Already tested twice in invitational meet this season, Cary-Grove's boys swimming team tested the dual-meet waters for the first time at Hoffman Estates on Tuesday night.
And found it, too, much to their liking.
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A deep Trojans team led by three-time state qualifier Michael Hamman earned a 115-68 victory against the Hawks, but the story for winning coach Rick Schaefer was how many swimmers not named Michael Hamman distinguished themselves.
Foremost among them was senior Jake Betz, who finished second in the 100-meter free (57.88) and 100 back (1:07.21).
"To me, Jake is probably our swimmer of the meet," said Schaefer. "He really opened some eyes tonight with his swims."
Hamann, meanwhile, was up to his usual level of excellence, winning the 50 free (24.62) and the 100 fly (59.55).
Other individual winners for the Trojans included Adam Eibel (200 IM), Max Hopkins (400 free) and Michael Schaefer (100 back).
Making C-G better than expected in the dual format is the emergence of young, capable swimmers such as Cooper Langanis and Mitch Robak. Langanis placed second in the 400 free, and Robak was third in the 100 breast in times that will earn important points against just about any dual meet foe.
Combined with better results from seniors such as Tyler King, Andrew Brierton and Adam Gaynor, Cary-Grove is looking like a team that will be tough to beat -- in any format.
"We knew coming into this season we'd have a good team," said Schaefer. "Now I'm thinking we might be even better than I thought."
Hoffman Estates certainly had its share of moments. Senior Nick Jessee won the 100 free, the 200 free and anchored Hoffman Estates' winning 400 free relay.
Senior Sang Han was a close second to Hamann in the 50 free; Han later won the 100 breaststroke, then practically got right back in the water to swim his leg of the 400 free relay.
The Hawks are showing they're an improved team from last year, as last week's victory over Hersey in a dual proves. Adam Pasnicki and Bartosz Widelak joined Han and Jessee, the team's co-captains, for the winning relay.
"Right now, our guys are swimming really tired," said first-year Hoffman Estates coach Joe Arce. "We were a little bit 'off' in most of our races, but in general we like what we're seeing."
Wheeling d. Maine West: The Wildcats won all three relays to earn a 103-82 decision in nonconference action in Des Plaines.
Jake Noel won the 100-yard fly (57.79) and 100 back (58.61) and had legs on two relays. Other individual winners for Wheeling were Kyle Noel (200 IM), Lukasz Szczepaniec (50 free) and Bryce Maczko (100 free).
Maine West had a double winner in Brian Wasicak (500 free, 100 breaststroke), and Mike Connor won the 200 free.
Maine South d. Prospect: The host Knights won the 200-yard medley and 400 free relays, but Maine South got 1-2-3 finishes in diving and the 500 free to pull out a 104.5-81.5 victory.
Nathanael Ginnodo had legs on both of Prospect's winning relays and also won the 200 IM (2:07.15) and the 100 breaststroke (1:03.73). Other Knights winners included Andrew Younger in the 100 free (51.46) and Michael Morikado in the 100 fly (1:00.24).