Warren, Stevenson pool their efforts in Church's honor

 
By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/31/2017 10:37 PM
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Bittersweet was the general feeling floating around the Warren pool on Tuesday evening.

Stevenson came calling for the regular season dual meet finale, but the primary focus was honoring the Devil seniors as well as paying tribute to a fallen comrade in Josh Church, who was a standout Devils swimmer before suddenly passing away during a club swim meet last November.

"This has been an emotional but an awesome night and it's been one heck of a ride," said senior Satya Arcot, a four-year Devils swimmer who will be looking for a state berth in a couple of weeks. "I really don't know what else to say. We work really hard and to be honored like this is very special."

Arcot's best event is the 100-yard breaststroke, which he won on Tuesday in 1:03.21.

Fellow senior diver Nick Hoppe also had a lot of appreciation for this evening.

"It's very special being honored. We've given the time and put in the hours and it's like the school saying, we're proud to have you as a team. And we've all been swimming with Josh in our hearts," said Hoppe, who broke Sage Stephens' 6-dive record set in 2011 with 279.55 points at a meet last week. "Everything went as well as it could have (last week). I hit everything spot on and it was crazy with emotions from my teammates right after I'd broke the record."

Hoppe, who will dive for club while attending Illinois next fall, is a great success story after breaking a couple of bones in his next while performing on still rings for gymnastics three years ago.

"It was scary. I was paralyzed for a week," recalled Hoppe, who is one of Warren's best along with Zack Bongratz as both hope to earn state berths. "The transition in the sports has been smooth. The basics carried over well."

Hoppe finished second in 1-meter diving on Tuesday with a six-dive score of 248.70.

Beside Arcot, sophomore Brian Tabourot was Warren's other event winner; he won the 100 backstroke (56.35).

"I'm so proud of all of our guys, especially the seniors," said Devil coach Chris Bertana, whose squad will be at the conference meet at Stevenson a week from Saturday. "All of these guys work hard to get to their senior year. It's inspiring to see how far they come and what they can do when they put their minds to it. This was a real special night. And we're really looking forward to sectionals. We have a few guys that we think can get through (to state)."

Warren also paid homage to the Stevenson seniors, as many from both teams swim club together during the off-season.

And to honor Church, Warren had lane number 4 open during the 200 freestyle, as that was one of his best events.

"It's been so beautiful the support we've received," said Josh's mom, Alane. "Josh had a lot of friends from Stevenson that he swam club with. We just really appreciate them and everyone honoring him like they have."

Stevenson graciously donated to the Josh Church Memorial Fund on Tuesday, as well as presented Warren with a team-signed poster board.

And as for the Pats and the meet itself, it was business as usual for Stevenson, which pulled away with a 143-43 decision. The win marked the second straight year the Pats have gone unblemished at 7-0 in the NSC.

"We love coming here and racing them (Warren). They are a good, young team," said Stevenson coach Doug Lillydahl. "As for us, we're definitely in the upper stages of our team development. We're looking forward to sectionals."

Stevenson posted victories in 10 events Tuesday.

Diving school record-holder Matt Krames took top honors with 284.55 points.

Daniel Ng teamed with John Roh, Jacob Rosenkranz, and Andrew Shashin to win the 200 medley relay in 1:41.82. Ng then won the 100-freestyle in 51.19.

Nick Baginski won the 200 freestyle (1:47.33), Nathan Gates the 200 IM (2:05.84) and Topher Stensby the 100 butterfly (53.37).

Collin Kapecki swam a 22.90 to win the 50 freestyle, while Cameron Coffey took the 500 freestyle (5:07.22).

The Stevenson relays were also solid as the 200 free relay quartet of Ethan Batko, Lertsinsongserm, Matthew Han, and Coffey took first in 1:34.09.

Coffey was also on the victorious 400 freestyle relay where his paired with Varun Ganesh, Lertsinsongserm, and Jacob Minin to swim a 3:25.20.

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