Boys swimming: Scouting the Mid-Suburban League meet
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Boys swimming and diving: Scouting the MSL meet
Where: Prospect High School
When: Saturday - diving at 9 a.m., swimming at 1 p.m.
Deep thoughts: This is the first opportunity for Dist. 214 to showcase one of its excellent new aquatic facilities in the varsity conference meet. The general consensus is that the deep water at both Prospect and Buffalo Grove lends itself to smooth water and fast times. True enough, the pool doesn't do the swimming -- but the conference has plenty of fine athletes to take care of that part of the bargain. Expect just about every pool record to be broken, and likely to remain in place for quite a while as the MSL meet continues to move around the league following many years of being anchored at Barrington.
Team talk: Barrington, Fremd, Hersey, Rolling Meadows and Prospect have enough individual and relay strength to jostle for the top spots. Of that group, Barrington and Fremd have a clear advantage with three relays seeded right at the top and plenty of top-notch individual entrants, including diving. Neither quite fits the usual profile of an MSL title-contending team, as both rely heavily on non-seniors. Fremd is the defending conference champ and edged Barrington in their dual meet to win the MSL West a couple of weeks ago, but the Vikes' lineup has been forced into some revisions since then, while Barrington has continued to improve and has the top seed in all three relays (by narrow margins). The bottom line is that the team championship will likely come down to these two teams, and it's very much up for grabs.
Mid-Suburban East champ Hersey and Rolling Meadows both have great scoring opportunities in two relays, plus a senior standout with a chance to win two individual events. And Prospect has just enough lineup balance and developing swimmers to join the pack of top teams.
Let's bounce: Fremd senior Zach Mega and Hersey junior Nick Nocita have been the conference's top diving performers, regularly scoring in the upper 200s with their six-dive list. Kyle Jones and Caleb Savoy give Conant an elite 1-2 punch, and Barrington's Steven Latimer, Buffalo Grove's Ben Goldberg, Prospect's Aaron and Aiden Busiel and Fremd's Christian Zukowski are among the competitors who figure to battle it out for top-six finishes.
Top guns: Here are the top seeds in each race.
200 medley relay: Barrington 1:38.35
200 free: Jack Hoppe (Barrington) 1:47.81
200 IM: Michael Petro (Hersey) 1:55.69
50 free: Josh Dellorto (Rolling Meadows) 21.62
100 fly: Petro (Hersey) 50.76
100 free: Dellorto (Rolling Meadows) 47.26
500 free: Daniel Langlois (Barrington) 4:56.90
200 free relay: Barrington 1:30.20
100 back: Evan Stegall (Fremd) 54.47
100 breast: Alex Schillinger (Fremd) 1:00.17
400 free relay: Barrington 3:19.83.
Senior moments: Making their final appearance in the conference meet is a terrific group of distinguished athletes.
Hersey's Michael Petro is the defending MSL champ in both the 200 IM and 100 fly, along with being the pool record-holder in both those races. He's the top seed in both and also among the top competitors in the state; teammate Josh Irvine will race in the final heat of the 200 free and 100 fly.
Fremd's Alex Schillinger is defending champ in the 100 breaststroke and a state point-scorer last season in that race. He also excels in the 200 IM. Teammate Danny Konishi is in the top six in the 100 free and will take three relays legs.
Rolling Meadows' Josh Dellorto hasn't yet won an individual event at the MSL meet but has emerged as the conference's best sprint freestyler, with top seeds in both the 50 and 100 free. He's also a state point-scorer from last season. The Mustangs also have Andrew Tavares in the last heat of the 200 IM, and Jake Pors and Nate Pardini on a couple of strong relays.
Schaumburg's Matt Soltau is in the final heat of both the 50 and 100 freestyles; likewise for teammate Tyler Reynolds in both the 200 and 500 free.
Hoffman Estates' Mark Heitkotter has top-six seeds in both the 50 and 100 freestyles, and Elk Grove's Mike Kulpa is in the final heat of the 100 free.
Palatine's Sean O'Brien has top-six seeds in both the 100 back and 100 free, and Jake Klein is in the last heat of 200 free.
Prospect's Jake Kosinski and Wheeling's Nick Konstantos, both state qualifiers last season, are in the final heat of the 100 breaststroke.
Junior achievement: Conant's Justin Lim is among the top competitors in both the 100 fly and 50 free, and Barrington has Steven Fischer in the 50 free and 100 back and Liam Rorison in the 200 free. Fremd's Yoochan Lee is in the fastest heat of both the 50 free and 100 fly, likewise for Buffalo Grove's Daniel Verdico in the 200 free and 100 breast. Hersey's Jack Blumenfeld is seeded top-six in the 100 free.
Youth movement: The last heat of the 500 free features only one upperclassmen, Schaumburg's Tyler Reynolds. The rest are freshman Daniel Langlois and sophomore Dan Emary of Barrington, sophomore Gavin Hill of Hersey, freshman Kevin Soltys of Prospect and sophomore Stefan Filip of Palatine. Similarly, in the 100 back, it's Palatine senior Sean O'Brien, Barrington junior Steven Fischer and Emary -- plus three freshmen, Evan Stegall (Fremd), Lukas Slifierz (Rolling Meadows) and Soltys. Other underclassmen with top-six seeds include Conant sophomore Dylan Pokorny in the 100 breast, Fremd's Stegall in the 100 fly and a nice grouping from Barrington -- sophomore Aiden Roth and Langlois in the 200 IM, sophomore Jack Hoppe in the 200 free and 100 breast and sophomore Shawn Ujiiye in the 100 fly.
See you in a couple weeks: Next weekend, the MSL teams will be split between two state-qualifying sectional sites. Headed to Deerfield are Hersey, Elk Grove, Prospect, Rolling Meadows and Wheeling. The rest of the league will compete at Stevenson. Those fast enough to advance will reconvene for the state meet Feb. 23 and 24 at Evanston.
-- Aaron Gabriel