Evanston senior Lucy Hogan is closing in on her first Illinois High School Association state diving championship.

And the Wildkit standout will have company on the deck at the ETHS pool Saturday.

Teammate Jamie Otwell joined Hogan, the overwhelming favorite to capture the crown, as an additional qualifier after 8 dives during Friday’s preliminary rounds and the Wildkits will be represented on the final day of the competition by multiple divers for only the second time in program history. Kathy Arndt (4th place) and Debbie Wirth (10th) both earned top 10 finishes in 1985.

Evanston also earned berths in the consolation heats — for teams that posted 7th through 12th fastest qualifying times — in both the 200-yard freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay.

Hogan paced all divers with a score of 334.85 points during the prelims and semifinals on Friday, and is now just 3 dives away from finishing her senior year on a triumphant note. She placed runnerup in the IHSA competition as both a freshman and a sophomore before skipping high school competition last year.

Hogan leads her closest challenger, Eva Kelly of Nazareth Academy, by a whopping 29 points.

Otwell, a junior in only her second year competing in the sport, just missed advancing to the final day last year but eased into the final round with a score pf 292.75, good for 9th place overall and only 8 points shy of the 4th best score coming out of Friday.

In the relays, the Wildkits weren’t able to match their school record performances at last week’s sectional meet, but wouldn’t have qualified for the championship heats in either the 200 or 400, even if they had broken those records again. That’s how fast the competition was.

ETHS turned in the 10th fastest prelim times in both races. The foursome of Mackenzie Tucker, Cassie Tingley, Lily Consiglio and Erin Long was timed in 1:35.97, just off their previous best of 1:35.48. Oswego East paced the qualifiers Friday with an effort of 1:33.92.

In the 400 relay, Tingley, Tucker and Long teamed up with Hallie Seed for a 3:31.33 showing, close to the school record of 3:31.04 but 4 full seconds short of reaching the championship heat. Neuqua Valley rates as the team to beat in that race with a prelim time of 3:25.78.

The 200 medley relay team of Lane Raedle, Hana Weber, Consiglio and Tingley posted the 17th fastest prelim time of 1:47.61 and bowed out of the competition.

Individual non-qualifiers for ETHS included Long, 52.46  in the 100 freestyle and 1:53.52 in the 200 freestyle; Tingley, 52.93 in the 100 freestyle; Consiglio, 57.63 in the 100 butterfly and 24.39 in the 50 freestyle; and Samantha Rhodes, 5:08.17 in the 500 freestyle.

Rhodes was the lone Wildkit to turn in a faster time Friday than at the sectional, but only by half a second.

“I’m not at all disappointed by our performances today,” said Evanston head coach Kevin Auger. “Even when our times weren’t as good as last week, we moved up in our places, and this meet is all about places.

“The sprint relay team did everything they could at the sectional (shaved, tapered, rested) to get here. At least two-thirds of the population (qualifiers) get slower when they get here, and relative to the rest of them, we did better than that.”

Competition resumes on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Burton Aquatic Center.  

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for Evanston Township High School.

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