Among the first girls swimming and diving dual meets of the Mid-Suburban League season was one featuring a pair of teams undergoing dramatic identity changes.
Host Buffalo Grove claimed victory 114-72 against Schaumburg on Wednesday, but it’s fair to say that both teams like the new, improved versions of themselves.
Both the Bison and the Saxons are benefitting from a freshman jolt of talent that’s meshing nicely with top-notch holdovers from previous seasons.
On this night, Buffalo Grove took advantage of a 1-2-3 diving sweep led by Gillian Karsten (194.85) and was fortunate in that Schaumburg missed out on winning points in the 200-yard IM after a DQ.
But there’s no denying that BG’s strength — sprint freestyle — will cause plenty of teams problems.
The Bison came up with a 1-2 finish in the 200 free relay. Emilia Jedryka led a 1-2-3 sweep in the 50 free in 26.22, and senior co-captain Emily Schulstad had the winning efforts in the 100 free (58.50), the 200 free (2:04.53) and supplied the anchor leg on the top 200 free relay.
Buffalo Grove is adjusting to first-year coach Mike McPartlin after Tom Mroz’s long run in charge of the program, but Schulstad said counting a quality win like this one will ease that transition.
“I think it’s really important for us, especially for our younger swimmers, to have success in one of these early meets so they can see what it feels like when we have everybody working together and to get the benefit of having our energy in the right place,” she said.
There was plenty working in favor of Schaumburg as well. The Saxons are led by junior state meet veteran Hana Mollin, this season joined by her sister, freshman standout Nina. The siblings teamed with freshman Madison Dohrn and junior Lynda Steen for victories in both the medley and 400 free relays.
Nina Mollin broke the pool record in winning the 100 breast (1:07.36) and also won the 500 free (5:11.31), while Hana won the 100 fly (1:01.71) and Dohrn took top honors in the 100 back (1:01.45) after coming up a fingernail short of Schulstad in a great 200 free race.
“Hana is the single biggest factor in the improvement of our program,” said Schaumburg coach Tim O’Grady. “What she did, right from the time she came to the team, was say, ‘OK, I’m here, and I’m here to work — that’s just how it’s going to be.’ That’s made such a difference to our whole team, but especially to the younger swimmers.”
Mollin and Co. may be about to reap the benefits of that cumulative effort, as the Saxons take aim at some lofty end-of-season goals.
“We’re having fun,” Hana Mollin said. “We’re definitely more competitive with the new group that’s come in, and we can’t wait to see where we might get this year. One of our goals is to see if we can get the medley and 400 relay to state. That would be new for us, so it’s exciting.”
McPartlin, too, is encouraged by the early returns. A recent loss to Mundelein in a close meet was a good sign, but he said there was no substitute for winning the first home dual of the season.
“I’m impressed with how our young swimmers performed,” he said. “I mean, we’re doing dryland workouts in addition to practices, so these girls are swimming tired right now. But you can see, they’re really having fun — it’s refreshing.”
Jillian Dombroski earned first-place points in the 200 IM (2:20.44) and Jedryka came up with a terrific runner-up effort in the 100 back (1:01.71). Following Jedryka in second and third in the 50 free were Stefanie Surdyka and Maja Pluta, and Dombroski, Gabriela Surdyka and Reagan Perkinson finished 2-3-4 in the 100 fly.
The Bison also got a 2-3-4 placement in the 100 breast with Rachel Hanna, Pluta and Sarah Clark.
“Our captains (Schulstad, Hanna and Clark) have been providing great leadership,” McPartlin said.
Barrington d. Elk Grove: The defending conference champs got started with a 103-69 victory over the Grens.
Individual winners for the Fillies included Emily Bucaro in the 200 free (1:55.92) and 100 free (53.63), Maria Pritchett in the 200 IM (2:15.08), Ally Penrod in the 50 free (24.52) and 500 free (5:07.37) and Emma Pritchett in the 100 fly (58.63).
Elk Grove got first-place points in the 100 breast from Michelle Cobirzan and in the 400 free relay from Natalie Wlodarz, Kylie Rittle, Ava Hennig and Rachel Ford.
Fremd d. Rolling Meadows: The host Vikings began their MSL slate with a 105-82 decision over the Mustangs.
Junior Sophia Kuehn had wins in both the 200 free (2:00.65) and the 500 free (5:22.09), and Fremd had first-place finishes in the 200 IM from Sarah Rothmeyer, in the 50 free from Abby Dannenbring and in the 100 fly from Lauren Savage.
Meadows had winners in the 100 free (Ashley Hintz, 56.92), 100 back (Hintz, 1:03.78), the 100 breast (Kate Mallek, 1:17.15) and in diving (Rosie Piscitello, 169.50).