Girls Swimming: Hinsdale Central’s Yu rewarded for work in backstroke

Story Image Downers Grove, 11/10/12--Hinsdale Central's Liza Gross hugs Hinsdale South's Rachel Hawken after finishing the 200 IM. Downers Grove South High School hosted a girls swimming sectional meet on Saturday afternoon. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media

Updated: November 12, 2012 9:24PM

A new crew of Hinsdale Central swimmers is headed to the state meet for the first time, starting Friday at Evanston.

One of the newcomers is junior Olivia Yu, who was one of four Red Devils to win events at the Downers Grove South Sectional Saturday.

Yu opened the meet by earning a state berth in the 200 medley relay (1:49.35), where the Red Devils took second behind Lyons (1:47.37). The Devils relay included Yu, Liza Gross, Olivia Garrett and Kerry Grosshans.

The junior then booked her first state berth in an individual event by winning the 100-yard backstroke — her favorite event — in 59.42 seconds.

“It’s really exciting. Last year I missed the 100 back by a little bit. I am really excited to be able to come back,” Yu said.

Yu is still learning about the event and credits her coaches and teammates for guidance. One of the things she has worked hard at in practice was her underwater dolphin kicks, usually off the wall after turns.

“I feel like I am learning a lot from all of those girls,” Yu said. “Coach (Bob Barber) tells me I’m making progress.”

The Devils’ lone returning state veteran, sophomore diver Margy McCarthy, booked a return engagement by winning Saturday morning’s competition with 451.40 points. McCarthy is the highest ranked Hinsdale Central athlete advancing to Evanston. Her score is fourth in the state among all sectional competitors.

Junior teammate Marley Marano (436.80) advanced to her first state diving meet after placing third at the sectional.

Senior Cara LoPiano and sophomore Margaret Kaufman will compete in multiple individual events at the state meet.

While LoPiano is headed to state for the third time, it will be her first for Hinsdale Central after transferring from York. She won the 500 free (5:03.04) at sectionals ahead of Kaufman (5:07.99) and placed second in the 200 free (1:54.48). LoPiano is the highest seeded Hinsdale Central swimmer, with the 10th fastest sectional time in the 500 free.

Kaufman also earned a bid in the 200 free (1:55.05), eclipsing the state cut of 1:55.71 despite taking third.

The 400 freestyle relay of Garrett, LoPiano, Gross and Kaufman qualified by coming in second in 3:37.45.

Senior Liza Gross (2:11.89) won the 200 individual medley to advance.

Hinsdale South

Sophomore Rachel Hawken will make a return to state, but in a different event.

Hinsdale South’s top swimmer placed second in the 100 back (59.66) behind Yu.

Hawken knew her best shot to reach the state meet as an individual was in the 100 back, but nearly qualified in the 200 IM, as well. Her time of 2:12.13 was about a second short of the state qualifying mark of 2:11.08; she finished .24 behind first-place Gross of Hinsdale Central.

“I was getting momentum two weeks ago,” Hawken said. “I’ve been getting close and hoped I would (qualify). It’s nice because I’ve been getting closer and closer each year.”

Hawken’s first trip to state last season came in the 200 medley relay, which placed 34th.

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