Swimmers missed Thursday's boys swimming meet at Olympic Pool in Arlington Heights for a variety of reasons -- illness, injury, even coach's decision.
That didn't lessen the intensity as the remaining Buffalo Grove and Hersey swimmers and divers battled it out in a matchup of two teams harboring hopes of winning the Mid-Suburban East Divisional title at season's end.
The defending divisional champion Bison ended up taking a big step toward that goal with a 100-86 victory.
Getting there wasn't easy, though, and required some mid-meet lineup maneuvering on the part of BG coach Jamie Klotz. Seeing an opportunity to score points in the 500 free, Klotz asked if anyone on his team would be willing to give the longest event in the meet a try.
"Zach Augustyn stepped up, and he'd never done the event before," said Klotz. "And he got in there and did a great job."
Augustyn, buoyed by the cheering of teammates practically right above him as he raced in an end lane, placed third. That was key in giving the Bison and 2-3-5 finish, along with a mental lift heading into the final third of the meet.
The outcome was decided mainly by third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishes because many of the top swimmers for each team effectively negated one another.
BG senior standout Matt Schulstad won the 200 free (1:52.22) and the 100 breast (1:04.73).
Hersey's Jamey Hill cruised to a win in the 500 free, placed second in the 200 and had legs on the winning 400 free and second-place 200 medley relays. His teammate, Samuel Kim, won both the 50 free (23.76) and the 100 free (50.64) and was on the winning 200 free and 400 free relays.
Tilting the balance BG's way were the efforts of junior Brandon Hausfeld, who won the 100 fly (58.04) and later led a 1-2 finish with teammate KC Lotzer in the 100 backstroke. Schulstad and Matt Perek followed suit with a 1-2 in the 100 breaststroke to effectively decide the outcome.
"As a team, we really made a decision to try to have more guys involved in swimming throughout the year," said Schulstad, a state qualifier last season. "Not just seniors; we have guys throughout the team now that have been with Alligator Aquatics, or PPD or another team, and it makes a difference. Like Brandon Hausfeld -- he really works at it. That kid's an animal in practice."
Hersey's standout diving group gave the Huskies a 1-2 finish as Mat Obstoj (230.05) and Daniel Obyrtacz (152.55) led the way. But Jack Kintzle was limited by injury for the meet, and that may have helped BG's Brian Froelicher, Varraruk Oleksonder and Josh Opperman move up a spot or two as they finished 3-4-5.
Hersey coach Dick Mortensen was limited in his post-meet comments, due to the effects of a respiratory virus that seems to be making the rounds.
"We're calling it black lung, and I'm not the only one fighting it," he croaked, gesturing to his swimmers. "We were without four swimmers today, and I like to think things might have been different if we'd had everybody.
"But the story today is BG. Jamey does a great job with his kids."