Libertyville, Warren swimmers honor teammate who died
It still stings, and will for a long time.
Warren standout swimmer Josh Church was taken suddenly and too soon when he collapsed and passed away during a club swim meet last month.
Libertyville tried to eased the pain when Warren visited for a North Suburban Conference dual meet Thursday evening. Libertyville's swimmers and fans donned blue T-shirts with "Josh Eklund Church" in an effort to honor him.
"Our guys wanted to show their appreciation for him," said Libertyville first-year coach Amanda Pechauer, whose team also presented flowers to the Church family and wore blue swim caps with the initials "JC" on the side. "We needed to pay our respects to a fallen member of the swimming community and family."
It was also senior night at Libertyville, and not only did the Wildcats honor their own, they paid homage to the Warren seniors as well.
"That was all Libertyville as far as the T-shirts and honoring Josh," Warren coach Chris Bertana coach. "Very classy. It was a hard night to keep emotions in check, but we really appreciate Libertyville doing something like that."
Libertyville won the meet 123-63, as state-veteran Eric Turner helped lead the way. Turner, who's committed to the Marines, won both the 50 freestyle (22.68) and 100 butterfly (55.67) and was part of two winning relays.
In the 200 freestyle relay, he joined forces with Austin Stevenson, Billy Bennett and Sean Coughlin to swim a 1:31.41. He then teamed up with Stevenson, Coughlin and Richi Rush in winning the last event of the evening, the 400 freestyle relay in 3:25.83.
"It was one of those emotional nights with a lot going on, and you're going to swim really well or not the best," said Turner, a three-time state qualifier. "Overall, I swam OK tonight. I've been working in practice trying to have a higher kick rate, especially in the freestyle and fly. I think we're where we want to be for this point early in the season."
Stevenson also picked up a victory in the 200 freestyle (1:57.74), while Rush also won the 200 IM (2:06.67).
Coughlin also won the 100 freestyle (50.87), Lucas Vla took the 500 freestyle (5:35.28), and Bennett touched first the 100 breaststroke (1:04.01). Jacob Reichert captured diving with 218.60 points.
Warren sophomore Brian Tabourot picked up a victory in the 100 backstroke (56.79). Warren's divers fared well too, as Nicholas Hoppe (214.20) finished second while Zack Bongratz (186.10) was third.
"Our diving is really coming along," Bertana said. "Our guys finished 1-2 in the first two invitationals. We're just trying to have as much fun as possible and swim with a lot of heart and for Josh."