Glenn Brown knew what he was getting into when he took over the Rosary girls swimming program following Bill Schalz’s retirement.
The Beads won 17 state trophies, including seven state championships, in Schalz’s 27-year reign, which ended last year with a second-place finish.
“When I was interviewing with Rosary for the job, they asked me why did I want the job,” Brown said. “I said that’s a good question because being a big sports fan, you always hear you don’t want to be that guy that replaces a legend. You want to be the next guy.
“But I felt confident in my abilities and the girls that were there and everything that I learned from Bill that we were going to maintain the status quo.”
Brown, who was Schalz’s assistant the past five seasons, has kept the program relevant even though the Beads have no seniors this season. They qualified two relays and seven individual swims to the state meet, which will be held Friday and Saturday at New Trier.
That won’t be enough to win a sixth consecutive trophy, but Brown is excited about what is to come not only this weekend but in future years.
“It’s been everything I could have hoped for,” Brown said. “The past five years we’ve had an amazing group of girls. Seven of them graduated last year.
“I don’t want to say the cupboard is bare because it’s not. We still have a strong team and I’m hoping to finish top 10 at state. We need to swim better than we did this past weekend and I think we will.”
The Beads are led by juniors Jessica Geriane, Elyssa Brault and Izzy Pytel. Geriane won the 100-yard backstroke at the Neuqua Valley Sectional in 55.80 and took fourth in the 100 freestyle.
Geriane was fifth and seventh, respectively, in those events at state last year and could be in line for a couple of top 3 finishes.
“She’s going to be crucial to our success this coming weekend,” Brown said. “Over the summer she just really took it up a notch and has become a little more fit and willing to work and willing to change to make herself faster.”
Brault, who was eighth in the 100 breaststroke at the 2018 state meet, won the sectional title in that event in 1:04.93 and also advanced in the 200 individual medley, where she finished third behind Naperville Central’s Paige Collins and Pytel, who also qualified in the 100 butterfly.
Geriane, Brault, Pytel and sophomore Sara Jass teamed up to win the 200 medley relay in 1:44.16. They also advanced in the 400 free relay and Jass qualified individually with a third-place showing in the breaststroke.
Elsewhere, St. Charles North won its own sectional with 317 points, 33 ahead of runner-up St. Charles East. Both schools advanced all three relays, while North had the maximum 16 individual qualifiers plus diver Ava Atkins and East got 13 swimmers through and diver Jillian Lobrillo.
North got sectional titles from senior Megan Armstrong in the backstroke, senior Mary Ellen Wolff in the 100 free, junior Payton Baxter in the 200 individual medley, sophomore Jillian Wilson in the 100 butterfly, sophomore Julia Fifer in the 50 free and sophomore Paige Armstrong in the 200 free.
Megan Armstrong is the defending state champion in the backstroke and is seeded third in that event, while Baxter is seeded second in the 200 I.M.
East senior Mary Jania captured the sectional title in the 100 breaststroke and was second to Baxter in the 200 IM, while junior Madison Supple and senior Hannah Murray were second in the 200 free and 100 free, respectively.