Four area girls swimmers qualified for the IHSA state finals in sectional meets Saturday.
Crystal Lake Central’s Marisa Barton won the 50-yard freestyle in 23.24 seconds, to qualify at the St. Charles North Sectional and placed fourth in the 100 freestyle (53.67) but qualified by time. Also qualifying at St. Charles in the 50 were the Tigers’ Nikayla Dahl (23.95) and Huntley’s Chanel Curtis (24.36).
At Stevenson, Cary-Grove’s Melissa Rose qualified in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.05).
Barton, who placed third last year at state in the 50 freestyle, seems poised again to be one of the top swimmers in the state. Her time was nearly three-quarters of a second faster than her finish in last year’s final. She also broke the pool record at St. Charles North.
“At first, I didn’t even know about the pool record,” Barton said. “When I got my ribbon and they announced the pool record, I was surprised.”
The 23.24 time was also a personal best for Barton.
“I definitely wanted to get a new [personal record] because last year at sectionals, I got a personal best so I wanted to repeat that,” Barton said.
Tigers’ coach Lindsay Mernitz said when the 50 finished, she looked at the scoreboard and couldn’t believe Barton’s time.
“I looked at the board and looked at the board and looked at the board,” Mernitz said. “It was awesome.”
Mernitz said Barton was very nervous before the race and just wanted to get in under the 24.75 qualifying standard.
Curtis becomes the first Huntley swimmer to qualify for state since the program began two years ago. Red Raiders’ coach George Keehan said this is the first year that Curtis has embraced swimming full time.
“She just keeps getting faster,” Keehan said. “She didn’t break 26 [seconds] all year and then bang there she is.”
Rose, a sophomore, qualified in the breaststroke for the second time. After making it to state last year, she felt confident this year in not tapering for sectionals, something she is looking forward to next week. Tapering is when swimmers reduce workouts before a big race to improve their times.
“My goal was to make state and that was it,” Rose said. “1:07 not tapered is really great. I’m excited to taper.”
After the start, Rose was a good yard behind the leaders but made up the difference by the 50-yard turn. C-G coach Scott Lattyak said her 30.94 split was well under where she needed to be to qualify.
“We’ve been working on her starts,” Lattyak said. “After the first 50, I was pretty confident.”
And not being tapered yet gives Lattyak confidence that Rose could swim even faster at state.
“[Rose] has still got some more in her,” Lattyak said.
Having the benefit of swimming at state last year will ease Rose’s nerves and allow her to enjoy the experience this year.
“I know what to expect now,” Rose said. “It will be more fun.”
At the Lake Forest Sectional there were no state qualifiers from the area. McHenry’s Michaela Matthys was the closest and missed the 100 butterfly (59.75) cut by about three-quarters of a second. She went out in 27.49 in the first 50, but could not hold that pace .
Matthys also was just over a second from making state in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.29).