Under the direction of coach Renee Miller, the Fenwick High School girls swimming and diving program developed into a dominant force in Illinois, turning out with multiple state champions.
Last year was a rarity for the Friars as they saw Oak Park and River Forest High School win the IHSA sectional meet in their home pool. But the IHSA Leyden Township sectional Nov. 5 saw Fenwick end in a familiar spot — as champions.
The Friars’ 303 points were 31 better than the runner-up Huskies (272). It’s the 19th sectional title in program history.
“It feels great,” said Fenwick coach Steve Thompson. “[The seniors] were here two years ago during COVID-19 when we won, but really weren’t able to celebrate it. They got to enjoy it in the pool this time.”
Fenwick won all three relays. Sophomores Evelyn Mulvihill and Anna Doherty along with seniors Baileigh Racky and Kailyn McHugh took the 200-yard medley relay in a time of 1:45.90. The 200 freestyle relay of senior Annie McCarthy, McHugh, Mulvihill and senior Cailey Peele was victorious in 1:37.82. And the 400 freestyle relay of Doherty, McHugh, Peele and Racky had a winning time of 3:33.37.
“We focused on the relays specifically,” Thompson said.
The Friars were also victorious in a pair of individual events. Racky took the 100 butterfly in 56.56 seconds, while Doherty won the 500 freestyle in a time of 5:09.06.
Racky also qualified for state in the 100 backstroke as her second-place time of 58.29 seconds met the qualifying standard.
“Last year, Baileigh sacrificed one of her events so that we could get three relays (to state),” Thompson said. “The depth we’ve built on this year’s team allowed us to get all three relays and Baileigh’s two events.”
In addition, Doherty qualified for a second state event, taking second in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:08.67, as did McHugh, who was second in the 100 freestyle (52.76).
Fenwick also had two divers advance downstate. Senior Anastasia Lerma was third with a score of 384.70 points, while sophomore Viktoria Castillo took fourth with 366.80 points.
Other medalists for the Friars were Mulvihill (2nd, 24.89) and McCarthy (3rd, 24.91) in the 50 freestyle; junior Alexandra Lefko (3rd, 1:59.21) and freshman Claire Wood (6th, 2:01.20) in the 200 freestyle; freshman Regan McDonald (6th, 2:21.47) in the 200 IM; senior Hannah Schubkegel (5th, 1:02.05) in the 100 butterfly; Peele (3rd, 54.46) in the 100 freestyle; Mulvihill (4th, 59.01) in the 100 backstroke; and McCarthy (4th, 1:11.33) in the 100 breaststroke.
Fenwick now turns its attention to the IHSA state championships, which take place Nov. 11-12 at FMC Natatorium in Westmont.
“We want to get some all-staters and all-Americans,” Thompson said.
Sophomore Sadie Murphy continued her strong season for the Huskies, winning the 200 IM (2:05.81) and the 100 backstroke (56.88), which she considers her stronger of the two.
Murphy will be joined downstate by senior Rebecca Dee, who won the 50 freestyle in a time of 24.86, and sophomore Kate Walby, who took the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.14.
Other medalists for the Huskies were sophomore Jessica Li (2nd, 1:58.56) and senior Amanda Lane (4th, 2:00.77) in the 200 freestyle; freshman Hailey Boland (4th, 2:14.71) in the 200 IM; senior Eleanor Raidt (6th, 1:02.97) in the 100 butterfly; Lane (4th, 55.28) in the 100 freestyle; Li (3rd, 5:23.70) and senior Cassidy Jones (6th, 5:32.53) in the 500 freestyle; Dee (3rd, 58.46) in the 100 backstroke; and Boland (3rd, 1:10.09) in the 100 breaststroke.
OPRF’s three relays each placed third. The 200 medley relay of Dee, Walby, senior Victoria Evans and junior Natalia Chlebek had a time of 1:49.84; the 200 freestyle team of Lane, Li, Chlebek and Murphy finished in 1:40.06; and the 400 freestyle unit of Murphy, Li, Lane and Dee timed in 3:39.28.
Trinity High School
The Blazers finished eighth at the Leyden sectional with 81 points. All three relays earned medalist honors as each placed sixth.
Trinity’s 200 medley relay of junior Katerina Krysan, senior Madeline Halloran, sophomore Mia Sznewajs, and sophomore Sarah Falkenholm clocked a time of 2:11.47.
Sophomore Emma Steadman, along with juniors Ava Weiler, Nellie Dargis and Jessica Amstadt made up the 200 freestyle relay (2:08.56).
Sznewajs, Krysan, Halloran, and Falkenholm comprised the 400 freestyle relay (4:21.04).