Fox Valley Conference
Coach: Scott Lesniak (12th season)
Last season: Fourth in FVC
Top returners: Lizzy Fournier, sr.; Molly Gilbert, sr.; Maddie Dolezal, sr.; Kelsey Harmsen, jr.; Audrey Boldwyn, sr.
Key newcomers: Maggie Bendell, so.
Worth noting: The Trojans finished fourth in the FVC for the third year in a row. With no FVC Invite last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, conference places were determined based on swim times at sectionals. ... Emily Marks, one of the area’s top sprinters, graduated after ending her career with a seventh-place finish in the 100 free (54.74) at sectionals. Dolezal took seventh in the 500 free (5:26.76) and had the fourth-fastest time among FVC swimmers. She was sixth fastest in the 200 free (2:02.83). Harmsen had the sixth-best FVC time in both the 50 free (26.26) and 100 backstroke (1:05.43). … Lattyak said Fournier, who had the fifth-best FVC time in the 100 butterfly (1:03.37) and sixth-best time in the 200 free (2:03.16), and Gilbert have strong breakout potential. … Bendell will compete at sectionals in diving and has state aspirations, Lattyak said. ... “I’m looking forward to seeing the team grow and how competitive our conference will be,” Lattyak said. “We have a very strong group of upperclassmen who are very serious and working toward some ambitious goals. ... It will be fun to see them race at conference, sectionals and, hopefully, state.”
Crystal Lake South co-op
(with Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge)
Coach: John Valentine (fifth season)
Last season: Second in FVC
Top returners: Abi Zelikman (PR), jr.; Avery Watson (CLS), so.; Mackenzie Resch (CLS), so.; Maddy Uhl (PR), jr.
Key newcomers: Abby Uhl (PR), fr.; Ashley Celentano (PR), fr.
Worth noting: The Gators (154 points) were nine points shy of Huntley (163) for the FVC title, improving a spot from their finish in 2019. South co-op figures to be among the top FVC contenders this season with a strong returning group of swimmers. ... Watson, the co-FVC Newcomer of the Year, had a stellar freshman debut, taking sixth in the 200 free (1:59.22), sixth in the 500 free (5:19.22) and seventh in the 100 butterfly (59.69) at sectionals. She recorded the fastest FVC time in the 100 butterfly, second fastest in the 200 free and third fastest in the 500 free. ... Maddy Uhl took eighth in the 100 free (55.20) at sectionals, the third-best time in the FVC. She had the fastest FVC time in the 100 backstroke (1:00.67) and fourth best in the 200 free (2:02.01). ... Resch took eighth in the 50 free (25.54) at sectionals, the second-best time in the FVC. Zelikman posted the fifth-fastest FVC time in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.83). ... Abby Uhl will be someone to look out for and could be in contention for Newcomer of the Year,” Valentine said. “CL3 swimming will be strong again this season with many returning athletes. We look forward to seeing how our newest swimmers develop, having parents at meets and having relays again.”
Coach: Amy Field (sixth season)
Last season: Seventh in FVC
Top returners: Ali Fitzgerald, jr.; Olivia Allendorf, jr.
Key newcomer: Margaret Nowak, fr.
Worth noting: Fitzgerald was FVC Newcomer of the Year in 2019 and had the Chargers’ best postseason finish last year, placing seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.64) at sectionals, the top time in the FVC. Fitzgerald is a state hopeful in that event, Field said. Fitzgerald also had the fifth-best time in the 200 IM (2:22.39) among FVC peers. … D-C welcomes eight freshmen who have brought in “amazing energy,” Field said. One of those promising freshmen, Nowak, could be in contention for conference titles, she said. … “As a single high school team, we have a tough time competing against the co-op teams and larger high schools,” Field said. “Our goals focus on personal bests. We have a chance to get some school records this year, including relays. Both Alison Fitzgerald and Margaret Nowak will be a big factor for our team this year.”
Coach: Jenna Gaudio (fourth season)
Last season: First in FVC
Top returners: Ella Young, sr.; Abby DeVries, sr.; Caitlyn Gooden, sr.; Jillian Cherwin, jr.; Ashley Garrard, jr.; Kate Gribbens, so.
Key newcomer: Rebecca Rocks, fr.
Worth noting: The Red Raiders were 12-0 in FVC duals last season and won the FVC title, based on sectional times. ... Young, who qualified for state in 2019, was sixth in the 200 IM (2:15.13) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (1:00.04). Her 200 IM time was sixth best in the FVC, and her 100 butterfly time was second best. ... Cherwin took seventh in the 200 IM (2:16.62) at sectionals with the second-best time to Young in the FVC. She also had the fifth-best time in the 500 free (5:30.44) among FVC swimmers. … Garrard had the FVC’s third-best time in the 200 free (2:00.85) and the fourth best in the 100 backstroke (1:03.16). DeVries posted the third-best FVC time the 100 backstroke (1:01.41) and the fourth best in the 100 butterfly (1:02.32). ... Gaudio is excited to see what Rocks can do as a freshman. Gaudio thinks the team is capable of setting multiple individual and relay school records. … “The team is a tight-knit group and works to challenge and hold each other accountable,” she said. “The senior class has worked incredibly hard to get the Huntley program to the level it is. The girls have been focusing on speed and endurance. The FVC Invite will have a lot of fast swims. The entire conference is growing and getting faster every year. It will be a close, competitive meet.”
Coach: Rebecca Dziubla (first season)
Last season: Fifth in FVC
Top returners: Katelyn Mumper (Jac), so.; and Abby Murphy (Hamp), sr.
Key newcomers: Carly Pierzchalski (Jac), fr.; Melanie Ng (Jac), fr.
Worth noting: The Golden Eagles are bringing in 15 freshmen to the program this fall, a big difference from only two new faces last season. … Dziubla takes over as head coach for Emily Peterson, who led the Golden Eagles for the past seven seasons. Jacobs co-op captured back-to-back FVC Invite championships in 2017 and 2018 and took runner-up in 2019. Jacobs grad Jenny Tokarz had a pair of fifth-place swims in the 200 free and 500 free at sectionals. … It’s a bit of rebuilding year for Jacobs co-op, but Dziubla is excited for both the short- and long-term future of the program. ... “With over half of our girls new to the team, we will be focusing on building up a strong foundation for years to come,” Dziubla said. “Even with this interesting dynamic, the girls have already shown a strong sense of collective community, and it will be exciting to see how the girls can motivate each other. We will be looking to get Katelyn Mumper ready for her potential first state bid. I would not be surprised to see Carly Pierzchalski make an attempt based on her first week at practice.”
Coach: Sharon Lesniak (third season)
Last season: Third in FVC
Top returners: Andrea Avila, jr.; Morgan Donavan, sr.; Reilly Byron, so.; Victoria Sadowski, so.; Riley Tobin, sr.; Abby Anderson, so.; Mackenzie Cutler, sr.
Key newcomers: Emma Blanken, fr.; Jenna Harris, fr.; Campbell Bitterman, fr.
Worth noting: McHenry made the biggest jump in the FVC standings last year, taking third after finishing sixth in 2019. ... The Warriors graduated their top two swimmer, Melisa Nava, who finished sixth in the 200 free at sectionals. Byron had a strong freshman debut, placing eighth in the 200 IM (2:17.23), the third-fastest time in the FVC. She also had the fourth-fastest FVC time in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.88) and fifth fastest in the 50 free (26.01). ... Avila had the sixth-fastest FVC time in both the 200 IM (2:23.88) and 100 butterfly (1:03.97). Tobin had the sixth-best FVC time in the 500 free (5:46.69). ... Lesniak said her five upperclassmen have really helped build a strong team with their “great mindset and work ethic.” ... “We have strong leadership from these upperclassmen,” Lesniak said. “With our team’s strong connection, they continue to work as a family. Last year was a true test to their compassion and support. They were there for each other, and their spirit was strong with all of the challenges all teams had last year.”
Woodstock North co-op
Coach: Renee Walker (eighth season)
Last season: Sixth in FVC
Top returners: Hannah Blaksley (WN), sr.; Haley Halsall (WHS), sr.; Izzy Halsall (WHS), sr.; Addison Walker (WHS), so.; Bella Borta (WN), so.
Worth noting: Blaksley, who was named FVC Most Valuable Swimmer and co-Newcomer of the Year last year, returns as the area’s top sprinter after she placed third in the 50 free (24.68) at sectionals. She posted the fastest conference times in both the 50 free and 100 free (54.68). ... Haley Halsall was fourth in the 500 free (5:16.34), which was the top time in the FVC, and seventh in the 100 butterfly (1:00.53), which was the third-best time in the FVC, at the sectional meet.