Points aren’t awarded at the annual Evanston Invitational girls swim meet based on what place any individual swimmer or relay team actually earns.
Instead, a point table created years ago by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association — and tweaked annually — awards a certain number of points based strictly on times.
But you can’t keep a good competitor like Hana Weber down, no matter how you award points.
The Evanston junior scored her team’s only victory in a hotly-contested 100-yard breaststroke event Saturday and lifted the Wildkits to a second place team finish at the 13th annual invitational held at the Burton Aquatic Center.
State power Oswego needed a 1-4 finish in the final event of the day, the 400 freestyle relay, to edge out the host team for the first place plaque by a margin of 4,718 to 4,680 in the 9-team field that also included Loyola Academy (3,671), Lake Forest (3,349), Peoria Notre Dame (3,340), Germantown of Wisconsin (2,2726), Northside College Prep (2,393), Homewood-Flossmoor (1,979) and Addison Trail/Willowbrook (1,545).
The Wildkits earned at least 10 season best individual times and scored their best team finish at the invite since they won the title in 2014.
“We not only had a bunch of season bests, we had a lot of lifetime bests in there,” pointed out ETHS head coach Kevin Auger. “We had a lot of good swims today and a lot of those came from our freshmen. That group is throwing down lifetime bests every time out. They’re performing like varsity swimmers as freshmen, and that’s pretty impressive.
“We have a lot of good swimmers and we’re a better team this year than we were last year. We swam well against New Trier (Thursday in a dual meet loss), too, and it’s hard to put together two good meets in the same week like we did.”
A freshman class topped by standouts like Erin Long, Samantha Rhodes, Natalie Long and Caroline Chapon did much of the damage for the Wildkits in the first big invitational test of their collective high school careers.
But the most impressive effort was turned in by Weber, even though she was one second off her season best so far in the breaststroke.
With a time of 1 minute, 11.14 seconds, Weber out-touched Northside Prep’s Olivia Borawski by 3-100ths of a second. Notre Dame’s Kiera Fennal was a close third in 1:11.19.
“The competition was there, even though they didn’t throw down the times they had coming in,” said Auger. “That was a great race and Hana was amazing. No matter what the scoring is, first place ALWAYS matters in swimming. That’s probably her biggest win since she came to ETHS. This is a big meet for us, and today the girls showed what kind of competitors they are.
“You have to credit the freshmen class for their enthusiasm because it’s so infectious for the entire team. But you also have to credit the seniors for helping them keep their confidence up and holding the nerves to a lesser extent. This freshman group is competitive in the best sense of the word. When one girl throws down a good time, another one says ‘I can do that.’ They push themselves and they support each other completely.”
Erin Long chalked up a pair of top 5 individual finishes, and was close to lifetime bests in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. She claimed 2nd place in the 50, in 25.77, and came back to place 4th in the 100 in 55.58. She also contributed respective splits of 25.84 and 55.66 to help both the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams claim runnerup finishes.
Senior Clio Hancock also placed in the top 5 twice, finishing 2nd behind Oswego’s Mari Kraus with a clocking of 2:12.53 in the 200 individual medley, and managing a 4th in the 100 butterfly in a season best 1:01.18.
Also providing individual highlights for the host team were Rhodes, 4th in the IM in 2:17.55; Lane Raedle, tie for 4th in the 50 freestyle in 26.23; Katy Donati, 5th in the 100 freestyle in 56.34; and Kathleen Shotwell, who trimmed 8 seconds off her seed time in the 500 freestyle and placed 5th in 5:28.24.
Evanston’s depth also helped in the relays, as the Kits finished 3-4 in the 200 medley, 2-4 in the 200 freestyle, and 2-5 in the 400 freestyle.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.