November 20th, 2018 12:00 PM
Senior Natalie Ungaretti will graduate from OPRF as one of the best swimmers in school history. (Submitted photo)
By Marty Farmer
It's official. The Oak Park and River Forest Huskies' loss is the Tennessee Volunteers' gain.
OPRF senior swimmer Natalie Ungaretti, who has committed to UT, closed out her remarkable high school swimming career with a pair of fourth-place finishes at the 2018 IHSA Swimming & Diving Championships, hosted by Evanston High School on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Ungaretti placed fourth in both the 50-yard freestyle (23.09 seconds) and 100-yard freestyle (50.50 seconds). She accounted for all 22 points for OPRF, which came in 15th place in the team standings.
"I'm happy with how I did," Ungaretti said. "I'm so proud of the team and all of my friends who swam so well."
The Huskies also had a pair of relay teams compete at state. The 200-yard freestyle quartet of junior Sara Segal, freshman Teagan Osga, senior Emma Wojack and Ungaretti recorded a time of 1 minute, 37.68 seconds to earn 21st during Friday's preliminary races. In the 400-yard freestyle prelims, the same group came in 19th at 3:35.43.
Ungaretti has a history of excellence at the state finals.
During her sophomore year, Ungaretti and the Huskies turned in a historic showing in 2016. She became only the third OPRF girl (joining Kate Wendt and Marissa Lumkes) to win an individual state title when she captured the 50 free with a time of 23.31 at Evanston. Ungaretti also was runner-up in the 100 free (50.90).
In the relays at that state meet, Ungaretti teamed with Hanna Blankemeier, Alex Gill and Samm Neilson in the 200-yard medley, posting a time of 1:43.94 to become just the third relay team in program history to win a championship. Ungaretti also anchored the Huskies' 200 free relay, which notched fifth (1:35.94) in the state.
Ungaretti recorded her fastest times at state as a junior. She finished third in the 50 free (23.06) and fourth in the 100 free (50.34) in a pair of exceptionally fast races.
About a third of the way through her senior year, only memories remain now for Ungaretti — at least in the pool.
"It's hard to believe that it's over," she said. "I feel like just yesterday I was going to my first tryouts as a freshman. One thing I've learned is how to be part of a team that supports each other. I don't think I would ever have been able to find the success I've had the past four years without my teammates by my side."
Her next challenge is to make a splash in football mad Southeastern Conference country.
"I am beyond excited," Ungaretti said about Tennessee. "I know it's going to be an amazing time with great coaches and a supportive team."