IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Some athletes rise to the occasion.
Others soar past it, way past it.
Look up, because Loyola Academy senior swimmer and North Carolina State-bound Shannon Kearney must still be getting to know a cloud or two.
The occasion last weekend: the Glenbrook South Sectional in Glenview on Nov. 11. Kearney, a Deerfield resident, sped to first place in a pair of events (50 free and 100 backstroke) and swam swift legs on two runner-up and state-qualifying relays teams (200 medley, 200 freestyle).
“I always like starting a big meet with Shannon,” said Ramblers coach Mike Hengelmann, alluding to Kearney’s lead-off duty on the 200 medley relay, the first race. “She’s good at helping us establish momentum.”
Kearney pulled her way to an electric backstroke split of 25.12 in the relay to give her quartet a fairly comfortable early lead against the eventual winning crew from New Trier (pool-record 1:43.47). Freshman Allison Mulvey and seniors Margaret Guanci and Cassidy Coughlin swam LA’s other three legs.
The foursome’s runner-up time of 1:45.56 also eclipsed the previous pool record of 1:45.89, set in 2013.
Kearney then topped the 50 free field with a 23.67 — her first sub-24 clocking — and collected another first-place medal with a 55.69 the 100 back at Glenbrook South’s natatorium.
That result in the 100 back wasn’t too far off the 55.42 she posted to take third in the event at the state meet last fall, and it happens to rank third among all state qualifiers from last weekend’s sectionals.
“Crazy fast,” Hengelmann said of Kearney’s day last weekend.
Kearney joined Texas Christian University recruit Coughlin, University of Wisconsin recruit Guanci (anchor) and sophomore Chloe Brown as silver medalists in the 200 free relay (runner-time of 1:36.58).
“We’re happy with where we finished [as a team, in fourth place with 150 points],” Hengelmann said. “We’re not as deep as we were in previous seasons, and the state cuts keep getting faster.”
Guanci also earned berths in the 100 back (third place, 56.62) and 100 fly (fourth, 56.95) for this weekend’s state swimming and diving meet at New Trier. Ramblers junior diver Emily Rourke found out a day later (Nov. 12) that she had advanced to state with an at-large score of 376 points (ninth place).
Notable: Ramblers swimming coach Mike Hengelmann, on his youngest state qualifier (freshman Allison Mulvey, leg No. 2 in the medley relay) last weekend: “It would have been easy for her to feel intimidated at a meet [Glenbrook South Sectional] like this, with so many great teams and fast swimmers. But she wasn’t. It was nice to see her compete well and get excited about qualifying.”