The story isn't the fact that year after year lots of swimmers qualify for state in a Naperville- and Aurora-area sectional. That's pretty much a given.
The story is the quality of performances shown by those athletes. Saturday's Metea Valley sectional was no exception.
Ten of the 12 schools that competed will continue their seasons when the two-day state meet starts Friday at Evanston Township High School.
Naperville Central earned the sectional team title, finishing with 210 points. Neuqua Valley was a close behind in second at 204. Waubonsie Valley was third at 198.
"The boys did a great job," said Naperville Central coach Mike Adams. "The first step was the (DuPage Valley Conference) meet. The second step was this meet. Next week, we'll need to be better. It's another week of rest (at practice) and more work on starts and turns."
The Redhawks qualified all three relays, the 200-yard medley, the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle. Matt King was one of three Naperville Central swimmers to reach state in two individual events.
He dropped almost five seconds off his seed time in the 200 freestyle and almost six seconds in the 500 freestyle. Teammate Sam Flessner sliced off just over nine seconds off his seed time to also qualify in the 500.
"I think it's big to have a teammate swim with you. I did last year (in the 500) and it's great to have it the same this year," King said.
And it's the time of the season where hard practices with a lot of yardage are over and tapering begins.
"I think the key is having a good taper and your teammates cheering you on," Flessner said.
Andrew Dai made state in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly with Brad Sanford doing the same in the 100 butterfly as well and 50 freestyle.
Other Redhawks heading to Evanston are Luke Klein-Collins and Dominic May in the 100 freestyle, Adam Kowalyshen in the 50 freestyle and Ben Russo in the 100 breaststroke.
Like Naperville Central, Neuqua qualifiers in all three relays. Freshman Connor Boyle won the 100 freestyle, Kyri Chen the 50 freestyle and Jack Hiss the 200 freestyle. Hiss also made it in the 500 freestyle.
Also extending their season another week are Sathya Subramanian and Kevin Wu in the 100 butterfly, Rohan Nagori in the 100 breaststroke and John Ruan in the 100 freestyle.
"During practice everyone is tapering for state. I'm really happy hitting state-qualifying time. During practice (this week) I want to focus on the second 50 as I'm trying to finish the race," Ruan said.
With the talent level such as it is, there's no room for everyone in the fast heat. Waubonsie junior Jake Darlinger was in the second-slowest heat with a seed time of 22.88 in the 50 freestyle. After touching the wall at race conclusion, Darlinger saw his time on the scoreboard as 21.86, the exact state-qualifying time.
"It's not even an event I am training for. We are just finished with a half-taper and I'm glad to cut time," he said.
Teammate Brian Daugherty also qualified in the 50 and Darlinger also will compete in the 100 butterfly.
Jared Simpson won the 200 IM and also qualified in the 100 backstroke. Aayush Deshpande was top sectional finisher in the 100 butterfly as was Bryan Ellig in the 100 breaststroke.
Waubonsie qualified all three relays with Lucas Conrads (200 freestyle and 500 freestyle) also a double qualifier, the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.
Metea Valley senior Michael Chan won the 100 backstroke as the Mustangs finished sixth as a team with 135 points.
"Winning is really a boost. I have good confidence and hope to keep it going at state. I have felt really consistent throughout the season. I have tried to hold within a second of the state-qualifying time," Chan said.
The Mustangs are sending to state the 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay and Janssen Gamilla in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly and Sam Kastan in the 50 freestyle.
Naperville North followed Metea in seventh with 131 points. Senior Horace Qiao was a double qualifier in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly. He was also a member of the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays that made it to state.
"With the sectional meet basically about qualifying, I'm pretty happy. I would not consider it my season's best, but I got through it and toughened up. I was not happy with my first two races. The rest of the meet was a lot better," Qiao said.
Also qualifying were Joey Yuan in the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle, Noah Ellis in the 100 backstroke and Josh Tak in the 100 breaststroke.
Benet got two entries through to Evanston. Andrew Prisby made good in the 50 freestyle as did the 200 freestyle relay of Ryan Shanley, Nicholas Tommasone, Ian Smith and Prisby.
Marmion finished fourth in the team standings with 161 points. It won the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relays and also qualified its 400 freestyle relay.
"We swam well today. Our focus next week is we're still working on new relay exchanges called step-over exchanges," said Sam Wehrli, a member of all three relays. He also qualified in the 50 freestyle.
Senior William Kamps qualified in the 200 IM and 500 freestyle. Kamps' seed time and his time in the 500 of 4:38.09 were well below the state-qualifying time.
"The biggest thing is to block out all the distractions and zero in on the race, have a good start and a good finish," Kamps said.
Other Cadets qualifying are Nolan Ferguson in the 100 butterfly and Gary Rockwood and Ty Spilane in the 100 breaststroke.
West Aurora saw Cael McLaren reach state in the 200 IM and Owen Zant in the 100 backstroke.