Fremd enjoys a winning MSL ride at Conant
Fully enjoying the Mid-Suburban League boys swimming and diving meet at Conant required the kind of mindset one takes to an amusement park.
You want to try new things and hope for the best -- but especially on a new ride, you also want to make sure you've got that harness securely fastened.
That approach served Fremd especially well Saturday afternoon. The Vikings had a few unexpected dips but bounced back each time as coach Kristen Newby's team repeated as conference champs.
"It was pretty much like coach Newby said it would be," said Fremd junior Alex Schillinger, who won the 100-yard breaststroke (59.66) and took third in the 200 IM (1:57.96), the latter a lifetime best. "It was like a roller-coaster. You have these great moments . . . and some others that weren't so great, some disappointments. At this meet, it's all about bouncing back from those."
Fremd finished at 284 points, with Barrington second at 248.5. Rolling Meadows took third with 143, followed by Prospect (129), Palatine (117) and Hersey (92).
Winning all three relays certainly helped keep the Vikings on an even keel. Senior Nick Nevins came up with a 21.0 anchor to help Fremd's medley relay edge Barrington's to start the meet.
Nevins went on to victories in all his races -- he won the individual 50 free (21.43, a pool record), the 100 free (48.01) and led off the winning 200 free relay (1:27.84).
"We just wanted it really badly today," Nevins said.
Vikes senior Nick Seroni had a high point in the 200 free, taking second in 1:44.27, and he placed third in the 100 fly (52.42).
Another Fremd senior, Arnas Maciunas, suffered the symptom most commonly associated with motion sickness just before his 200 free. He managed to clear the decks just in time to place fifth there, and he went on to take second in the 500 free in a time that beat his previous season best by more than 8 seconds. And Maciunas anchored the 400 free relay (3:14.36); all three Vikes relays set pool records.
"Very proud of our guys," said Newby. "We had some very good swims -- and some that need work, but only a handful. And for those, we know what we need to fix."
Fremd sophomore Paul Ponte had a key second-place effort in the 100 back (55.93), where teammate Tony Lee was sixth. And freshman Ethan Schillinger crept into the top six with a big drop in the 100 breast (1:04.34).
Barrington's effort was led by seniors Mitch Gavars and Colin O'Leary. They repeated as MSL champs in their strongest events -- Gavars winning both the 200 (1:44.23) and 500 (4:50.64) freestyles, and O'Leary taking the 100 back (51.87).
The Broncos' relays all finished in the top three, and O'Leary was second in the 100 fly (51.98). Other top contributors included John Lagoni (second in the 100 free, third in the 200), Riley Lehmann (third in the 500 free, fourth in the 100 back), Jack Hoppe (fifth in the 200 IM, fourth in the 100 breast), Shawn Ujiiye (sixth in the 100 fly) and Max Gersten (sixth in the 200 IM, fifth in the 100 breast).
Barrington coach John Valentine says the Broncos plan to shake up their relays for next week's sectional. Barrington will host that meet, and Fremd will be among the teams in attendance.
"Today's lineup was about our seniors and getting everybody involved in their last conference meet," said Valentine. "It was Gavars and O'Leary really doing the job for us.
"Fremd swam great, and congratulations to them. They deserved it today."
Rolling Meadows stepped up on the strength of consistently strong individual swims and a pair of second-place freestyle relays.
Josh Dellorto placed third in the 100 free and fourth in the 200, and had terrific leadoff legs on both relays (21.67 and 48.07).
Nate Pardini exceeded his seed by a long shot in placing fifth in the 500 free, and senior Filip Pancerz had top-six efforts in the 200 free and 100 fly.
And the Mustangs' Jake Pors might have had the best day of all, taking fifth in the 50 free (22.60) and seventh in the 100 free (49.84) along with free relay legs. Rolling Meadows is closing in on the state-qualifying standard in both free relays.
"Definitely surprised by the times, in a good way," said Pors. "Today was so much fun -- you see one of your teammates have a good race, and you just want to see if you can top it. I think we were all trying to do that -- and then you can see everybody just kind of feeding off that energy."
Hersey junior Michael Petro said he was lacking energy at the end of his winning 200 IM effort, but it certainly didn't show in the result.
He finished in 1:55.16, establishing both a pool record and a conference meet record. Petro later won the 100 fly in 51.13 -- also a pool record. He led off Hersey's fifth-place medley relay and supplied a 47.15 split on the end of the 400 free relay.
"I'm definitely happy with the times," said Petro. "I think maybe I'm a little more relaxed than in the past."
"More confident -- and more analytical, paying more attention to detail," said Hersey coach Dick Mortensen. "And the thing is, he isn't even close to rested. That doesn't start for him until next week."
Prospect missed out on points in the 400 free relay due to a DQ, but the Knights had plenty of positives as well. Jacob Kosinski got under one minute for the first time this season in the 100 breaststroke, taking second in 59.69, and Matt Inserra was fourth in the 50 free (22.53) and fifth in the 100 free (49.63).
The Knights' medley relay of Asher Ginnodo, Kosinski, Nick Partipilo and Inserra took a nice drop to 1:40.47 and placed third; Ginnodo later placed fifth in the 100 back while Partipilo was seventh in the 200 IM and 12th in the 100 free.
"I thought we swam pretty well as a team," Partipilo said. "At this point it's just about trying to be at our best next week. I like our chances."
Palatine's highlights came mainly from senior Alex Bartosik and juniors Sean O'Brien and Jake Klein. O'Brien came up with his best-yet conference finish by taking third in the 100 back (56.25), and Klein was fourth in the 500 free (4:59.45).
Bartosik was third in the 100 breast (1:01.72) and second in the 200 IM (1:57.06). That clocking in the IM bodes especially well for a performer who has an established history of big end-of-season time drops.
"We're tapering him for state this year, which is new for him," said Palatine coach John Schauble. "We feel like he's a in a really good spot right now. And we got nice swims from Klein and O'Brien -- they're coming along very nicely."
Hoffman Estates had a pair of top-six individual finishers, as Mark Heitkotter was third in the 50 free (22.40) and sixth in the 100 free (49.79) and Andy Hobar was fourth in the 200 IM (2:01.86).
Ricky Reeve of Wheeling and his dyed-blonde beard added to the circus vibe with a top-six finish in the 500 free (5:02.86) -- nearly the equal of his fully rested effort from last year.
Justin Lim was Conant's swimming standout. He was right on his lifetime bests in taking second in the 50 free (22.12) and fourth in the 100 fly (52.65).
And Cougars senior Cole Aykroid again distinguished himself in diving. He repeated as conference champ, breaking his own record score (483.80) to top Buffalo Grove's Jack Delattre (462.15), Prospect's Anthony Liva (436.35) and Fremd's Zach Mega (432.70). Hersey's Nick Nocita (409.80) was fifth and Palatine's Joseph Zhao (392.35) was sixth.
For Conant coach Brian Drenth, it was a most satisfying day. He was a leading voice in the call to overhaul the Dist. 211 pools, and this MSL meet marked the first one away from Barrington in quite a while.
"It was neat experience to have it here," said Drenth. "Look, we all love Barrington -- it's spacious, a great place for a championship meet. At the same time, I'm excited that we were able to show what Dist. 211 now has to offer."