The below report was contributed by Kyle Ahlgren, is an alumni and former swimmer of Oak Park – River Forest High
New Trier won its fourth consecutive IHSA State Swimming and Diving Championship on Saturday, amassing 160.5 points to Downers Grove North’s 157. Fenwick finished third with 126.
Top 5 finishing teams
1. New Trier 160.5
2. Downers North 157
3. Fenwick 126
4. Loyola Academy 100
5. Mundelein 82
This is the 14th state championship for the Trevians, who were anchored by senior Kara Lucenti (1st in the 200 IM (2:02.27) and 2nd in the 100 Breast (1:02.90)), freshman Ingrid Wall (tied 4th in the 50 Free (23.26) and 4th in the 100 Breast (1:03.28), senior Christine Ryan (5th in the 500 Free (4:57.17)), senior Amelia Girgenti (8th in the 100 Free (52.09)), and sophomore Julia Green (11th in the 200 Free (1:52.97).
New Trier’s senior divers, Juliette Corboy and Tally Ford, finished second and third, respectively, delivering 25 points. This more than accounted for the margin of New Trier’s victory over Downers Grove North, whose freshman divers, Emily and Elizabeth Aument, finished 7th and 8th, respectively, accounting for 12 points.
Downers Grove North mounted a furious challenge on Saturday. The Trojans won the 200 Medley Relay (1:42.22) and 400 Free Relay (3:25.16) and were led by senior Gabby Sims, who successfully defended her state championship in the 100 Free (50.12) and won the 100 Back (53.93), recapturing the state championship that she won two years ago.
Barrington sophomore Kirsten Jacobsen won the 200 Free (1:46.98) in a thrilling race with Mundelein junior Erin Falconer (1:47.21) and repeated as State Champion in the 500 Free (4:46.93) as well. Jacobsen’s swim in the 200 free came out as a new State Record, breaking the 1:47.17 swum by Naperville Central’s Kelly McNichols in 2005.
Fenwick senior Mimi Schneider won the 50 Free in 22.87 (22.66 in prelims) and the 100 Fly in 53.86 (53.62 in prelims). Schneider’s teammate, Paulina Kaminski, won the 100 Breast in 1:02.40. Naperville Central sophomore Sydney Dusel won the Diving competition with 450.55 points.
No points are scored in the Friday night preliminaries of the IHSA State Meet, but swimmers and relays do lock themselves in to the 6-up/6-down, Saturday finals, and the landscape of the team race is set. Based on prelim performances, New Trier was seeded to win the meet and outscore Downers Grove North by 12 points. Both teams had plenty of opportunities to move up and also faced significant slippage risk; the meet would be decided on the blocks and the boards in the highest-stakes environment that any high school swimmer can face. Girls from both New Trier and Downers Grove North rose to this challenge, resulting in an exceptionally hard-fought meet.
In the opening moments of the meet, Downers Grove North flipped the script and won the 200 Medley Relay, overcoming a massive butterfly leg from Fenwick’s Schneider. The Trojans’ team of Gabby Sims, Gabriele Serniute, Maddy Sims, and Emily Albrecht finished in 1:42.22. Imagine for a moment the spot Albrecht found herself in here: a fearsome team from Fenwick was rolling with the momentum from Schneider’s leg, and Fenwick Senior Colleen Barron – capping a great career sprinting for the Friars – had an excellent exchange. Albrecht dug deep and pulled away, however, cutting New Trier’s pre-finals advantage in half.
Kara Lucenti answered big-time for New Trier. Seeded behind the top qualifier by nearly a full second in the 200 IM, the Trevian Senior blitzed the field in a dominant 2:02.27.
Both New Trier and Downers Grove North slipped a bit in the 50 Free and moved up slightly in Diving, leaving Downers Grove North with an effective deficit of 6.5 points heading into the 100 Fly. In the consolation final of that event, Maddy Sims of Downers Grove North held her seed in 100 Fly in emphatic fashion, swimming 55.03, but with her teammate slipping off the 8th seed in the 100 Fly and with New Trier senior Amelia Girgenti moving up in the consolation final of the 100 Free, Gabby Sims took to the blocks in the 100 Free final with the swim meet in the balance – nothing less than first would do. Sims, a scion of Illinois swimming royalty who has made her own mark over the past four years, was equal to the challenge, defending her State Championship in 50.12 over Mundelein’s Falconer (50.29). When Sims slapped the water in victory, her exaltation wasn’t for the time (she’s been considerably faster), but for the team; the Trojans were still in it.
As the sixth seed in the 500 Free, New Trier senior Christine Ryan was on a free-roll, and she made the most of it, moving up a spot and increasing New Trier’s effective lead to 7.5 points.
Then came one of those moments that are deliciously fun for outsiders (like me), but are agonizing for many of the parents and coaches involved: New Trier and Downers Grove North faced off in adjacent lanes in the championship final of the 200 Free Relay. Mundelein’s Erin Falconer, Jennifer Kordik, Rachel Robb, and Karrie Kozokar won the event in 1:34.58, but both Downers Grove North and New Trier stepped up huge, with the Trojans moving up to second and the Trevians moving up to third. The net result gave New Trier an effective 9.5-point lead.
Gabby Sims then held her top seed in the 100 Back, winning in 53.93 and re-capturing the championship she initially won as a sophomore. When New Trier’s Lucenti and Wall held their seeds in the 100 Breast, however, the Trevians’ championship was secured (barring a disqualification in the last relay). The Trojans were unbowed, showing serious mettle in the 400 Free Relay with a resounding victory (3:25.16). The winning relay from Downers North was made up of Emily Albrecht, Lindsay Mathys, Maddy Sims, and Gabby Sims on the anchor.
In the disability races, which awarded full-blown state titles but whose scoring does not count toward the team battle, Paralympian Alyssa Gialamas again looked very good, but she wasn’t quite as dominant as she was in last year’s debut of the events. She won one of two state titles awarded in the 200 free with a 3:06.70; the other went to Maine South’s Francesca Figlioli in 3:19.16.
Gialamas also took a 100 free crown, with a 1:31.61. Figlioli, who as just a sophomore was a triple state champion, was also awarded a state title in that 100 with a 1:30.63.
Figlioli won a title in the girls’ 50 free as well with a 41.64, with Richwoods’ Samantha Peters taking the other in 41.36. Gialamas was only 2nd in her classification in that race.
And finally, with only two competitors, Phoebe Mejia from Glenbrook North and again Gialamas both earned their way to state titles in the 100 breaststroke with times of 2:13.11 and 2:42.99, respectively.