Chelsea Brewer is in her seventh year at the helm of the Morrison swim team, and she’s eyeing something this Saturday that hasn’t been accomplished in a decade.
The last state qualifier for the Morrison girls was in 2009 (a boy made an appearance in 2015). They’re hoping to change that.
“It’s definitely on all our goal posters,” Brewer said. “It was a goal to send someone from the team to represent this team at state. It’s not a long shot, but a lot of things have to come into play for that.”
Brewer started with six girls seven years ago, and now boasts a team of 15 and is seeing more success than ever.
Still, that size doesn’t even compare to some of the schools the Fillies will be going up against on Saturday at United Township High School, where they will meet their postseason fate. There are no classes when it comes to postseason swimming in Illinois.
They’ll be swimming against competition like Rock Island and United Township High Schools from the Quad Cities, who boast student populations of over 1,600. They even see Peoria Schools, who hold nearly 1,900 students.
Meanwhile Morrison High School regularly is under 300 students. That’s a big difference.
“It’s tough,” Brewer said. “We’re a Class 1A football school. The schools we swim against at sectionals are ginormous. We have some graduating classes of 70 and the same athletes are being pulled into different areas at a school like this.”
Brewer even posted to Facebook Friday, explaining this to the MHS community. Morrison is currently also playing the state quarterfinal game on Saturday in the football playoffs.
Even with the size disparities, Brewer is hopeful. The Fillies have always been a powerhouse thanks to the feeder program, and this year is no exception.
The Fillies won every dual they swam in (Clinton, Freeport), and won two of their three triangular meets.
Not only that, but Morrison took home the title in two invitationals this year, including the Spring Invited at UTHS where they’re swimming on Saturday.
“All of that is a boost,” Brewer said. “It shows us that we’re on the right track.”
They took second at their conference meet as well two weeks ago, moving them to their last two weeks of training and taper.
The way you qualify for state in Illinois is simple: you either get first place in your event or you swim the state qualifying time.
You have to meet one of those two criteria, however, on the day of the sectional meet. It doesn’t matter if you swam the qualifying time during the regular season, it has to be done on Saturday.
“It’s hard when you know that that’s your one shot,” Brewer said. “It’s a lot of how the girls approach it mentally.”
Many of the varsity Fillies have been here before, though, and are bringing that experience with. They’re led by four seniors who have been swimming varsity from freshman year on: Sadie Norman, Sara Norman, Sydney Norman and Gracen Harmon.
“There’s a lot of pressure there, but they’ve done the work,” Brewer said.
What the Fillies excel at are the sprints – short races that are decided by mere tenths of a second. That means everything has to go right at sectionals in order to make the qualifiers list.
“If someone’s start isn’t there or someone’s turn isn’t right it can go to anyone,” Brewer said. “Those are some of the races we’re going after.”
Brewer says she’s a coach that is constantly watching other teams’ times and stats online, scratching and changing her own lineups in order to get the best chances in each race.
She has a couple relays on her radar, along with a few strong individual events.
“Sectionals is more individual in hopes of continuing a postseason,” Brewer said. “Sometimes you have to put an individual in front of the team when it comes down to it.”
But as they stated in their season goals, it’s not necessarily a matter of who when it comes to qualify. Their main goal was to see the blue and red of the Fillies represented on the deck at the state meet in Winnetka when the competition kicks off next week.