Conant serves notice with decisive victory
Conant sophomore Martin Pozniak heads for a win the 100-meter butterfly on Friday against visiting Fremd.
Photo by Paul Reeff
Conant boys swimming coach Brian Drenth knew around this time last year that the future was very bright for his program.
Well, the future is now, with a 124.5-61.5 victory over visiting Fremd on Friday in a Mid-Suburban West dual as proof positive.
•Conant won every event.
•Conant placed first and third in all three relays.
•The Cougars finished 1-2 in three events, 1-3 in four events and delivered a 1-2-3 sweep in the 100-meter breaststroke.
And all of this against a Fremd program that's traditionally one of the strongest teams in the area.
"We remembered how close our dual with Fremd was last year," said Conant senior Brandon Grzegorek, who took part in the breaststroke sweep, "and we just wanted to make sure it wasn't that way this year."
Conant is doing it with big contributions for the sophomore, junior and senior classes, and with a kind of depth that has Drenth thinking this might end up being the best team in the history of Conant swimming.
The Cougars won a divisional championship two years ago; they'll face a tough West test in a dual meet at Barrington on Jan. 13 but should go unchallenged in the remainder of the division duals.
Conant's last overall Mid-Suburban League championship came in 2000. Winning it this year isn't out of the question, but regardless, Conant has big plans for beyond, at sectional weekend and the state championships.
Drenth took a group of 11 to last year's state meet and hopes to see that number swell this year — and score significant team points in the meet as well.
"Last year, for us, it was about getting that state experience," he said. "That was key. This year, with where our guys are with their times, we can project out a little bit and really aim for trying to get in the top 12 and score points."
Against Fremd, Conant's top swimmers excelled. Junior Jonathan Burke won the 100 and 200 freestyles; sophomore Martin Pozniak won the 200 IM and 100 fly; junior Matt Nagorzanski won the 400 free and 100 breaststroke; sophomore Alex Shozda won the 50 free and took second in the 50 free.
Senior John Maevski won diving with 212.40, and teammate Bartek Turek was second at 164.20.
"This is certainly the deepest team we've had since I've been here," said Grzegorek, who says he's become more focused in practices as a senior. "We have a very competitive group of guys, and you can see that's helping everybody improve.
"Everybody's excited. We think we can really have a special season."
Fremd coach Kristen Newby was pleased with the races from sophomore Michael Chemello, who placed third in the 100 backstroke and handled the anchor leg of the 400 freestyle relay.
But there was no denying that the outcome was not to Fremd's liking, even for a young but capable team.
Asked to characterize her team's mood after the meet, Newby smiled and said: "We're working on it."
Buffalo Grove d. Elk Grove: Ian Rodriguez and Matt Schulstad both won a pair of individual races to help the visiting Bison past the Grens 118-67. Elk Grove had a double winner in Marek Burtan (50 free, 100 free).
Barrington d. Palatine: Chris Vega, Jack Strauss, Kyle Ujiye and Connor Kobida each won a pair of races to help the host Broncos past the Pirates 136-49.
Schaumburg d. Hoffman Estates: The Saxons won two of three relays and earned a 2-3 finished in the meet-ending 400 free relay to preserve a 95-91 win over the visiting Hawks.
Erik Heitman won the 200 IM and 100 backstroke for Schaumburg, and Sang W. Han and Nick Jessee had two individual wins apiece for the Hawks.
Prospect d. Wheeling: Nathanael Ginnodo won the 200 IM and 100 breastroke, and the Knights won the medley and 400 free relays to beat Wheeling 107-78. Bryce Maczko was a double winner for the Wildcats (100 and 200 freestyles).
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