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Daily Journal
     October 21, 2020      #74-295 KDJ
 

GIRLS SWIMMING: Kankakee swims past Thornton,

By Cody Smith
csmith@daily-journal.com


KANKAKEE — Tuesday’s swim meet between Kankakee and Thornton featured many highlights for the Kays, but none were more impactful than the team camaraderie that was displayed throughout the entire meet.

Being that it was Kankakee’s senior night, the Kays varsity swimmers would typically race their best events in front of their friends and family. However, they opted to swim different events to allow its non-varsity swimmers a chance to show what they could do.

“I thought what was awesome is that our seniors set themselves aside by not doing their best events in front of their parents,” Kankakee head coach Scott Teeters said. “So the younger kids could have a place and by doing so they validated how important the younger kids are, but they have done that all year. That’s what builds legacy and I thought that tonight was a quantum leap into the future for us.”

Despite not putting its most talented swimmers in certain events the Kays still managed to dominate Thornton, 81-32, which resulted in the perfect ending for its talented core of seniors.

“It felt cool to be celebrated by my team and family because I just started swimming and I worked really hard so for everyone to be so supported it made me feel good about myself,” senior Liliana Mendez said. “It made me feel like all my hard work paid off.”

The closest race between schools came in the 50-yard freestyle event. Mendez secured her first-ever varsity win with a time of 34.67 seconds, which was good enough to edge out Carmen Valadez of Thornton who finished second in 35.89 seconds.

“I just thought since this was my last meet I wanted to try as hard as I could,” Mendez said. “So that’s what I did and I ended up getting first place.”

Another race that was a huge moral boost for the Kays came in the 500-yard freestyle event. And that’s because Kankakee sophomore Makyiah Gibbs took home the first-place medal with a time of 8 minutes and 21 seconds, despite it being the first time she’s participated in such an event.

“We swam a lot of young kids against Thornton’s best kids and we beat them,” Teeters said. “I know Thornton is rebuilding, but our kids are really taking what they learned in practice and applied it to their competition and that’s good.”

Out of the 16 events, Kankakee managed to win six of seven events where both the Kays and Thornton had swimmers participate in. In addition to Mendez and Gibbs, Waverly Martinez, Nora Juranich, Patricia Lopez and Summer Olshefski all secured victories for the Kays in various events.

Martinez won the 200-yard individual medley (2:52), Juranich took home the 100-yard butterfly (1:14), Lopez secured the first-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke (1:24) and Olshefski added a win in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:24).

“What stood out to me tonight was how much progress our young kids have made,” Teeters said. “I can’t believe how good they looked. What stood out most of all is how far we’ve come with our newbies.”

UP NEXT

The Kays will head to Lockport this weekend for the IHSA Lockport Regional at 1 p.m.

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