As Barrington honored its boys swimming and diving seniors in a dual meet featuring two of the Mid-Suburban League's top teams on Friday, you got the sense it was a special night.
The fourth-year seniors and their parents got their moment in the limelight after the 500-yard freestyle -- and then the athletes went to back to work for the meet's final four events.
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And it was one nice piece work by the Broncos.
Barrington just missed a pool record in the 200 free relay, winning in 1:26.92 with juniors Sam Miseyka and Sebastian Piekarski and seniors Kyle Ujiye and Jack Strauss.
In the meet-ending 400 free relay, senior Chris Vega joined Ujiye, Piekarski and Strauss in a pool record-breaking 3:12.55.
Barrington met its stiffest challenge in a dual this season, topping the defending Mid-Suburban League champs 115-73. A victory next Friday against Fremd would finish a perfect Broncos run through the West.
"Coach (John Valentine) sat us down and explained what was at stake," said Vega, "and I thought that really brought it out in us tonight. He was telling us that this is the meet that sets the stage for conference, sectional and state, and tonight would really let us know where we stood."
Barrington is standing tall, especially after weathering some elite performances from Conant -- which features a superb senior of its own, as Jonathon Burke won the 200 free (1:44.87, in a great race with Strauss) and the 500 free (4:44.69).
Cougars junior Alex Shozda also looked sharp in winning the 100 free (47.97, again in a great race with Strauss) and the 100 backstroke (54.87), and Martin Pozniak excelled in winning the 200 IM (2:01.62).
In spite of the outcome, Conant coach Brian Drenth was pleased with how the meet went -- especially since it was the first time this season he's been able to field his full lineup. Illness has cycled through his roster, so although it was a disappointing result, it was also a victory of sorts.
"I'm not going to say we're pleased with the result," he said, "but it's one we can live with. We needed to answer some questions for ourselves, and I think we did a pretty good job of it. I was telling our guys, it comes down to 'Who wants it more?' You swim Barrington, you know you're going to get some races, and our guys met the challenge."
Yet against Barrington's ultra-deep dual lineup, it still wasn't enough for a win.
That's because in addition to returning state meet qualifiers such as Ujiye, Strauss and Piekarski, the Broncos have had new faces step forward throughout the lineup.
Colin Cross won the 100 breast in 1:04.40, leading a 1-2-3 Broncos sweep in the event.
In the 500, brothers Sean and James Rodney finished 2-3 behind Burke.
In the backstroke, Nick Cogswell, Nathan Bosse and Brandon Baranowski placed 2-3-4 behind Shozda.
Perhaps most telling of all was the medley relay, where Barrington's lead relay of Bosse, Connor Kobida, Ujiye and Piekarski led a 1-2-3 sweep.
Factor in that senior leadership from competitors such as James Rodney, Evan Lee and diver J.P. Sherry, and it's easy to see why Barrington has high hopes for the championship phase of the season.
"It's a matter of how much we want it," said Vega, who produced a lifetime best in taking second in the 200 IM (2:02.03). "We can't let it rest of someone else to get the job done. Everyone needs to do their part to make it happen."
Prospect d. Hersey: The Knights kept alive their chance at a Mid-Suburban East title by edging visiting Hersey 94-92.
Both Prospect and Buffalo Grove have gone 4-0 against MSL East teams; they compete next Friday at Wheeling to decide the division winner.
Against Hersey, Nathanael Ginnodo led a 1-2-3 Prospect sweep in the 200 IM and also won the 100 breastroke.
The Huskies got a 1-2-3 sweep in diving with Mat Obstoj winning with a terrific 257.15. Double winners for Hersey were Samuel Kim (50 free, 100 fly) and Jamey Hill (500 free, 100 back).
BG d. Wheeling: The host Bison maintained an unblemished record in the MSL East by topping Wheeling 105-80.
Matt Schulstad won a pair of races (200 IM, 100 fly) and BG won the medley and 400 free relays.
Kyle Noel was a double winner (200 free, 100 breast) for Wheeling and had a leg on the winning 200 free relay with Bryce Maczko, Jake Noel and Lukasz Szczepaniec.
Maine West d. Maine East: Mike Connor led the way with victories in the 200 free (1:50.29) and 100 fly (54.47) to help the host Warriors in a 102-61 decision.
Palatine d. Schaumburg: Christian Kalfas and Robert Hank won a pair of races apiece, and the visiting Pirates also had winners in Jacob Baran (200 free), Marcus Carter-Buckmann (200 IM) and Jordan Kalina (400 free) in a 112-74 victory.
Adam Kobiela (100 breast) and Dylan Rust (diving) won individual events for the Saxons.
Rolling Meadows d. Elk Grove: Kuba Debkowski won the 50 free and 100 free, Matt Crigler won diving (216.20) and Jake Barson produced a career-best in winning the 100 breaststroke (1:03.72) as Rolling Meadows claimed a 104-82 victory in the pool shared by both programs.
Colin Williams (200 free, 100 free) was a double winner for the Grens.