Take-charge effort from Stevenson in NSC meet
There were some new swimmers on the scene, but the results had a familiar ring to them.
Tapering is in full effect and the bleach blondes were out in force, which means the state series looms starting with sectionals next weekend.
On Saturday, though, it was about supremacy in the North Suburban Conference, and Stevenson ruled at Vernon Hills. The Patriots won five out of 12 events to take the crown with 377 points, comfortably ahead of runner-up Libertyville (230) and third-place Lake Forest (218). Round Lake, Lakes and Wauconda also entered swimmers.
Sophomore Daniel Ng was one of the standouts for Stevenson, as he picked up three first-place medals, despite not being tapered. The top-12 finishers in each event received medals, with the top six being recognized as all-conference.
Stevenson set the tone early. Ng swam the first leg of the winning 200-yard medley relay team (1:40.15) that also included Alan Fang, Nick Baginski and Alex Kapecki. As anchor, Ng edged out Libertyville's Sean Coughlin to help Stevenson win the 400 freestyle relay (3:15.27), which also included Baginski, Topher Stensby and John Roh.
"We have so much depth on our team and that's really helped us all year," said Ng, who also picked up a victory in the 200 individual medley with a personal-best 1:57. 86. "I just try and swim well for myself, my parents, my team, my school -- everyone pretty much. Having fun is also a big part of it."
Other winners for Stevenson included Baginski in the 100 butterfly (52.82) and William Jiang in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.33).
Libertyville's Eric Turner won the 100 freestyle (49.06) and joined Nick Harrington, Coughlin and Noah Jamieson in winning the 200 freestyle relay (1:28.77). The same four also took second in the 400 free relay (3:15.27).
Lake Forest's Alex Streightiff repeated as conference champ in diving by tallying 511.55 points, while the Scouts' Michael Hambleton won the 200 freestyle (1:49.10). Dylan Boyd captured the 50 freestyle (21.70) and 500 freestyle (4:47.25).
Mike Ward of Mundelein touched first in the 100 backstroke (53.12). He also swam on the third-place 200 medley relay (1:41.02), as he teamed with Ryan Magee, Duncan Black and Eric Kozokar.
Mundelein's Will Garcia was third in the 500 freestyle (5:01.45). He also swam on the third-place 200 freestyle relay (1:30.63) with Ward, Kozokar and Black.
Mundelein finished fourth with 146 points.
"This was the last conference meet for the seniors so we just wanted to have good swims, drop times and set ourselves up for sectionals," said Mustangs coach Rahul Sethna, who had Jake Gonzalez, Eric Nielsen and Eubin Kim fully tapered. All three had significant drops in times.
Led by Brian Rabinowitz and Jeffrey Zhang, Vernon Hills finished fifth with 139 points. Rabinowitz and Zhang joined forces with Derek Zhang and Calvin Yoon to finish a strong second behind Stevenson in 400 medley relay (1:40.42).
"We're still working on the under-waters and relay starts," said Rabinowitz, who also took second in the 100 backstroke (55.49) and fourth in the 100 butterfly (54.59). "Overall, I'm pretty happy. I'm not fully tapered yet, so today we see where we're at and fix some things before sectionals."
Zhang also took third in the 100 free (55.93), while Yoon was third in the 200 IM (2:03.80).
The meet was also a good tuneup for sectionals for Warren, which finished sixth with 123 points.
Josh Church took home three all-NSC medals for the Blue Devils. He finished fifth in both the 100 freestyle (51.07) and 400 freestyle relay, joining Mitchell Ihrig, Harry Quirke and Paul Neal to swim a 3:35.11. Church, Ihrig, Neal and Nathan Metz placed sixth in the 200 freestyle relay (1:34.61).
The new faces on deck included Simon Plakhin, the lone representative from Round Lake.
The senior, who swims club at Hasting's Lake YMCA in Lake Villa, soaked in everything at Vernon Hills.
"I was a little nervous but I've been swimming for 6 or 7 years so I'm used to it," said Plakhin, who clocked personal-bests in the 50 freestyle (24.81) and 100 freestyle (54.82). "You get one shot at state and (the chance) to represent Round Lake High School."
Mahip Deora was the lone representative from Lakes. He competed in the 50 and 100 freestyles.
Noah Van Alstyne, Patrick Christianson, Louie Cruz and Joshua Kurtzer competed multiple events for Wauconda.