Welcome to Barrington, Mid-Suburban League competitors.
You were guests one of the finest boys swimming teams in the history of the conference, and more supporting evidence came forth Saturday.
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The host Broncos finished with 273 points to win the MSL championships in workmanlike fashion. Barrington answered challenges to win all three relays, but beyond that their only victory came from Kyle Ujiye in the 100-yard butterfly (50.46).
That oddity is simply due to the overall balance of top-level swimmers in the conference, though. And no one else could come close to matching the completeness of Barrington's lineup.
"With the team we have, our focus this year really has to be on swimming our best at state," said Barrington senior Jack Strauss, who was second in the 200 free and 100 free and anchored the Broncos' freestyle relays. "Our goal for this meet was mainly to be consisent with our times across the board, and I think we pretty much did that."
The most prominent contributors for Barrington were Ujiye and Strauss. Key efforts also came from Sebastian Piekarski, who placed second in the 50 free (22.00) and had legs on all the relays; Chris Vega, who had top-six finishes in the 200 IM and 100 free and a leg on the 400 relay and Sam Miseyka (fourth in the 50 free, third in the 100 breast plus two relay legs). Brother Sean and James Rodney finished 2-3 in the 500 free and each had top-six finishes in other races.
"For us, today was about being mentally strong," said Barrington coach John Valentine. "We were concerned about doing things the right way -- safe relay exchanges, paying attention to detail."
Barrington's collective dominance was complemented by great performances from just about every team in the league.
Fremd senior Andrew King led a terrific day for the Vikings by winning the 50 free in 21.97. Fremd finished second in the team standings at 195, just ahead of third-place Conant (187). Wheeling finished fourth in the 400 free relay to pull out a fourth-place finish ahead of Buffalo Grove (119) and Hersey (115).
"I have to say, I think we surpassed the expectation we had for ourselves at the start of the season," said Fremd coach Kristen Newby. "Everywhere in our lineup today, people were dropping times and really competing."
Senior Dennis Kostidis placed third in the 200 IM and 100 fly, King contributed a fourth-place effort in the 100 free and Fremd's freestyle relays both finished second.
Efforts like Austin Yurasek's in the 100 breaststroke might have made the difference for the Vikes -- he lopped off almost seven seconds from his previous best to finish sixth in 1:04.94.
"That," said Newby, "is a mega-drop."
Conant's top trio of Jonathon Burke, Alex Shozda and Martin Pozniak also excelled. Burke won the 200 and 500 frees, Shozda won the 100 free and 100 back and Pozniak was second in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100 fly.
Burke surprised even himself in the 500, where previous races had yielded disappointing times, probably due to a bout with pneumonia that denied him some early season conditioning. You'd never have guessed on Saturday, as the senior broke the pool record by finishing in 4:33.60.
"Honestly, I'm surprised," said Burke, who finaled in the event in the state meet last season. "It felt easy -- and then at the end, it just felt good to sprint."
"He's just a couple seconds of his lifetime best from last year," said Conant coach Brian Drenth. "I'd say that's a pretty good place to be right now."
Shozda won the 100 free in 47.28 and the 100 back in 52.81, and Burke won the 200 free comfortably in 1:43.13.
Other performances of note on a great day of swimming:
• Buffalo Grove senior Matt Schulstad won the 200 IM in 1:57.80, about 3.5 seconds better than his best this season. He also placed second in the 100 fly in 51.97, breaking the program record. BG coach Jamie Klotz noted season-best times across the board for his team, with just a couple of exceptions.
• Wheeling had bunches of terrific results, notably Jake Noel placing second in the 100 back (54.32) and fourth in the 200 IM (2:01.62), Bryce Maczko making the top six in the 50 and 100 frees and Lukasz Szczepaniec placing fourth in the 500 free with an 8-plus second time drop.
• Prospect junior Nathanael Ginnodo edged Hoffman Estates senior Sang Han to win the 100 breaststroke, 1:01.42 to 1:01.44. Ginnodo was also sixth in the 200 IM (2:05.60).
• Hoffman Estates' Nick Jessee was third in the 100 and 200 frees, and Han was third in the 50 free.
• Jamey Hill placed fifth in the 200 free (1:50.76) and sixth in the 100 back to pace Hersey's effort.
• Palatine had senior Robert Hank crack the top six in the 100 back (5th, 57.45), and freshman Jordan Kalina placed sixth in the 500 free (5:11.86).
• Elk Grove's top effort came from sophomore Colin Williams, who was sixth in the 100 fly (55.42).
• Rolling Meadows sophomore Jake Barson turned in a lifetime-best 1:03.06 to place fourth in the 100 breast. That's faster than his freshman effort at the same meet by more than four seconds. "I think it's a combination of a lot of things," he said. "I think I've improved my stroke a little bit, I'm a little bit stronger . . . I just feel like it's all starting to come together now."