Boys swimming and diving state meet
Where: New Trier
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Friday: Diving prelims start at 9 a.m.; swimming prelims start at 3:30 p.m.
Saturday: Swimming and diving finals begin at 1 p.m.
There's every reason to think coach Mark Onstott and New Trier will win their fourth state title in the last five years and enjoy a celebratory post-meet splash in their own pool. Specifically, those reasons are standouts such as Reed Malone (200, 500 free), Jack Mangan (100 free, 100 back), Jae Park (breaststroke, IM), and enough depth to make all three relays formidable. The Trevs have two entrants in every individual race except the 100 back. Other top teams figure to be Lake Forest with senior distance standout Peter Grumhaus and Loyola with senior flyer/backstroke Andrew Jovanovic.
Area programs have produced an impressive array of seniors with a chance to do some real scoring damage in this year's meet. Conant's Jonathon Burke is the only returning finalist, having placed fifth in the 500 free last season. But a whole bunch of other from the Mid-Suburban League have terrific opportunities to dent the scoreboard this time around.
Barrington's Kyle Ujiye and Jack Strauss have been focused on getting the best possible team result out of this weekend's festivities, and they can enhance that eventuality by scoring points in their individual races.
Hoffman Estates' Nick Jessee and San Han are both back at state for repeat scoring attempts; both came close last season in their best races.
Maine West's Brian Wasicak is also producing some senior magic at season's end and is in great position to swim again in Saturday's action.
Fremd's Dennis Kostidis and Andrew King would need lifetime bests to make the top 12, but as coach Kristen Newby has pointed out, their strength lends itself to a long taper and faster times for them aren't out of the question.
Senior Matt Schulstad's leadership helped Buffalo Grove to a Mid-Suburban East title this year, but this weekend, it's all about him. Schulstad will race in the 100 fly.
Barrington has its best state-level team arguably in the history of the program. Coach John Valentine has assembled three relays with an opportunity to score points, individual scoring threats in Jack Strauss (100 and 200 free) and Kyle Ujiye (100 fly). Juniors Sebastian Piekarski, Sam Miseyka, Brandon Baranowski, Connor Kobida and senior Chris Vega will also contribute to the effort. It's tough to predict how far they can take the Broncos, but this team has been focused on scoring points on the last day of the season, and it's a battle-tested group.
Conant is led by senior Jonathon Burke, who is the top seed in the 500 free and the sixth seed in the 200 free. The Cougars have two more double qualifiers in juniors Martin Pozniak (200 IM, 100 fly) and Alex Shozda (100 back, 100 free) as well as both freestyle relays.
Hoffman Estates senior Nick Jessee is the No. 2 seed in the 200 freestyle and the No. 6 seed in the 100 free after winning both races at the Barrington sectional. Hawks senior Sang Han will also race twice, in the 100 breaststroke and the 50 free. Coach Joey Arce seems to have both state meet veterans ready to perform.
Fremd seniors Dennis Kostidis and Andrew King wrap up stellar high school careers with two individual races and two freestyle relays apiece. Kostidis has the 200 free and 100 fly; King has the 50 and 100 free. Joining them on the relays are Michael Chemello, Luke Stark and Connor Helsdingen.
Buffalo Grove senior Matt Schulstad has been steady all year and will put his full effort into the 100 fly.
Maine West senior Brian Wasicak is poised for his best state meet performance after making it the previous two seasons. He has the eighth-fastest qualifying time in the 100 breaststroke and the ninth-best in the 200 IM.
Wheeling got breakthrough swims from junior Bryce Maczko (100 free) and freshman Jake Noel (100 back) at the sectional. They'll test the state meet waters for the first time.
Prospect junior Nathanael Ginnodo earned a first chance to compete at the state meet; he's in the 100 breaststroke.
Hersey's medley relay of Jamey Hill, Michael Buffa, Samuel Kim and Connor Reynolds qualified by winning its sectional at Glenbrook North.
Diving right in
Hersey's Mat Obstoj excelled at the sectional, and coach Tom Schwab is looking forward to seeing the standout finish his Huskies career in style. Obstoj earned first-place finishes in every dual meet this season and won the Mid-Suburban League title. He finished fourth at the diving-rich Glenbrook North sectional with a score of 407.10; that puts him about in the middle of the at-large qualifying scores. "Mat's years as a team captain and outstanding leader have been nothing short of pure excellence," said Schwab. "He has improved year after year to where he now has the winning edge."
-- Aaron Gabriel