BARRINGTON — Sarah Morosan needed to drop just over a half second off her best time in the 50-yard freestyle in order to get back to the state meet.
The junior swimmer from Buffalo Grove had competed at state last year as part of the 200-yard relay team, but with the other three girls from the team graduating, Morosan needed to qualify as an individual to return to state.
The state-qualifying time Morosan needed to beat was 24.68 seconds. She touched the wall in 24.38 seconds, good enough for fifth at the Barrington Sectional and a trip to the state meet at New Trier this weekend.
“I was so excited when I looked at the scoreboard after the 50 free,” Morosan said.
Buffalo Grove coach Tom Mroz has seen a lot of growth from Morosan since she joined the team as a freshman.
“When she came in as a freshman, she really didn’t know what she wanted to do with swimming,” Mroz said. “We pushed her and she bought in. She swam with elite girls last year, and she was very clear on her goals coming into the season. She executed everything very well.”
Morosan just missed making state in a second event by the slimmest of margins. The state-qualifying time for the 100 free was 53.61. She touched the wall in 53.62, missing state by 0.01. Despite the initial disappointment, Mroz pointed out Morosan dropped her time in that event by 1.49 seconds. The race also showed the biggest weakness she needs to work on before the state meet.
“The walls are always my downfall,” Morosan said. “I need to work on my turns and getting off the wall quicker.”
A quicker turn would have lowered her time in the 100 free, but the turn will be even more magnified during her 50 free race, a sprint that features just one turn. In swimming’s shortest race, every hundredth of a second is huge. Mroz and Morosan recognize that.
“We want to focus primarily [this week] on her approach to the wall and her break off the wall,” Mroz said. “The 50 free is a tossup in terms of what could happen.”
Morosan agreed, saying “anything can happen” in the race. Mroz does have a specific goal in mind for Morosan’s first individual state swim.
“I want to see her hold her time or do better,” he said. “If she does, that would set her up well for her senior year.”
Mroz said that while his team often sends an individual or a relay team to state, it’s not yet in the same league as powerhouses Stevenson, Fremd and Barrington, the top three teams in the Barrington Sectional, where Buffalo Grove finished ninth. The goal is eventually to compete with those schools. If the program can set and meet goals like Morosan did this season, that day might come soon.
Mroz said Morosan was very clear on one goal coming into the season.
“She said ‘I want to qualify for state,’” Mroz said.
At 24.38 seconds, consider that goal achieved.