WINNETKA — It’s been clear all season that Glenbrook South junior Katie Wells is one of the state’s fastest swimmers in the 50-yard freestyle, and she lived up to her reputation at the state preliminaries Friday.
Wells finished fifth (23.64 seconds) in the event, and she swam a 22.77 anchor leg in the 200 free relay to help the Titans finish fourth (1:36.45). Wells, as well as her teammates on the 200 free relay, advanced to the championship heats of the state finals Saturday by finishing in the top six.
Wells delivered a surprise in the 100 breaststroke, however.
The junior recorded the 20th-fastest time at sectionals – a 1:05.97 – and she needed a big drop in time to advance to the state finals.
Wells was placed in the first lane of the sixth of seven heats. She wasn’t able to beat New Trier freshman Ingrid Wall (1:02.94) or New Trier senior Kara Lucenti (1:02.88) in her heat, but she touched the wall in 1:04.01. Wells put herself on the precipice of qualifying for the championship heat with that time, and only one person in the final heat swam faster than her. Wells began jumping up and down when New Trier’s scoreboard confirmed she had finished sixth and earned a spot in Saturday’s championship heat.
Finishing in the top six “was definitely a goal of mine,” Wells said with a big smile on her face. “I didn’t know if I could do it, though, because there were so many insanely fast breaststrokers in Illinois. But I guess I did it – barely.”
Glenbrook North’s Erin Oliphant wasn’t as happy as Wells at the end of the meet Friday. The sophomore finished 11th in the 200 individual medley (2:07.01), and she took ninth in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.81).
“I feel OK,” Oliphant said. “I’m really happy with my IM because at the beginning of the season, I wasn’t expecting much from it. To come here today and make finals – even thought it’s only consoles – I’m really excited about it. Breaststroke, I would have liked to do better. But I’m going to try racing it differently tomorrow and see how it goes.”
Oliphant said she is going to slow down her tempo during the 100 breaststroke Saturday, which she said she hopes caters to her strength of being more of a distance breaststroke swimmer.
New Trier had 16 state entrants, and a whopping 10 of them – including all three relays – finished in the top six at the preliminaries. The three-time defending champions also had two swimmers – sophomore Julia Green (10th, 1:52.40) in the 200 free and senior Amelia Girgenti (10th, 52.11) in the 100 free – advance to the consolation finals.
Loyola had six of its state entrants qualify for the championship finals, including juniors Grace Tierney and Maria Jardeleza in both of their individual events.
Tierney took fourth in the 200 free (1:51.00) and third in the 500 free (4:55.13), while Jardeleza was second in the 100 backstroke (55.93) and fifth in the 100 butterfly (55.99).
The Ramblers’ 200 medley relay – it took fifth in 1:44.45 – advanced to the state finals. Their 200 free relay, which took sixth in 1:36.62, also advanced.
Niles North’s Azra Avdic dropped .27 seconds off of her seeded time Friday afternoon to finish 10th in the 100 fly. The sophomore, who was the lone Vikings swimmer at the state meet, finished the race in 56.75. She then swam the grueling 500 free two events later, and took 15th with a time of 5:02.38.
EVANSTON, NILES WEST, MAINE SOUTH
Evanston, Niles West and Maine South weren’t able to advance anyone to the state finals Saturday, but each school came close.
Niles West junior Emma Helgeson finished 15th in the 100 free (52.66), missing the top 12 by .15 seconds. Maine South senior Jenna Zitkus finished 14th in the 100 breaststroke (57.54), which was just .08 seconds slower than the swimmer who finished in 12th.
The closest the Wildkits came to qualifying for the state finals was a 14th-place finish in the 200 medley relay. That relay – which included senior Rosselyn Lopez and sophomores Honore Collins, Ana Woods and Iana Wolff – finished in 1:47.73.