstroke), Abigail Romisher (distance freestyle, IM), Monroe Stroth (sprints, butterfly) and Riley Romisher (breaststroke). Opportunities will also be knocking for freshmen like Naina Malhotra (freestyle), Frances Hammer (breaststroke, sprints), Malia Schoonyoung (freestyle) and Oona O’Brien (breaststroke, fly, sprints) among others.
Evanston’s biggest void in the lineup is in diving, where Natalia Fleming decided to concentrate instead on cheerleading after placing 14th at last year’s sectional competition.