You won’t find any star swimmers in the Lyons Township High School pool, but you will find good ones everywhere you look.
LTHS used that talent to good effect on Saturday to win its own sectional with 287 points, edging out rival Hinsdale Central by 14 points. The Lions qualified 10 individual entries and all three relays to next weekend’s state meet at New Trier.
No one person in that group stands out, which sums up how the Lions rolled this fall.
“That’s kind of the funny thing because we have such a deep team,” LTHS coach Kurt Johns said. “We don’t really have any superstars. They’re all very good swimmers and they’re all at a comparable level.
“If you look at our relay splits, they are all consistent. Everyone is a really good swimmer. It is truly the epitome of a good team effort.”
LTHS has traditionally been strongest in the relays and that was the case again at Saturday’s sectional, as all three finished second. The 200-yard medley team of seniors Marie Zahorik and Elizabeth Murphy, freshman Maeve Swinehart and junior Kristen Young timed 1:48.11, while the 200 freestyle squad of Murphy, sophomore Mackenna Dunn, senior Lauren Rosenberger and Young clocked 1:37.76, missing first place by .03. The 400 free quartet of Rosenberger, freshman Paige Mitchell, senior Elizabeth Everett and Dunn finished in 3:35.94, just .73 behind Hinsdale Central.
Ironically, the Lions only sectional championships came in races in which no one made the state qualifying standard. Freshman Maggie Ferguson advanced automatically by winning the 200 individual medley in 2:11.99, while Swinehart did the same in the 100 butterfly (59.64).
“They both got through so it will be a good experience for them next week,” Johns said. “Our divers did amazing and it was great to get all three relays through.”
Dunn qualified in the 200 free (second, 1:54.70) and 100 free (second, 53.48), while Rosenberger advanced in the 200 free (third, 1:55.31) and 500 free (second, 5:07.26). Ferguson also made it in the 100 breaststroke (third, 1:07.53) and Murphy did so in the 50 free (second, 24.64).
Juniors Kimmy Vitek and Kelly Ryser finished 2-3 in the diving competition. Vitek (464.45 points) had the fifth-best sectional score in the state while Ryser is ranked 12th. They represent the Lions’ best shot at bringing home state medals, which are awarded to the top 12 finishers in each event. No swimmers are expected to medal, though Johns wouldn’t rule it out.
“It will be tough,” Johns said. “I’m not saying that we can’t do it, but they will have to be on Friday. It will depend on how much they believe in themselves and elevate their game. Based on what happened today, there is still something left in the tank and I think they can get better.”
Even if the Lions do not score any points at state, the season was a successful one.
“Everyone that swam today had a lifetime best in at least one event,” Johns said. “If you’re going faster than you ever had before, it’s got to put a smile on your face. From that perspective, I’m really pleased with the girls.”
Riverside-Brookfield High School finished fourth in the 12-team field with 135 points. Senior Sydney Veon was the only Bulldog to qualify for the state meet, as she took fourth in the breaststroke (1:07.76). It will be Veon’s second trip to state; she finished 52nd last year.