If you think that Libertyville senior Alex Snarski is a great athlete, it's best not to bring up baseball.
"In travel baseball, I didn't have a hit the whole year," Snarski said. "And I really couldn't throw the ball either."
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It all goes back to that shoulder he was born with. It just may not have translated well in some sports.
Actually, Snarski knows full well how that shoulder helps in one sport.
"Swimming is my sport," he said.
That odd shoulder serves Snarski so very well in swimming. It will take him to Northwestern on a scholarship. On Saturday, it took him to victories in the 200-yard individual medley (1:55.56) and 100 backstroke (50.86). He also took part in two winning relays (200 medley and 400 free), as his Wildcats won the Lake County meet with 271 points.
Home-standing Stevenson (243) was the runner-up, aided by the tandem of Nick Koto and Allen Feng. Third place went to Lake Forest (221.50). Barrington (208.50) was fourth and Highland Park was fifth (138). Mundelein and Warren were sixth and seventh, respectively. The Mustangs (96) edged Warren (95). Vernon Hills (eighth, 52), Zion-Benton (ninth, 24) and Waukegan (10th, 22) followed.
Snarski had no complaints about the meet.
"It's the fastest meet we swim until the sectional," he said.
Snarski's two individual wins and Matt Harrington's victory in the 100 butterfly helped the Wildcats charge ahead. Snarski pointed out how his team picked up some additional points. There was a third-place finish from Mark Boynton in the 200 IM, while Atticus Rush finished sixth in both the 200 IM and the 100 fly.
"That was completely unexpected," Snarski said.
What was not unexpected was Libertyville's championship. This is a team with very high expectations.
"Our goal is to win state," Snarski said.
Harrington placed third at state in the 100 fly last season. The junior is experimenting with a number of races.
"It's early in the season," Harrington said. "So I'm doing a lot of everything."
Harrington wasn't overjoyed with his win in the fly.
"I know I can improve," he said. "And for our team, we are optimistic. We like to say we are hotshots but we are trying to be underdogs. All the stars have to be aligned for us to win state."
Snarski, Harrington, Bobby Snader and Justin Fu won the 200 medley in 1:36.08, while Snarski, Rush, Harrington and Pat King took the 400 free relay in 3:14.58.
Koto brought home Stevenson victories in both the 500 free (4:49.47) and 200 free (1:45.52). And if they offered this junior a chance at the 1,000 or mile, he would jump all over it.
"The 200 is kind of a sprint for me," Koto said. "Last year, I finished 11th at state in the 500. I would like to be top six this year."
Koto would also like to see his school's relay teams do well this year.
"We need to get a relay downstate," he said. "We are trying to show we have depth."
For Stevenson coach Greg Hartman, it was good to see his team make a run at Libertyville.
"I don't think we really got rolling until the end," Hartman said. "Things got better as the meet went on."
Hartman also liked the swims of sophomores Blandon Su and Alex Kapecki.
"Those second and third swimmers give the team confidence," Hartman said.
Stevenson also gained points with Blake Ripes' win in diving (388.25). Lake Forest had help from Symen Ooms, who won the 100 free (48.21) and tied for the top spot in the 50 free (22.10).
Barrington has a freshman to watch in Colin O'Leary. He finished third in the 100 fly (53.55). He also took part in the 200 medley team that took second. He shared that spotlight with Colin Cross, Sam Miseyka and Sebastian Piekarski. The senior Piekarski also shared top honors in the 50 free (22.10). Another freshman, Mitch Gavars, took runner-up honors in the 500 free (4:55.08).
Mundelein's hero on this day was Oakland University-bound Ayrton Kasemets. Named after Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna, the senior admitted he was not the fastest swimmer around.
So at age 13, he found an event that worked for him.
Kasemets breezed to a win in the 100 breaststroke (58.51). He won the race by nearly five seconds.
"It (breaststroke) is so technical," Kasemets said. "It's so complicated. You have to be patient. It takes a lot of drill work."
Kasemets was feeling good after his win.
"We wanted to scare a few people," he said. "I wanted a pool record. This is pretty cool. Now I have a pretty good chance at a state title."
Kasemets also took second in the 200 IM (1:58.78). Mundelein received a second-place finish, as well, from diver Kevin Franz (367.50).
Warren had a fourth-place finish from senior Ashwin Sanzgiri in the 100 free (50.92). Warren also was fifth in the 400 free relay (3:25.43). Sanzgiri joined Garrett Zenner, Tanner Nash and Austin Salisbury in this race.