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St. Charles East girls swimming prevails in friendly crosstown meet

Anna O’Malley of St. Charles East competes in the 200-yard freestyle during Thursday’s dual meet at St. Charles North.
Anna O’Malley of St. Charles East competes in the 200-yard freestyle during Thursday’s dual meet at St. Charles North.

ST. CHARLES – St. Charles East captured 11 of 12 events during Thursday’s girls swimming meet at St. Charles North.

North Stars sophomore diver Katie Schutz, a converted gymnast, earned the night’s other victory.

Neither side backflipped or flipped out over the Saints’ 115-70 win. If anything, East remained grounded about a talent base it has felt good about since workouts started in August.

“We’re definitely really deep, so we have every event covered,” Saints senior Jamie Cranfill said. “We’re really close, and it really motivates all of us to do our best.”

Cranfill covered the 100-yard backstroke in a season-best 1:01.44 in one of East’s victories.

Classmate Stephanie Garvin took the 500 freestyle in 5:13.34 while anchoring winning relays in the 200 freestyle (1:40.79) and 400 freestyle (3:40.34).

Competing for the first time since finishing second behind three-time defending state champion New Trier at the Saints’ College Events Meet on Saturday, East channeled some residual energy.

“We came in a close second with the best team in the state, so we’re really pumped, and we know that we’re going to go far this season, especially at state and sectionals coming up,” Garvin said.

North, which switched many of its regulars’ events, is also gearing toward the looming state series.

Sectionals are set for Nov. 16, with the state meet scheduled for Nov. 22-23, which ultimately was why coach Rob Rooney took the end result in stride.

“A lack of focus, you know, is really what I saw. But it’s all right. It’s kind of what sometimes it should be in October. I don’t mind not being fresh,” Rooney said.

“You’d like to be at least racing to what your capabilities are, but it’s what it is, so we’ll see. We’ve got a month to get it figured out, and we will. We’re going to be rocking and rolling with our relays at the end.”

The quartet of Loriel Hutchinson, Monica Guyett, Serena Allendorfer and Samantha Sauer finished second in the 200 free relay, one second off East’s pace.

Thursday’s dual doubled as a fundraiser for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

St. Charles High alum Shane Whildin, a former Saints state champion now working in Speedo’s marketing department, donated Breaststroke 4 Hope T-shirts and swim caps to both schools in a bid to bolster the community atmosphere inherent to most every East-North competition.

Donations to the cause were accepted in lieu of admission, and there were more fans clad in pink than in Saints orange and black or North Stars blue.

This week, Whildin called the effort the first of its kind for a high school meet since Breaststroke 4 Hope launched in September 2012. Guinea pigs don’t often take kindly to water, but Whildin’s optimism about the test case still prevailed.

The early verdict looks favorable.

“It’s definitely for a great cause and makes us think beyond just swimming and diving,” Saints coach Joe Cabel said, “but taking our mind off what we’re doing and trying to raise money for an important cause, I think it makes it easier to swim and dive.”

Added Cranfill: “It’s really fun supporting a cause with North because they’re our closest rivals.”

Official figures were not available, but Rooney estimated the effort raised close to $1,000.

Individual winners Katie Nagler (100 freestyle, 54.27) and Jordan Morling (100 butterfly, 58.75) were part of three winning relays, also swimming the 200 medley relay that won in 1:50.86.

Cranfill and Shea Hoyt, who won the 50 freestyle in 25.09, opened the medley relay, and Hoyt also was part of East’s 400 free relay. Isabel Herb claimed the 100 breaststroke in 1:10.03 while swimming with the 200 free relay. Anna O’Malley (200 freestyle, 2:01.07) and Lucy Johnson (200 individual medley, 2:14.45) were the Saints’ other winners.

Schutz registered a season-best score of 186.95 as she continues to improve in a sport she only began in high school.

Teammate Jordyn Paulsen encouraged Schutz to try diving, and she obliged.

Shealyn Boland coaches divers at both St. Charles schools, so the meet felt in part like a practice with loud supporters wearing pink.

“It’s good to dive with the girls that you’re really close with,” Schutz said. “We pushed each other, and that’s good.”

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