Barrington seniors Sam Miseyka and Sebastian Piekarski have been trading off victories and best times all season in one of their strongest races, the 50-yard freestyle.
"It almost seems like we've been going back and forth -- he'll win one, I'll win one," said Miseyka.
On Saturday in the boys swimming sectional at Stevenson, they tried a new approach. This time they shared a victory, touching in 21.55 to tie for top honors in the 50 free in lifetime best efforts for both.
One more thing they shared: A joyous dunking after the meet as Barrington celebrated a sectional championship.
Barrington won the 200 medley and 200 free relays and had plenty more individual state qualifiers in totaling 260 points. Stevenson was close behind (243), with Fremd (169), Palatine (143), Jacobs (109) and Cary-Grove (95) rounding out the top six.
Piekarski later won the 100 free (47.09), and Miseyka won the 100 breast (58.55). Both had legs on the winning 200 medley (1:35.72) and 200 free (1:27.00) relays.
"To go four-for-four in victories at a meet like this is special," said Barrington coach John Valentine. "We're lucky to have a couple of seniors like that."
Plenty of other Broncos followed their lead in earning a chance to compete in next weekend's state meet at Evanston. Senior Connor Kobida made it in the 100 breast, freshman Mitch Gavars advanced in the 500 free and freshman Colin O'Leary delivered in both the 100 back and 100 fly with runner-up finishes for the Mid-Suburban League champs.
If Miseyka wanted to theoretically break his tie with Piekarski in the 50, he'd have strong evidence in the 21.2 leadoff leg he provided on the 200 free relay. Instead, he was giving thanks for having Piekarski as a teammate.
"Sebastian is the hardest worker we have," said Miseyka. "Honestly, I feel like I'm lucky because I get to practice with him."
Luck hasn't exactly been with Stevenson lately, as coach Greg Hartman's team has battled some illness over the last couple of weeks. But the Patriots managed to avoid any big disappointments and still qualified a robust group to state.
Patriots winners included the 400 free relay of Nick Koto, Dimitriy Pelutis, Alex Kapecki and Allen Feng (3:13.59), and Feng in both the 100 back (51.37) and 100 fly (51.15).
Koto and Pelutis both advanced in the 200 and 500 freestyles along with the medley of Feng, Weilly Tong, Viktor Makarskyy and Nathanael Wingfield, and Tong in the 100 breast.
And junior diver Blake Ripes was the class of the field, finishing nearly 100 points ahead of the runner-up score with a sterling 456.25.
"We've had a few health challenges the last couple of weeks, and bottom line, Barrington gave us a little bit more than we could handle today," Hartman said. "But we feel good about how we performed, and we'll look for even better things next weekend."
Tong delivered a lifetime-best 1:00.28 in the breaststroke and finished fifth -- one spot ahead of senior teammate Brad Weinstein (1:01.01).
Fremd had a topsy turvy experience, with some impressive highs, such as the state-qualifying finish from the 200 free relay of Roshan Rajan, Connor Helsdingen, Austin Yurasek and Michael Chemello (1:27.47). But near-misses in the 400 free relay and several individual races made it less than completely satisfying for the Vikings.
"Part of it is that we're such a young team, so we've got swimmers who need to go through this," said Fremd coach Kristen Newby. "And part of it is that we need to learn more about how to coach these younger guys, so a day like today will really help with that."
Palatine will be represented at state by freshman Alex Bartosik, who won the 200 IM in 1:57.93. The Pirates had a near miss to state in the 400 free relay, and Bartosik also came close in the 100 breaststroke. But Palatine enjoyed stellar times across the board with top-12 individual efforts from Jacob Baran, Jordan Kalina, Arnas Maciunas, Adam Smith, Oleksiy Korniychuk and Marcus Carter-Buckman.
"Nothing at all to be disappointed about today," said Palatine coach Kyle Sorensen. "We had great swims, season-bests in everything."
Rolling Meadows junior Jake Barson lowered his own school record in the 100 breaststroke, finishing second in 58.97 and earning his first trip to the state meet. He's hopeful that a faster performance there could scored some top-12 points, but either way, he's fully enjoying the ride.
"Already this season, I'm doing times I didn't think I'd ever do in my life," he said.
And not only in the breaststroke. Barson also placed fifth in the 200 IM, finishing in 2:00.37 and making state qualification in a second individual event next season a very real possibility.
Jacobs senior Alex Reinbrecht has been focused on producing his top performances at state, but he was more than up for the sectional challenge, too.
Now a three-time state qualifier, Reinbrecht cruised to victories in both the 200 free (1:41.84) and 500 free (4:37.24).
He's hoping having closer races, along with a little bit more rest, will lead to even better times at Evanston.
"The 200 felt good," said Reinbrecht, "but not the 500 -- I felt tight the whole way, and then I pretty much missed my 13th turn, then scrambled to try to make up for that.
"But that's OK. My time in the 500 today was faster than was I did at sectional last year, and I know I've got a better one in me."
Reinbrecht will have company on deck at Evanston, too, as Jacobs sophomore Francis Ogaban finished third in the 100 backstroke in a state-qualifying 53.68.
"He's maybe 5-foot-8," said Jacobs coach Rick Andresen of Ogaban, "but he can really kick."
Cary-Grove senior Adam Eibel provided a feel-good moment near the meet's end, when, in his last opportunity to qualify for state in an individual event, he did so.
Eibel, a team captain, placed third in 59.98.
"I'm just really happy for him," said Cary-Grove coach Rick Schaefer. "He's worked so hard for this. So to not only make state, but also get under a minute for the first time ... he deserved it."
Schaumburg senior divers Mat Sigler and Adam Maslowski finished in the 2-3 spots and have a chance to earn at-large state meet berths. Sigler, the MSL champ, finished at 357.25, and Maslowski at 336.45.
Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates didn't figure prominently in the scoring, but both had moments of triumph.
Hawks junior Bartosz Widelak finished fifth in the 50 free at 22.41, while Schaumburg's Michael Walsh dropped tons of time in both the 200 (1:51.77) and 500 freestyles (5:06.45, a season-best by nearly 20 seconds).
"Honestly, I was thinking maybe 1:54 in the 200," said Walsh.
But first-year Schaumburg coach Paul Desruisseaux had a sneaking suspicion good things might be in store.
"We looked at the times from his end of the season last year," explained the coach of his senior captain, "so we knew he was kind of a taper monster."