Any sectional with Dunlap in it is never easy for Quad-City swimmers.
Saturday’s IHSA girls swim sectional at United Township does not look to be an exception. The diving competition gets underway at 9 a.m. at the UT pool with swimming to begin at 1 p.m.
“Dunlap is very tough,” said Rock Island coach Melissa Messerschmidt. “They have a lot of really talented kids.”
The three Quad-City schools don’t look to need more than one bus for next week’s state meet — and that’s if all goes well.
Moline’s top hopes are diver sophomore Taylor Puglisi, who nearly set a Western Big Six meet record last Saturday while claiming the conference title at the Rock Island High School pool, and her teammates sophomore Olivia White in the 200 and 500 freestyle and senior Laney Krebs in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
“The 200 freestyle has the longest odds,” Moline coach Craig Frederiksen said. “The 500 is a longer race and has more room to drop time.”
White needs to drop about four seconds in each to meet state qualifying standards.
Swimmers have to either finish first at the sectional or beat the state qualifying standard there to advance to the state next Friday and Saturday.
Moline will extend its taper a bit this week, which could help. But those are the Maroons’ best bets.
“I am not saying something else crazy couldn’t happen,” Frederiksen added of his other swimmers.
Rock Island’s 200 medley relay team is one of its main hopes, plus junior Mikayla DePover in the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly.
“They won the event last year, and I think we have an even stronger medley relay this year,” Messerschmidt said of the team that consists of Allison Nickel, DePover, Sydney Branson and Maria Quilty.
The key for her team is to remain grounded despite last week’s Western Big Six conference title, which snapped a 21-year drought for the Rocks.
“The goal this entire year has been conference,” Messerschmidt said. “They may feel like they are done. They need to make sure they stay focused and see if we can drop even more time than we did at conference.”
United Township has a pair of swimmers that could advance, too, in juniors Brandi LaFountaine in the 100 backstroke and Kendra Diamond in the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle.
“It’s looking like our sectional is going to be really fast,” said Panthers’ first-year coach Brett Busch, “so it’s looking like it’s going to come down to making cuts. Diamond is quite a bit off the state cuts in the 200 IM and 100 free. Her 500 free wasn’t her best, so we are looking at improving that as well as the (200 medley) relay.
“Brandi is really close to her cut time in the 100 back. I think she has a little bit left in the tank.”