Mundeleins Black shatters butterfly national record
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The easy part was over for Mundelein senior Connor Black.
He's already set state records in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly during the Friday prelim session of the 82nd boys state swimming and diving championships at New Trier. That meant all that was left for the Stanford-bound Black was winning the state title in both races.
Simply winning? Not unique enough for a swimmer of this caliber.
In his final high school race, Black took command of the 100 butterfly event in the final 50 yards. As his margin over two-time defending state champion and Northwestern-bound Loyola senior Andrew Jovanovic widened, the only question remaining was, how fast could Black go?
The answer came in a deafening roar from the sold-out New Trier Natatorium crowd. A staggering 46.71 appeared on the clock, clinching the state title and another state record.
But that wasn't the only record to fall. Black's time is the fastest ever by a public school swimmer in U.S. history, breaking the mark of 47.08 set in 2009 by Sean Fletcher of Madison, Va.
Two state titles, two state records and a national record — all in a weekend's work for Black.
"I get to take this suit off and just watch now," Black said afterward. "I knew I could do it so I wasn't all that surprised. But I . . . I don't know. I am just really glad I did it."
Black became just the second Mundelein boys swimmer to win a state title and the first to take home two in one meet. His 19.95 clocking in the finals of the 50 freestyle earned Black his first state title of the day and made him just the second swimmer to go under 20 seconds in a state meet twice on the same weekend.
"You kind of think back to everything you have done during the season and how it all came to this," Black said. "It's a really good feeling that I was able to do it."
The host Trevians earned their third straight title and fourth in five years by amassing 189 points. Hinsdale Central finished a distant second (96) followed by Lake Forest which finished third with 93 points.
Just out of the team trophy race was Libertyville. The Wildcats finished fourth overall for their highest finish in school history, and leading the way were junior Alex Snarski and sophomore Matt Harrington.
Snarski and Harrington teamed with Atticus Rush and Justin Fu to finish fifth in the 200 medley relay (1:34.71). Harrington proceeded to earn his first individual medal with a fifth-place effort in the 50 freestyle (21.05). Then Harrington and Snarski went at it in the electric final of the 100 butterfly.
Both Wildcats have been long time training partners with Black, but that still didn't slow their chase. Snarski finished sixth overall in 50.21 while Harrington earned his second medal with a third-place finish in a quick 49.07.
"After the race I got a little excited, and maybe a little too excited, but this really does mean a lot to me," Harrington said. "It was interesting to race with Connor there, because he is just another guy to us. But we all saw something like this coming. It's such a spectacular feat for him and I am so proud of him."
Snarski had one more shot at an individual title and he nearly pulled it off with a second-place finish to Jovanovic in the 100 backstroke (49.98).
"The time for me (in that race) doesn't even matter," Snarski said. "Second place, I don't even know what to say. It's just an awesome feeling."
Snarski, Fu, Rush and Harrington closed out the season by winning the consolation heat of the 400 freestyle relay in a very quick 3:07.87.
While the Wildcats were jumping for joy, Stevenson senior James Lichtenstein is used to that sort of thing. A world elite silver medalist in the trampoline, the Notre Dame-bound Lichtenstein applied a similar skill set to the diving boards and proceeded to jump up one spot in the finals.
Lichtenstein finished with 412.75 points, finishing third overall.
"I had some higher difficulty dives today and you never know if you are going to hit them, but I hit them today," Lichtenstein said. "I feel like I did everything in high school that I could possibly do, so this is a good way to end it."
Along with Lichtenstein, the Patriots earned a 10th-place finish from Blake Ripes in diving, an 11th-place finish from Nick Koto in the 500 freestyle and a 10th-place finish from Allen Feng in the 100 backstroke.
Warren senior and North Carolina-bound Matt Conway closed out his high school career with three more medals. Conway raced to a third-place effort in the 200 freestyle, breaking his own school record in 1:38.56. His second individual medal came in the 100 butterfly, where he placed fourth in 49.13.
Conway closed out his afternoon with teammates Ashwin Sanzgiri, Austin Salisbury, and Garrett Zenner to finish 12th in the 400 freestyle relay (3:10.27).
Lakes senior Kyle Aerne knew the pressure was off in the finals of the 100 breastroke and swam the kind of race he had hoped for. A great start ended up in a solid overall race for the Eastern Michigan-bound Aerne. As he touched the wall, his 56.34 clocking was good for second place.
"I think with all the pressure of being the top seed, I kind of let that get to me yesterday," Aerne said. "I just came out much more relaxed and swam my kind of race today."
Other medalists from Saturday's finals included junior Ayrten Kasemets of Mundelein who moved up to eighth in the 100 breaststroke (58.00), and senior Alex Zuniga of Vernon Hills, who finished ninth in diving with 393.80 points.
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