EAST MOLINE — It was a record-breaking day for the Moline girls at Saturday’s United Township Sectional swim meet. Although Dunlap took home its seventh-straight sectional title, the runner-up Maroons set multiple bests and qualified for state in four events for the first time since 2005, the last year they won a sectional title and qualified six state entries.
Dunlap tallied a 296 to Moline’s 244.5. Leading the other local teams was Morrison (167) in third, followed by Rock Island (114.5) in sixth and United Township (27) in 10th. Monmouth-Roseville’s individuals tallied five points.
Two of Moline’s seniors, Gabbi Lopez and Taylor Puglisi, notched lifetime bests in their final sectional meets. Lopez, who finished strong down the stretch to out-touch a packed field in the 100-yard butterfly, won in 59.80 to qualify for state for the first time.
She was the first Maroon to clock that time in almost 20 years, breaking Amy Roller’s 59.98 school record set in 2000.
“I was so excited,” Lopez said of her first time breaking a minute. “I’ve worked so hard to get to a 59, and I’m so glad that I finally achieved it. It’s just an amazing feeling.”
She said she’s had the school record on her mind the past couple years, but especially this season. To have her name replace a 19-year-old record was a satisfying result after falling short the last couple years.
“To be so close for so long, and then to finally do it, it just feels really good,” said Lopez, who was runner-up in the 200 individual medley. “I’m glad my hard work has paid off.”
Puglisi started the day by shattering Moline’s 11-dive record by scoring a 483.15. That also broke her own pool record from earlier this season, and surpassed a 452 meet record set by Newman’s Mary Sue LeMay in 2008.
“Today, I was pretty spot on with all my dives. I didn’t have any of them that were off really,” said Puglisi, now a third-time state qualifier after breaking Katherine Douglas’ 2016 school mark of 433.90. “It’s such a great way to finish my senior season. I couldn’t ask for a better way to finish. I broke all the records I wanted to beat, and I’m very happy with what I’ve done.”
She said it was a matter of making smaller improvements across the board and nailing her easier dives. She scored three nines on her reverse dive pike. Just five divers in the state posted a better 11-dive total on Saturday than Puglisi’s 483.15.
Moline’s Dylan Shrake (302.40) was fourth in diving. Moline's Joel Delp was named Sectional Diving Coach of the Year for the second year in a row following the meet.
Moline’s sophomore standout Sophie Greko qualified for state in both the 200 free and 500 free, breaking the meet record in the former event with a 1:54.60. That time bested Ashton Amerman’s 1:55.48 for Peoria Notre Dame last year.
“It feels really good,” said Greko, who was Moline’s first state qualifier in a swimming event since Allison Patch in 2012 (100 backstroke). “It was a really cool experience.”
Her 5:10 in the 500 broke Olivia White’s previous school record by over four seconds. White (5:18.16) finished in third a lane over. Greko said it was bittersweet to break her friend’s record, but she was proud of her performance.
“She’s always pushed me in practice, along with our coaches,” Greko said. “She’s always been right there pacing me and it’s been really helpful the whole season.”.
“If anyone was going to break my record, I would want it to be her,” said White, who’s trained with Greko in the offseason. “So I can’t be upset about that.”
White led a ferocious comeback with a lifetime best split in the final event of the day, the 400 free relay, but Moline (3:38.25) fell just short to winner Dunlap (3:38.21).
“I gave it my all, so I can’t be too upset,” said the senior, who was third in the 200 free. “I’m upset that I never made it to state, but obviously it wasn’t meant to be, so it’s OK.”
Moline’s 200 free relay (1:41.45) was runner-up to Dunlap (1:41.08) as Clara Van Note paired with Lopez, Greko, and White. Mimi Trenary was third in the 100 breaststroke for Moline.
"For the most part, everyone swam season bests or lifetime bests," Moline coach Michael Roche said. "Just a couple unfortunate races, and that happens. I'm proud of the girls."
Rock Island’s own sophomore standout, Olivia Sholl, won the 100 breast by over 2½ seconds to qualify for state. It was the third year in a row the Rocks won the event.
“It feels really good,” said Sholl, who was third in the 200 IM. “It’s been my goal this entire season to go to state, and it felt good to go best time as well.”
Morrison was looking for its first state qualifier in a decade, but fell just short despite its overall success as a team. Sadie Norman, Kate Henson, Sydney Norman, and Sara Norman broke the school record in the 200 medley relay with a 1:53.78 in the first swimming event of the day. The time bested a 2001 mark of 1:55.14 by Carlie Schoaf, Rachel Fedyk, Megan Fedyk, and Emily Seaman.
Morrison dropped almost three seconds in the relay, but Dunlap dropped five. The Fillies took third in the 200 free relay.
“We met all the goals that we set for this season as a team, except for one, and that was qualifying a swimmer for state,” said Morrison coach Chelsea Brewer. “Even having a top seed in an event, it’s anybody's ballgame.”
Schyon Drolema was third in the 100 free for Morrison.
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