At Saturdays 34th Olympic Invitational, the host Hersey Huskies appeared headed to their best finish since a second place in 1990.
But the Conant Cougars stole their thunder, adding a first-place finish to their resume that already includes two invite runners-up and an unblemished dual-meet record in boys swimming.
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"A lot of guys stepped up today," said Conant coach Brian Drenth.
Before the meet, a Conant swimmer left because of illness - and other Cougars had to fill the void.
One was John Burke.
"Burke dropped 15 seconds off his 500-yard time," Drenth said. "That is huge. Anton Andonov stepped up in the long distance races. Hes more of a sprinter. This is a solid group."
The Cougars took first in the 200-medley relay, the 200-free relay and the 400-free relay.
Cougars co-captain Ryan Chiero finished first in the 200-IM, 100-free and was the anchor on the 400- and 200-free relays.
"We were hoping for good times from everyone," Cheiro said. "We've had complaints about this pool in the past, but not tonight."
The Cougars face another big challenge Friday against Fremd, when a Conant victory would seal first place in the Mid-Suburban League West Division.
"We expect to walk into any competition and compete with the best," Drenth said. "Against Fremd, all of us need to do our best."
Hersey was also missing swimmers Saturday after a big win Friday night over Buffalo Grove.
"We may have been tired from last night," said Huskies coach Dick Mortensen. "And we had kids missing, but kids didn't step up."
The Huskies finished a point behind second-place Deerfield.
Huskies 14-year-old freshman Jeff Ruffin, whose mom, Mary, is in her first year as St. Viator's coach, tied for first in the 200-free with Jacobs/Dundee-Crown's Ryan Krug. Ruffin added a first in the 500-free and sawm a leg on the winning frosh/soph 200-free relay.
"He's a great kid and only a freshman," Mortensen said.
"Jeff works hard," Mary Ruffin said. "He had a rough start (to the season) because he was sick, but he has worked hard for many years."
St. Viator posted some of its best times of the season and finished fifth.
"They know were in it for the long run," Mary Ruffin said. "We're getting more medals, team spirit is up and, most importantly, they believe in themselves."
For Jacobs-Dundee-Crown coach Rick Andresen, it was just one of those days.
"We didn't swim well," Andresen said. "I think we were tired. They've been practicing hard and maybe that's why. But we were nowhere near our seed times."
Other top finishers included Jacobs/Dundee-Crown's Alex Elston (first in the 100-fly) and Krug (second in the 100-free). Conant's Palmer Lynch won the 50-free and David Wollschlager was first in the 100-back.