Boys swimming: St. Charles North shines on 'chaotic' day at Stevenson

Different was the indisputable norm at Saturday afternoon's Patriot boys swimming and diving relays at Stevenson.

Quartets swam odd distances of 600 and 350 yards. Medley relays lasted 400, not 200, yards. The PA announcer uttered the elegant word "crescendo" to describe some races at the 16-team, 40-event (40!) meet. And class relays required the deployment of a boy from each of the high-school classes (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior).

Add a glitch - the scoreboard was on the fritz all afternoon - to the mix and you had yourself quite an eventful day in Lincolnshire.

"Chaos, total chaos," said St. Charles North coach Rob Rooney, who appeared thrilled to be a part of the season-opening invite. "You learn on the fly at a meet like this. It's all relays, all energy. What I look for first here is enthusiasm. Then I look for finishing races the right way, hoping to see our guys attack the last 12-and-a-half to 15 yards.

'You can't settle in at a meet like this," he added. "This meet keeps you on your toes."

Give his North Stars a hand. Or 11. They won that many races and topped the Green division with 233 points; reigning state runner-up New Trier tallied 225 points to win the Gold division. Host Stevenson - third at state last winter - fielded a pair of teams and finished fifth (109 points) and second (217 points) in the Green and Gold pools, respectively.

"Fun meet, with a lot of variety, with some bizarre races," Patriots coach Doug Lillydahl said in the first hour. "We get to see New Trier; New Trier gets to see us."

What all witnessed at the end of the highly competitive sophomore 400 free relay (Gold): Stevenson anchor Kyler Chou edging New Trier anchor Ethan Kim for runner-up honors. The Pats' crew clocked a 3:24.45 to the Trevians' 3:25.10 (Lyons Township's entrant had sped to a first-place 3:24.09).

"I didn't want to take it out too fast," said Chou, who caught up to Kim at the 75-yard mark of his leg. "I wanted to have enough left for my second 50."

The Stevenson trio of Timothy Rhee, Maxim Kolbunov and Finn Schneider won the 600 free Gold race in 5:36.43, and Patriots Colin Zhang, Joshua Wang and Sirui Wang combined for a time of 3:35.03 to easily triumph in the 350 breaststroke relay Gold event.

Stevenson junior Felix Wang joined Zhang and Diego Rosario-Freytes to bronze in the 350 butterfly relay Gold (3:27.57). Felix Wang collaborated with Rhee, Sirui Wang and senior Liam Plautz for third place in the 400 medley relay Gold (3:38.21).

"Sixty-percent fun, 40 percent competitive," Felix Wang said, breaking down the makeup of the meet. "I'm glad strong teams, especially New Trier, were here. Coach Lillydahl makes sure we're all aware of the importance of the team aspect of swimming and diving. Team-first - that's what the Stevenson swimming and diving program always stresses."

St. Charles North's club won the first swimming event of the afternoon by a mile. Make that a marathon. Landyn Kruse, Collin Beu, Thomas McMillan and Beck Lincoln zipped to a 1:45.65 in the freshman 200 medley relay Green. The runner-up unit's time was 2:00.11.

That same SCN foursome also won comfortably in the Green division's freshman 400 free relay (3:42.13).

Other North Stars champions included Brady Nightlinger, Matt Stratton, William Deutmeyer, Walker Hornstrom, Francesco Alongi and James Shimon.

Not too many swimmers can say they won two 50 free races in one day. But Deutmeyer can. The junior water dart churned to a 22.63 to win the 50 free Green race and then topped the 50 free varsity race in 21.97. Call him "The Can-Deut, Can-Deut Kid."

Sandburg (202 points) and Libertyville (197) went 2-3 in the Green division. Libertyville's Max Shores, Luke Buciero and Shreyas Moorthy beat the 600 free Green field with a time of 6:04.76.

"We've been in the water only two weeks," Wildcats coach Greg Herman said. "You see a lot of front-end speed at this meet because it's early in the season. The ability to finish is a little shaky.

"Today our guys learned they're more talented than they thought they were."

Sam Piazza and George Leidolf paced Palatine's fourth-place showing (183 points) in the Green division. Each swam on the victorious sophomore 200 medley (1:57.03) and sophomore 400 free (3:44.67) relays, joining Adam Adame and Jaxon VanderGiessen and Colten Hilgers and Kyle Carlson, respectively.

Fremd (fourth place, Gold division) received a championship effort from its 350 back relay unit of Tyler Franke, Marcus Witkowski and Jaden Heinlein (3:13.72).

"It's certainly a different meet," said fifth-year Fremd coach Andrew Adams, a 2009 Rolling Meadows graduate whose staff includes 2015 Wheeling graduate Theresa Knowles (seventh at state in the 100 backstroke in 2014). "I like that there are events for freshmen and others for sophomores."

Cary Grove finished in sixth place (137 points), only 1 point behind fifth-place Whitney Young, in the Gold division. Coach Scott Lattyak's sturdy contingent of Connor Chan, Kasparas Venslauskas and Drew Watson took second in the 350 breaststroke relay (3:45.73).

"Great personalities, great leaders," Lattyak said of his 2023-24 edition, which is also packed with A-one IMers.

Plainfield co-op senior Neo Zonys touched first in the Gold division's 50 free (22.3).

Diving results were not available.

  Fremd's Braeden Newby competes in the 400 relay. Brian Hill/
  Cary-Grove's Drew Watson in the 400 Yard Medley Relay during the Patriot Relays Saturday December 2, 2023 in Lincolnshire. Brian Hill/
  Stevenson's Felix Wang swims in the 400-yard medley relay during the Patriot Relays Saturday in Lincolnshire. Brian Hill/
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