By Matt Le Cren
For the Enterprise
WINNETKA – High school swimming is so competitive in Illinois that some girls go on to swim at Division I colleges without ever earning an individual medal at the state meet.
Plainfield co-op senior Kate Meunier could have been one of them.
Meunier, however, exceeded her expectations at the state meet Nov. 18 at New Trier High School, advancing to the finals for the first time to earn win her first medal.
Meunier finished 10th during the preliminary round of the 200-yard individual medley, advancing to the consolation heat. She finished 12th in the finals with a time of 2:06.67.
“It was really fun,” Meunier said. “It was hard, but it was fun.
“Yesterday my main goal was just to make today, so I wasn’t sure. I was kind of glad to be here. I wasn’t aiming for anything (in particular), just have fun.”
Meunier, who will swim at Colorado State, where she plans to major in fish and conservation biology, is the third state medalist in program history and the first in the 200 I.M., which is considered the toughest event because it requires proficiency in all four strokes.
“(Being a medalist) is fantastic,” Meunier said. “I just feel great. Its 12th so it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it really is a big deal to me.”
And it was a big deal for Plainfield, which is slowly but surely producing sustained success.
Meunier is the fourth Division I swimmer to come out of the program.
“It’s huge,” Plainfield coach George Sam said. “She got to state four years. For her to medal, that’s great.”
This state meet marked a new pinnacle of achievement for Plainfield, which had multiple state medalists for the first time.
In addition to Meunier, sophomores Jessica Davis and Kali Franckowiak scored points in the 200-yard freestyle and the 400 free relay team became the first relay in program history to score points.
Two years after Carly Kramer, who won the 100 butterfly to become Plainfield’s first state champion, the team finally has some depth.
“It’s definitely a team now.; it’s not so much just Carly,” Sam said. “There’s a group of them and they are a great corps of kids.
“They are team by all definitions of the word. They laugh together, they cry together, they pick each other up. It’s fun to watch.”
Davis, who became the first freestyle medalist when she took eighth in the 100 as a freshman, repeated that finish in a time of 51.55. She also was eighth in the 200 in 1:50.80, two spots higher than Franckowiak, who timed 1:52.57.
Before this year, Plainfield had never sent two individuals in the same event to state. Now they have two medalists in the 200 and they also qualified two in the 500 free, as Franckowiak took 17th in 5:06.23 and junior Kellynn Hayes was 20th in 5:07.94 in prelims.
Franckowiak, Davis, Meunier and Hayes teamed up to close the meet by taking ninth in the 400 free relay in 3:29.60.
“I think (the program) is only getting stronger from here,” Meunier said. “I think with Jess and Cali they are definitely going to get better.
“They will be in the final heat (next year). They are both amazing people and amazing swimmers, so they will definitely really help the team in the future.”
In other results, Meunier placed 21st in the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.35 and sophomore Samantha Kershner was 35th in the 100 butterfly in 58.25.