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updated: 12/3/2012 10:43 PM

Scouting DuPage County boys swimming

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  • Sam Hiller of Naperville North gets ready to jump from the block during the 200-yard freestyle relay at the boys state swimming finals at Evanston High School Saturday.

      Sam Hiller of Naperville North gets ready to jump from the block during the 200-yard freestyle relay at the boys state swimming finals at Evanston High School Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

By Neil Shalin
Daily Herald Correspondent

Top teams: Hinsdale Central, Naperville Central, Naperville North, Waubonsie Valley, Wheaton co-op.

Top swimmers and divers: Addison Trail/Willowbrook Co-op: Nicky Zito, sr.; Benet: Stephen Spittler, jr.; Downers Grove South: Ryan Kujawa (diver), sr.; Alec Masterson, sr., Michael Tegeler, sr.; Hinsdale Central: Eddie Mapel, sr., Ryan O'Donnell, sr, Will Leach, sr., Brian Portland, so., Connor Schroyer, sr.; Alex Cruz, sr.; Hinsdale South: Ryan O'Toole, sr.; Lake Park: Sean Gregor, jr.; Jacob Vance, sr.; Jack Reily (diver) jr.; Metea Valley: Alex Gidlow, sr.; Matt Salerno, so.; Jordan O'Brien, so.; Peter Rodriguez (diver) sr.; Naperville Central: Connor Lamb, jr., Noah Wood, sr., Joe Gucwa (diver) jr.; Naperville North: Sam Hiller, sr.; Eric Curia, sr., Garrett Nash, jr.; John Moosemiller, sr. ; Neuqua Valley: Drew Dvorchak, jr., Alex Thoele, sr,; Jerry Wu, sr, Brian Dupuy, John Widuch, so.; Waubonsie Valley: Adam Stacklin, sr, Michael McWhirter, sr. Bailey York, jr., Stephen Ernst, sr.; Nathan Morris, so.; Wheaton Academy: Brendan Hawley, jr.; Wheaton co-op: Tommy Reminger, jr.; J.T. Simoneau, sr.

Outlook: It was the end of an era for Naperville North. The team that's been led by the now-graduated Nick Bessner, Kevin Butz and Andrew Eiken. David Healy and Tom Hubbard finished second at state, after placing in the top10 the two years before. But Hiller and Curia are eager to carry on the winning tradition and begin the new age of Huskies swimming. "Sam and Eric are there for the leadership," coach Andy McWhirter said. "And they'll both place again at state. If the rest of the team can make progress, and we think they can, we can make it back to the top 10."

Naperville Central, which finished 11th in the state's team standings, also lost some top performers, including Sean Lehane and Nate Weeks. But the Redhawks are expected to be right there to battle the Huskies for DuPage Valley Conference supremacy again. Lamb and Wood are the veterans who should have outstanding years, and there are a lot of younger swimmers who are expected to develop. "We'll be an interesting team to watch," said Redhawks coach Mike Adams. "Our numbers are up, and the competition for spots will be fierce." Both Naperville teams will again have something to say at the state meet.

A team that could challenge in the DVC is Wheaton co-op, which made it into the top 20 last year and graduated only one swimmer and a pair of superb divers. Reminger and Simoneau made it to state and they lead a contingent of young guys that is on the brink of doing something special. "Our numbers are up and we have all the guns," said Wheaton coach Jacob Ayers. "Our boys team has never won conference, but this year we have a shot."

Last season was a step on the comeback trail for Waubonsie Valley, a former power at state. But this year the Warriors could arrive big-time. Stacklin is the leader. He was injured all of last year and still finished seventh in the 100 freestyle. He's a great all-around swimmer and this year he's healthy. He should be one of the best in Illinois. McWhirter and York, both great athletes, return with Stacklin from the 200 free relay that finished eighth at state and they should both have breakout years. Freshmen Michael Schwers and Tag Lohman are outstanding freshmen, and diver Alex Zdravev just missed making the state cut. "We're looking to keep going up this year," said Warriors coach Nick Arens. "We should be competitive at every level."

Neuqua Valley, which won state in 2008, is a perennial top-10 team. But the Wildcats were a little off last year as the next generation of Wildcats developed. Dvorchak, a state qualifier in the fly and the IM, has been impressing everyone at practice. Wu, Thele, Dupuy and Widuch also figure prominently on the resurgent Wildcats. "Our freshman and sophomore classes are solid," Allen said. "We're hoping to have a lot of qualifiers, get all three relays in and then step up to score in a few events."

The biggest competition in conference will come from Metea Valley, which qualified nine swimmers for state in only its third year of varsity competition. The top returners include backstroker Gidlow, and Salerno, who can do anything, and is a name to remember for the future. "We have a great core of experienced swimmers," said coach Mark Jager. "We have tremendous potential and we should be in the mix for conference."

Lake Park's Gregor, Vance and Reily all got a taste of what it's like at state, and they're hoping that experience will inspire their mates. "We have huge numbers this year," coach Dan Witteveen said. "With the development of some of our next tier of swimmers, we could make some noise."

Downers Grove South's Kujawa finished fourth at state in diving and the Mustangs are pointing to a fourth straight year as conference champions or co-champs. "Many of our top swimmers are going all year-around now," coach Bryan Szweda said. "We have a lot of youth and you'll see marked improvement this year. But we should be very good in the future."

And that brings us to the team that could be the best in DuPage, Hinsdale Central, which finished fourth at state. But the big graduation loss was the best swimmer in Illinois, Danny Thomson, the state champion in both the 200 and 500 free. But the Red Devils still have a large group of state qualifiers who give coach Corky King a lot of great options on relays and potential scorers in individual events. "We have no superstars this time around," King said. "But we still have the capability of finishing in the top 10. We're going to work hard, have fun and let the chips fall where they may."

Important Dates: Dec. 8: West Chicago Relays; Dec. 15: Downers Grove South Invitational; Neuqua Valley Invitational; Dec. 22: Naperville North College Events; Dec. 27: Waubonsie Valley AquaPentathlon; Jan. 4: Naperville North at Naperville Central: Jan.11 Neuqua Valley at Naperville North; Jan.12: Hinsdale Central Diving; Jan.26: Metea Valley Mustang Invite: Feb. 1-2: Conference Meets; Feb. 15-16: Sectionals; Feb. 22-23: State Meet at New Trier.

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