In its final invitational of the season, Barrington's boys swim team visited the entry-rich meet organized by St. Charles North. Six individual entries were allowed per event and three relay entries were allowed per team, meaning each team had a chance to arrange or rearrange its lineup as it saw fit.
The Broncos thrived in the format, claiming a 252-206 victory in the eight-team meet over the second-placed hosts.
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"It's an interesting meet," Barrington coach John Valentine said. "They allow all these kids to enter, which gives everybody a swim. At the same time, they only score the top two or three in each individual race and only the top relay. So while depth carried the day for Barrington, it also exposed some of our weaknesses."
Another feature of the meet is the range of teams involved. University High came from Normal and downstate Peoria Notre Dame and Champaign Central were also in a field that included Byron and Rockford Boylan and Libertyville. That field was fast, as five meet records fell.
"The diversity of competition in this meet is somewhat unique," Valentine said. "It's one of the reasons why we enjoy coming here."
Barrington won the meet despite only having one individual race winner -- Kyle Ujiye won the 100-yard butterfly in 51.57.
"This is a really big meet for us," Ujiye said. "It's our last invitational before conference and sectionals. The guys are really tired. We still practice 10 times a week. Winning this meet means a lot to me, especially being a captain and a senior. It's more emotional than when I was a sophomore and we won this meet."
The Broncos also won the 200 freestyle relay with a team of Sam Miseyka, Sebastian Piekarski, Ujiye and Jack Strauss.
"In previous years, we've had a couple of swimmers who carried the team," Ujiye said. "With six entries per event, you've got to have those thirds and fourths. In the backstroke, we went third, fourth, sixth and seventh."
Those backstroke swimmers were Ujiye, Brandon Baranowski, Nicholas Cogswell and Nathan Bosse. With so many entries, Barrington was able to shift its lineup and give swimmers a chance to compete in events they wouldn't normally swim.
Things will shift somewhat now. The Broncos have a dual meet with Mid-Suburban League rival Fremd and then begin preparing for the MSL meet, which begins the sequence of February postseason meets.
"That's when our depth is really going to show, when we have our two top kids in every event," Ujiye said. "It's obviously going to be really hard to cup some of these guys from the lineup, but I think we're going to have a really good team this year, as far as championships goes."
To illustrate how race wins didn't mean much in the overall results, Byron won four races -- yet finished seventh.
"We're winning ugly now," Valentine said. "We're not winning a lot of first places in individual events, but we are carrying second and third and sixth, and in a meet like this, that really helps."
Time is limited for a swimmer to step forward and impress the coaching staff before the postseason, but the Broncos know they are preparing for meets in their home pool.
"We're hosting sectionals and conference at Barrington this year, which will be a big boost for our team," Valentine said. "Our focus last year was on getting kids in the finals at the state meet. Now our focus is on getting more quality swims on Saturday. Last year, we were just happy to be there. We hadn't been there on Saturday in awhile. We are hoping to get a couple of relays and some individuals through to Saturday. That will show the kind of progress we're having."