Girls swimming: Naperville North impresses on opening day at state
Connor Binnig is in his first year as Naperville North's girls swimming and diving head coach, and if Friday's IHSA state meet preliminaries are any indication, he's got a bright future in his new post.
The Huskies propelled into Saturday's championship finals at the new FMC Natatorium in Westmont with all three relays intact, along with three individual events.
Junior Aimee Duhammel paced Naperville North individually by taking seventh in the 100-yard butterfly in 55.39. She also raced a leg in the meet-beginning 200 medley relay, along with senior Claire Jansen, señor Cameryn Schmidt and Cambria Swanson.
"Amie is a fun one," Binnig said. "She didn't swim freshman year so she joined us last year. She's got insane endurance and a really natural butterfly stroke. She pulls water like she weighs nothing."
The state meet is all about opportunity, and Binnig, for one, is happy to lead his crew back to Saturday's championship finals.
"We're fighting some illnesses right now, so we're just excited to get back tomorrow to get another swim," he said.
Hinsdale Central was its usual self, qualifying all three relays and five individuals, including junior Kit Schneider, who led off the 200 medley relay that took second in 1:43.32. She was joined by junior Caroline Kramer, Haley Dynis and Lauren Biegel.
Schneider wasn't done, not by a longshot. She took first in the 50 freestyle in 22.95, just .03 ahead of University High's Sally Ma, and then led off the 200 freestyle relay, which won in 1:34.55.
And if all that wasn't enough, consider that Schneider also led off the meet-ending 400 freestyle relay, which took fifth in 3:27.63.
"She did one individual, but she could have been easily top six in two different individuals," Red Devils coach Bob Barber said.
But for Schneider, it was all in a day's work.
"This morning I was with the team, and I think that helped me a lot," she said. "It's just been a lot of energy."
Naperville Central advanced two relays to Saturday's finals -- the 200 freestyle relay (fifth place in 1:35.24) and the 400 freestyle relay (eighth in 3:29.44). Both relays were led off by senior Grace Malinger.
"We had some good swims," Redhawks coach Mike Adams said. "I thought they did a really nice job. We wanted to get a few more individuals in, but the relays are good, and we're coming back tomorrow."
Central's neighbors to the south, Neuqua Valley, fared well as well, advancing the 200 medley relay to Saturday's final in 1:46.60. That unit consisted of Sophie Meng, Ruhee Chetan, Emily Wu and Elizabeth Rosenberg.
Wildcats senior Callie Tuma took seventh in the 500 freestyle in 4:59.50, while Chetan, a sophomore, checked in at 11th (1:04.11) in the 100 breaststroke.
Downers Grove South got a yeoman's effort from senior Audrey Mahony, who took sixth in the 50 freestyle (23.47) and 10th in the 100 freestyle (51.51).
That 50 free was the swim that was the most nerve-wracking for Mahony.
"I really wanted to go under 23.5, and I had a bad start at sectionals, so I've been working on that, so that was what I was really focused on," Mahony said.
The Wheaton co-op advanced in two individual events, while Downers Grove North and West Chicago each had one.