There is something about swimming at home that brings out the best in the Fenwick High School girls swimming team.
The Friars won their own sectional Saturday in impressive fashion, qualifying 12 out of a possible 16 individual swims plus a diver and all three relays to this weekend’s state meet at New Trier.
It was the 13th consecutive sectional championship and 14th in the past 15 years for Fenwick, which scored 331 points to top an 11-team field.
Oak Park and River Forest was the runner-up with 279 points and qualified five individuals and three relays. Trinity was seventh with 74 points but did not get anyone through.
“Our girls definitely stepped up,” Fenwick coach Renee Miller said. “They were ready to rock.
“They have pride. They don’t like getting beat at home and that generates motivation.”
The Friars got right down to business by winning the opening race, the 200-yard medley relay. Fenwick’s quartet of sophomore Brooke West and seniors Catherine Clancy, Erin Scudder and Theresa Mullen timed a pool-record 1:44.28 seconds to edge favored OPRF by .62.
That was a sign of things to come as the Friars would go on to win six of the nine individual races before capping the title by again upsetting OPRF to capture the 400 freestyle relay in a pool-record 3:26.68.
The squad of Catie Wallace, Scudder, West and Mullen topped the Huskies’ top-ranked team of Natalie Ungaretti, Genevieve Curry, Samantha Neilson and Hanna Blankemeier by 4.28 seconds.
Mullen anchored all three relays for Fenwick, including the 200 free relay which finished second to OPRF. Senior Claire Drnek, sophomore Grace Rogowski and Wallace swam on that team, which timed 1:35.79, just .41 behind OPRF.
“I wish I could claim credit for it but it was really the girls,” Miller said. “They made up their minds they were going to do it.
“I thought we could get this far, but it was a cautious expectation. We definitely had a vision of them swimming well.”
The senior class also shined in the individual races, with Scudder winning the 100 butterfly in 56.50 and the 200 free in 1:53.45, one place ahead of Wallace, who just signed to play water polo at Cal. Wallace was also runner-up in the 100 free.
Clancy qualified by taking second in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley. Sophomore Brooke West won the latter race in 2:07.81 and also took the 100 backstroke in 57.73.
The Friars also got sectional titles from senior Claire Long in diving (370.85 points) and sophomore Kate Mackie in the 500 free (5:15.54). Mullen advanced in the 100 free and Drnek made it in the 50 free, taking third.
“I think Erin had a great day, I think Catie Wallace had a great day,” Miller said. “Catherine Clancy had an amazing day coming back from hip surgery. All the seniors did well.
“It’s exciting to work with a group of girls who worked hard all season creating a plan and then executed it. Now it’s taking the next step next week.”
Bulldogs finish fourth at Fenwick
The Riverside-Brookfield High School girls swimming team scored 159 points to earn fourth place at the Fenwick Sectional. Senior Hannah Flynn finished third in the 500 free (5:24.65) and fifth in the 200 IM (2:16.75). Junior Julia Keller also swam well, taking third in the 100 backstroke (1:00.40) and fifth in the 100 butterfly (1:01.95)
In the relays, The Bulldogs garnered a pair of fourth-place showings. The 200 medley team of senior Keri Burke, Flynn, freshman Veronica Cariveau and Keller recorded a time of 1:52.27, while the 400 free relay of Keller, Flynn, Cariveau and sophomore Alyssa Schwartz finished at 3:50.98. In the 200 relay, the quartet of Cariveau, Schwartz, senior Sarah Schoenheider and sophomore Chloe Marrello notched fourth (1:48.52).
Mike Laurich, a veteran club coach who is affiliated with the prestigious Academy Bullets, took over the RBHS girls swimming team this season.
“They are a great group of girls,” Laurich said earlier this year. “They’ve been very receptive to the change of course but they’re very tired.”