Ruby Powell held a small plastic cup of water in each hand as she walked briskly to receive a first-place medal at last weekend’s Niles North swimming and diving sectional.
To the victor goes the … roiling liquid.
The Deerfield junior and Texas Christian University recruit sped to an impressive 56.15 in the 100-yard backstroke, bettering her seed time by more than two seconds and topping the state’s reigning runner-up in the event (Loyola Academy senior Libby Jardeleza, 56.52).
Powell’s time in the event ranks first among all state qualifiers.
“Going into it, I was more laid-back than I was in the 50 [freestyle],” said Powell, who also qualified for state in the 50 free (24.05, second place) and as a member of the Warriors’ 200 free relay (1:37.37, fourth).
“I felt I hit all my turns and [performed well] underwater. The hard work and tweaks in technique I made [under Deerfield coach John Sullivan] — all helped today; everything came together.”
Sullivan’s one-word reaction to Powell’s significant time drop in the 100 back: “Huge,” he said.
Powell’s state results in the 100 back from 2011-13, in a word: consistent. She finished 11th (57.99) as a freshman, followed by 10th (57.38) two seasons ago and 10th (56.95) last fall.
Steady Deerfield sophomore Lindsay Guare essentially secured her team’s first state berth last weekend, scoring 448.9 points (fourth place) in the meet’s morning diving segment. The point total was well above the cut-off for at-large state qualifiers — news she didn’t officially learn until the next day.
“Smart girl … and she’s a smart athlete,” Warriors diving coach Doug Foerch said of the reigning Central Suburban League North champion. “I’d bet she knows more about the rules of diving than some diving coaches know. And she’s still a ‘baby’ in the sport.”
Guare only started diving competitively last year, making the Warriors’ state series team but falling short of the cut-off mark after five dives at a sectional.
“Confidence and experience,” she said of factors that helped her advance to state this fall, before heading to Marengo for the second leg of her busy day on Nov. 15.
Guare — blessed with power and finesse off the boards — is also a member of Allegiance, a youth color guard program that rehearses each weekend in Marengo when it isn’t competing.
“I don’t know much about color guard,” Foerch said, “but if Lindsay is involved, she’s probably very good at it.”
Deerfield’s second diver at the sectional, senior Sabrina Linton (380.4 points, 11th place), missed qualifying for state by only 6.05 points. Glenbrook South senior Christina Coleman (386.45 points, 10th place) emerged as the last at-large qualifier from the Niles North Sectional.
“Lindsay and I motivate each other … we’re pretty similar divers — and we’re really competitive,” said Linton, also a gymnast and pole vaulter at Deerfield.
Deerfield finished sixth (106 points) at the highly competitive sectional last weekend. Loyola Academy (255) and New Trier (219) went 1-2.
Warriors junior Aana Tsakiris, freshman Lily Kurzydlo and junior Lauren Kurzydlo followed Powell on that state-qualifying 200 free relay.
Deerfield’s 200 medley relay of Lily Kurzydlo, Tsakiris (anchor) and freshmen Ariela Katz and Sydney Colburn placed sixth (150.65) — shy of the state cut (1:49.77) but nearly eight seconds faster than the unit’s seed time.
The state meet starts Nov. 21 at Evanston.
Notable: Christina Loukas’ famous name resurfaced at the Niles North Sectional after Loyola’s Rourke amassed 531.6 points to win the diving segment Nov. 15. Loukas — the former star diver at Deerfield (’04) and two-time U.S. Olympian — won the 2003 state diving title with a meet-record 507.55-point total. She also topped the state diving fields in ’01 and ’02. Now 28, she finished eighth (3-meter springboard) at the 2008 Olympics in China and ninth in the same event at the 2012 Summer Games in London. … Deerfield finished runner-up (314 points) to Glenbrook North (382) at the CSL North swimming and diving meet at Niles North Nov. 8, getting championship efforts from Guare (diving), Powell (50 free, 100 back) and the 200 free relay (Powell, Tsakiris, Lily Kurzydlo and Lauren Kurzydlo). The victorious relay edged a Glenbrook North quartet by four one-hundredths of a second.