The defending Mid-Suburban East boys swimming champion passed its first test under new leadership, as Tim O'Hagan made his first meet as the program's head coach a successful one.
The Bison topped host Hoffman Estates 113.75 as all the MSL schools competed in matchups with teams from the opposite division on Friday.
Things will get a little more serious, and little less experimental, when the East and West teams are competing against one another and vying for divisional titles.
The Bison plan to be ready for that, despite the fact that at the moment they are a team without a pool. Their home waters are undergoing an extensive renovation all season and won't be ready until sometime this summer, so Buffalo Grove is sharing time at fellow Dist. 214 schools such as Elk Grove and Wheeling.
"We knew it would be an issue this year, so at the end of last year, we kind of warned everybody," said O'Hagan. "We said, 'You need to show up for team ready to go.' "
The Bison were ready on Friday. While Hoffman Estates was competitive across the board and won plenty of races, the Hawks couldn't match the depth of BG through the second and third swimmers.
KC Lotzer and Chris Schulstad gave the Bison a lift with a 1-2 finish in the 400-meter freestyle, with Schulstad winning a last-lap sprint.
Lotzer also won the 100 back, holding off a charge from Hoffman Estates' Jacob Pasaye. Other Bison winners included Zach Augustyn in the 100 free, Ryan Lawson in the 100 breast, Brandon Hausfeld in the 100 fly and the 400 free relay of Hausfeld, Lotzer, Mark Poirier and Augustyn.
"The East is going to be tough this year, but I think that almost helps focus our guys on that goal," said O'Hagan. "We've won it something like nine of the last 13 years, so that's always going to be where we're aiming."
Friday's meet was also a success for Hoffman Estates. The Hawks won the medley relay and got individual victories from Andrew Hobar (200 free), Jacob Pasaye (200 IM), and Bartosz Widelak (50 free).
Coach Joe Arce's team is young and will be outnumbered by many of its MSL foes this season. But it's also clear that Hoffman Estates will be competitive with their top swimmer against almost any MSL school.
"The nice thing for us is that when you're kind of in a rebuilding phase like we are, you're trying to get back to where you left off the previous season as quickly as you can," said Arce. "We really did that today, pretty much across the board."
Arce used the effort of Bartosz Widelak as an example. A member of Hoffman Estates' team record-setting 200- and 400- freestyle relays last season, he turned in a time faster than he produced all of last season in winning the 50-meter free in 26.30.
And the future looks bright, too, as Hoffman Estates won handily at the frosh-soph level -- something that happened only once all last season.
Palatine 113, Hersey 73: Sophomore Jordan Kalina won the 200- and 400-meter freestyles and also anchored the winning 200 free relay as host Palatine started its dual meet season with a victory over the Huskies.
Other winners for the Pirates were sophomore Marcus Carter-Buckman (200 IM), junior Jacob Baran (100 free), junior Dylan Wilken (diving) and freshman Alex Bartosik (100 breast).
Hersey had the winning medley relay and got individual wins from Connor Reynolds (50 free), Paul Kim (100 fly) and David Kuntz (100 back).
Prospect 132, Conant 54: The visiting Knights produced a big effort at Conant, using 1-2 finishes in both the 200-meter medley and 200 free relays to start their season with a decisive victory.
In individual events, the Knights got 1-2-3 finishes in the 200 free (Alex Jarosz, Nick Partipilo, Michael Morikado) and the 400 free (Jack Gabriel, Alex Jarosz, Alex Morikado) and 1-2 finishes in the 100 fly, 100 free, and 100 breast.
Barrington 134, Elk Grove 49: The defending MSL champion Broncos started with a victory over the visiting Grenadiers.
Barrington won all three relays and got victories from Mitch Gavars (200 IM and 500 free), Sam Miseyka (50 free), Andrew Fish (100 fly), Nick Cogswell (100 free, 100 back).
Elk Grove's Joseph Kraemer won diving with a nice score of 214.85, and Grens junior Colin Williams won the 200-yard free (1:52.21).
Fremd 96, Wheeling 66: The Vikings used an edge in depth to produce a victory at Wheeling.
The Wildcats had double winners in Bryce Maczko (200 free, 100 free) and Jake Noel (200 IM, 100 back).
But the Vikes placed 1-3 in the medley and 200 free relays and had individual winners in the 50 free (Connor Helsdingen), 100 fly (Dylan Assmann) and 500 free (Nick Seroni).
Rolling Meadows 110, Schaumburg 76: The visiting Mustangs showed they're for real with a decisive win at Schaumburg.
Jake Barson, Filip Pancerz and Kuba Debkowski each won twice and had legs on two winning relays for Meadows, which also got a victory from David Myers in the 400-meter free.
For Schaumburg, Tyler Gustafson won the 200 free (2:11.69) and placed second in the 100 free, and divers Adam Maslowski (195.25) and Matt Sigler (190.05) finished 1-2.