Melissa Rose has a simple goal heading into her senior season on the Cary-Grove girls swimming team – don’t get kicked in the head.
Rose, the only returning state qualifier from the area, qualified for state last year by winning the Barrington Sectional in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:05.44, but swam a 1:06.15 in the state preliminaries. Her 26th place finish was well out of the top 12 needed to qualify for the Saturday finals to secure a place finish.
While very disappointed at her time and place, Rose said there were some extenuating circumstances at state, something she will be mindful of this season.
“In warmups, I got kicked in the face,” Rose said. “That’s a big thing to avoid this year.”
Rose qualified for state in each of her first three seasons but has never made it to finals on Saturday. She said the time has gone by fast and wants to make the most out of her last season at C-G.
“Last one, fast one,” Rose said.
Trojans coach Scott Lattyak said Rose expects a lot out of herself.
“She always sets the standard high for herself,” Lattyak said.
Rose said she trained hard during the summer with her Mundelein club team and feels a lot stronger both mentally and physically. She feels she has the ability and times to make it to the second day of state, it’s just a matter of doing it at the right time.
“I know my times are fast enough,” Rose said. “I just have to have that really good race.”
Rose will be pushed this year by Crystal Lake Central co-op's Valerie Tarazi, a freshman at Prairie Ridge. Tarazi has state qualifying times in every individual event except the 500 freestyle.
“Just with Melissa knowing that (Tarazi’s) there will make her work harder,” Lattyak said.
Tigers coach Stephanie Wozny is hoping that Tarazi also has that impact on her own teammates.
“I’m excited for the girls. It’s good to have a teammate that does well,” Wozny said. “It helps to have someone that’s driven, to practice with every day.”
While Tarazi is young, Wozny said that she is very mature both in and out of the water. But it’s in the water where she really shines.
“[Tarazi is] a pretty serious young lady. She has a really good work ethic,” Wozny said. “It will be fun to watch her.”
Tarazi’s personal best in the 100 breaststroke is 1:04.19, which would have placed sixth at last year’s state finals. She qualified for junior nationals this summer in that event but thinks she is capable of getting faster.
“I didn’t really train breaststroke at all during short course (club) season,” Tarazi said. “I didn’t expect to break out in that stroke.”
Tarazi will have to adjust to swimming multiple events in a week and being a part of a more team focused sport than club swimming. Wozny expects Tarazi to embrace the team aspect but it will take some time to adjust.
“The high school environment is just completely different,” Wozny said. “When you go to a meet, you’re swimming what’s good for the team.”
Oldest senior: McHenry coach Mike Shanahan considers himself just another departing senior.
After 47 years coaching the Warriors, 35 as the girls coach, Shanahan is calling it quits.
“I was going to try and make it to 50 (years),” Shanahan said. “I’m trying to move to Crystal Lake and I don’t want to be a commuter.”