On a night when both Elk Grove and Rolling Meadows were chasing a host of team records in boys swimming, a diver stole the show.
Elk Grove senior Joe Kraemer is among the Mid-Suburban League's elite divers and seems to be getting better each time out. He hit 253.35 on Friday as the Grenadiers and Mustangs met in the pool at Elk Grove both teams share.
Rolling Meadows got the better of the swimming events and earned a 108-75 victory as a pair of improving teams continued to make steady gains while completing their MSL duel seasons.
Elk Grove senior Krystian Szczepaniak won the 200-yard IM (2:06.23) and took second in the 100 breast (1:04.28), while junior teammate Colin Williams had decisive wins in the 200 free (1:52.81) and 100 fly (52.88).
"By the end the year, we might have as many as nine new records up there," said Elk Grove coach Keith Kura, pointing to the school record board.
What's making all that possible is the addition of freestyle depth to the Grenadiers' lineup. Their top 400 free relay has been 3:26 already, and on Friday, the foursome of Szczepaniak, Chris Doruff, Alex Pauls and Colin Williams won the 200 free relay in 1:32.92.
"At the beginning of the year, I was thinking I might -- might -- have four guys for a really good relay," Kura said. "Now I've got five, maybe five and half guys who can make a difference for us."
For a competitor like Williams, that team improvement is a bonus. He's got his sights set on qualifying for the state meet, an achievement which narrowly eluded him last season.
"My motivation was to make the state meet this year, no matter what," Williams said. "I mean, I wanted to get that cut in the first meet of the year if possible."
Rolling Meadows also has some state meet candidates, including junior Jake Barson. He was second in the 200 IM in a lifetime-best 2:08.80 on Friday and was just off a career best in winning the 100 breaststroke in 1:01.68.
Sophomore sprinter Kuba Debkowski and freshman Filip Pancerz are among the developing swimmers making a big difference for the Mustangs.
Debkowski won both the 50 (22.99) and the 100 free (51.87), and Pancerz won the 100 back (1:00.71). Their steady improvement and a much deeper team has made Rolling Meadows' season a pleasure for coach Monika Chiappetta.
Among the best times for the Mustangs was a 59.82 in the 100 fly from Tony Sarussi.
In a sport where there's a lot of emphasis on individual improvement, Rolling Meadows is savoring a heightened sense of team achievement as the Mustangs finished 2-3 against MSL East competition.
"Our team is just like a big family," Barson said. "I know everybody says that, but in our case it's really true. We're a family."
Back to Kraemer for a moment: it hasn't exactly been a smooth season for him.
A bruised eardrum kept him out of the water for some three weeks of the season around the holiday break. So he's only resumed practice for the last three weeks.
Both Kraemer and diving coach Tom Strzewski are just hoping to see a smooth completion to what's already been a remarkable season.
And maybe another special achievement or two along the way.
"I'd like to get our 11-dive record, too," said Kraemer, "and hopefully go to state."
Palatine d. Schaumburg: On senior night at Palatine, senior captain Michael Myszka won the 200-meter IM (2:31.34) and 100 fly (1:08.19) and also had a pair of winning relay legs as the Pirates prevailed 93.5-85.5.
Freshman Arnas Maciunas also provided a pair of wins, in the 200 free (2:09.44) and 400 free (4:34.08), as Palatine finished 3-2 in MSL West duels.
Tyler Gustafson and Daniel Skiroock gave Schaumburg a lift with a 1-2 finish in the 100 free.
Wheeling d. Buffalo Grove: The host Wildcats earned a 97-89 decision over the Bison to complete a 3-2 record against MSL East foes.
Wheeling's Nate Reiff won the 200 IM (2:08.50), the 100 breast (1:04.95) and had legs on the winning 200 medley relay (1:43.92) and 200 free relay (1:33.64). The Wildcats' Bryce Maczko won the 50 free (23.08) and 100 free (50.95).