By Mark Gregory
WINNETKA – After four splits of the Plainfield District 202 schools, the athletic record books have come full circle – sort of.
Thirty years after Ben Bates became the first individual state champion in Plainfield history, winning the 200-yard individual medley at the boys’ state swim meet, Carly Kramer posted a time of 54.53 and claimed IHSA gold in the 100-yard butterfly, winning the first-ever state title for a Plainfield North athlete and the first-ever title for a district female swimmer.
“It is really an honor. I worked really hard for this,” Kramer said, fighting back tears of elation. “It has all been building to this. (When I finished) I didn’t look at the clock. I looked at my coach first because I knew if he was jumping up and down I had done it. I saw him celebrating and I knew then I did it, then I saw the clock and I was faster (than preliminaries) and I didn’t expect that. I was really a cool feeling.
“It is the perfect story. I don’t know how I will beat this in college.”
After committing to swim at Arizona State University, Kramer said her goal of winning the title was not as strong as it was until last weekend’s sectional meet.
“After I signed with ASU, I thought ‘whatever happens, happens’ because I was already signed for college,” she said. “Then sectionals came and I saw how my time was without tapering and without the (speed) suit. When I saw how fast my time was, I knew I could I do it. That was the first time I knew it.”
Even though Kramer was confident she could win the state title, she still had doubts she would be successful.
“I was a little iffy all day because last year I came in third and finished fifth because I finished a second slower. I was nervous it would happen again this year,” she said. “But then I had warm-ups and I got behind the blocks and I knew I wasn’t going to let it get away this time.”
Kramer and Bates have more in common than just being the first champion to walk their school’s hallways.
When Bates won, Plainfield Athletics Director Chuck Harris said he was happy see a student-athlete like Bates had the success he had.
Saturday, North AD Ron Lear had the same glowing words about Kramer, saying she was the perfect athlete to be the first Tiger champion.
Kramer’s coach, George Sam, echoed the words of his boss.
“I am so proud of her. This is four years of hard work. She got everything she deserved. She put the work in and there isn’t a nicer kid that could have won it,” Sam said. “She has done a ton. There isn’t a person that isn’t proud of what she has done. We talked all year about unfinished business and when she got to the blocks, we told her to finish it. And she made a statement.”
When Bates won his title, District 202 did not have a swim team in Plainfield, as he won as an individual swimmer and there was no pool in the high school.
Now, during Kramer’s title run, the four schools have one combo team, but still no pool in the district.
“I really wanted to motivate all the younger swimmers. I was really privileged to have a great team over the years that knew the odds were against us,” Kramer said. “I am grateful that I had the opportunity to swim for Plainfield and I am convinced I wouldn’t be this far along if I didn’t swim for Plainfield.”
In Friday’s preliminary round, the Plainfield foursome of Kramer, junior Shaw Barney, sophomore Kate Meunier and freshman Veronica Banas placed 18th in the 200 medley relay finals with a time of 1 minute, 48.03.
“The team’s goal was just to get here,” Sam said. “(Carly) has led them and she did a great job. She is moving on and they now have experience.”
Barney edged her teammate Meunier in the 200 IM, finishing with times of 2:10.96 and 2:10.99, respectively.
Meunier had a time of 1:08.2 in the 100 breaststroke.
The 200 free relay team had a time of 1:40.7, while the 400 free relay squad swam in 3:41.02.