The top two girls’ swim teams from the Western Big Six Conference both will be represented at state next weekend after earning wins at Saturday’s Rock Island Sectional.
But it was conference runner-up and sectional hosting Rocky that earned four event wins to Moline’s one in record-breaking fashion.
Dunlap totaled 265 points to earn a sixth straight sectional title, beating out runner-up Peoria Notre Dame (246). Moline (188) took third, followed by Rock Island (180) at a sectional in which 14 schools earned points.
The Lady Rocks seized their first state entry in the opening swimming event of the afternoon, the 200-yard medley relay. Seniors Maria Quilty and Mikayla DePover paired with freshman Olivia Sholl and sophomore Allyson Smithson to win the event in 1:50.30, improving their own school record to edge Dunlap by over a second.
DePover repeated a sectional win in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.27), shaving two seconds off her school record in that event from a year ago. She also won the 100 butterfly in 57.70 to earn the pool record in her final swim in the home water. Her time edged a 57.89 set by Dunlap’s Savanna Sowards in 2016.
DePover said she really wanted the pool record in the 100 breast as well — she was only 12-hundredths of a second away — but three records and three state swims made for a great afternoon.
“I thought I swam well,” said DePover. “I had goals set for today, and I reached them, so I’m not too upset.”
She said the relay win, which punched four Rocky tickets to state, was a satisfying achievement, especially in the first swimming event of the day. But it also meant they couldn't be complacent.
“I think it made us push harder the rest of the meet,” said DePover, whose classmate and relay opener, Quilty, agreed.
“We were able to carry that momentum throughout the rest of the meet,” said Quilty, who earned her first two shots at state. “We started off on the right foot, and I think that helped us out.”
Quilty added an individual win in the 50 free in 25.21, two-tenths of a second ahead of two Dunlap swimmers. Though it wasn’t a personal best for her, she was happy with the win.
“It wasn’t the time that I was looking for, but the 50 free is just always so iffy,” said Quilty, who was also second in the 100 free. “It’s so close all the time, you never know what to expect. I love it and hate it.”
Rocky coach Dave Busch was voted Sectional Coach of the Year in his return to coaching and first season with the Rocks.
“We swam really well today,” Busch said. “The events we wanted to get to state, we got them to state.”
Rocky was runner-up in the 200 free relay, and Sholl was second behind DePover in the 100 breast. However, only winners and those meeting state-qualifying times punch state trips.
Moline junior diver Taylor Puglisi repeated as sectional diving champion, scoring a 383.25 to earn another trip to state. Galesburg’s Ari Bailey (325.60) was second. Maroon freshman Dylan Shrake (249.15) was sixth in a year which Moline diving coach Joel Delp was named Sectional Diving Coach of the Year. This is the fifth year in a row Moline has earned at least one state diving qualifier.
Puglisi said she even scored a nine on one of her dives, something she has yet to see in competition from anyone.
“That was a huge milestone for me to actually get a nine on a dive that last year I hated, and now it’s my new favorite dive,” Puglisi said of the reverse dive pike which she had her best form on. “I put it as my last dive on my list, so it was a really good way to end.”
Moline’s Olivia White was runner-up in the 500-free (5:13.63), falling short of the state cut time of 5:09.26 in the event in which she holds the school record. Fellow Maroon Gabbi Lopez took third in the 100 fly (1:00.24) and the 200 IM (2:13.92). White took third in the 200 free (1:58.78) and Moline’s 400 free relay (3:45.17) of Tori Adamson, Lopez, Sophie Greko, and White also earned bronze.
The only other team in the area to post a top-three finish was Morrison — which took sixth in the team standings — earning bronze in the 400-free relay (Gracen Harmon, Sydney Norman, Sadie Norman, and Sara Norman) in 1:43.06.
United Township was ninth as a team and Monmouth-Roseville took 13th.