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St. Charles East girls swimming doesn’t overthink on big first day

Alexis Yager of Rosary competes in the breaststroke during the 200-yard individual medley preliminary round Friday at the IHSA girls swimming and diving state finals held at New Trier in Winnetka.
Alexis Yager of Rosary competes in the breaststroke during the 200-yard individual medley preliminary round Friday at the IHSA girls swimming and diving state finals held at New Trier in Winnetka.

WINNETKA – St. Charles East girls swimmers adopted “#JEAH” as the slogan on the back of this season’s state meet T-shirts, per senior Shea Hoyt’s recommendation.

“JEAH” is a nod to an affirmative catchphrase credited to Olympian Ryan Lochte, who’s not exactly known for his deep views on life.

The slang wasn’t quite overwhelming on a crowded New Trier pool deck during Friday’s state preliminaries. Then again, it didn’t have to be. The Saints personified loosey-goosey on their own while qualifying eight entries for today’s finals, including four in championship races.

“I think not overthinking it is a good idea,” Hoyt said.

East shined behind the duo of Iowa recruits Hoyt and Izzie Bindseil, plus sophomore Jordan Morling. Between individual and relay events, Bindseil and Morling both will be part of four swims today, while Hoyt competes in three.

Bindseil, seeded fourth in the 500-yard freestyle, will be part of the lengthiest championship final. Next comes the 200 medley relay of Morling, Hoyt, Isabel Herb and Katie Nagler.

Hoyt trimmed about a second off her personal best in the 100 breaststroke, winning her heat in 1:02.90 and ultimately placing third in prelims. Moments earlier, Morling finished third in the 100 backstroke in 56.09.

“You get more big swims underneath your belt, and every time, it gets a little bit easier,” East coach Joe Cabel said.

Rosary, which advanced seven entries from prelims – including Kate Canfield (100 backstroke), Erin Hart (50 freestyle) and Annie Gosselin (200 individual medley) in championship finals – can attest to that.

The Beads tied for 34th among teams last season on the heels of successive third-place finishes. Before that, the program claimed four successive state titles from 2006 to 2009. With no seniors on the state team, Rosary feels good not only about this season, but several beyond.

“Last year, obviously, was not a very good year for us,” junior Elaina Ricci said. “But it’s a learning experience and important to get here and come back. We have a lot more people making it back in individual events, and that’s the best part.”

Still, it wasn’t all elation. Rosary narrowly missed the six-lane cut for the championship finals in the 200 freestyle relay (0.01 seconds) and 200 medley relay (0.21).

The team instead enters with the top-seeded time in the consolation finals of both events. For team scoring purposes, there’s an 18-point gulf between winning a championship relay (32 points) and a consolation relay (14).

“It was really nerve-racking,” said Hart, a St. Charles resident who was part of the 200 free relay and also will swim for the consolaton title in the 100 free. “Everything about this meet is nerve-racking, but we did really come through so far.”

St. Charles North sophomore Monica Guyett qualified for the consolation final in the 500 free, as her 4:58.61 preliminary time fell five-hundreths of a second short of the championship cut.

Guyett later competed with Loriel Hutchison, Sammy Sauer and Grace Samuelson as part of a 400 free relay that won its heat but was not among the top 12 times. As the North Stars awaited their fate watching the final heats and the scoreboard, they mostly smiled and socialized.

Why not? A few steps away, coach Rob Rooney sported North’s team shirt, a pink ensemble with a modified Eminem lyric on the back: “Had a dream I was queen/I woke up – still queen.”

“We like to be really fun, because if you’re too serious, then you may not swim as well,” Guyett said. “We just like to keep it energetic.”

JEAH, that seems to be the way to go this time of year. Just ask North’s crosstown counterparts.

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