Heavenly outcome for fourth-place Stevenson

  • Stevenson's Topher Stensby celebrates his victory in the 50-yard freestyle during the boys swimming state finals at New Trier High School in Winnetka on Saturday.

    Stevenson's Topher Stensby celebrates his victory in the 50-yard freestyle during the boys swimming state finals at New Trier High School in Winnetka on Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Nicholas Baginski starts the 400-yard freestyle relay during the boys swimming state finals at New Trier High School in Winnetka on Saturday.

    Stevenson's Nicholas Baginski starts the 400-yard freestyle relay during the boys swimming state finals at New Trier High School in Winnetka on Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Second-place finisher Topher Stensby of Stevenson, right, shakes hands with event winner Michael Balcerak of St. Viator following the 100-yard freestyle during the boys swimming state finals at New Trier High School in Winnetka on Saturday.

    Second-place finisher Topher Stensby of Stevenson, right, shakes hands with event winner Michael Balcerak of St. Viator following the 100-yard freestyle during the boys swimming state finals at New Trier High School in Winnetka on Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/25/2017 9:46 PM

Ever been on Cloud 9?

If not, ask any member of the Stevenson boy's swimming and diving contingent and they'll be happy to paint a pretty vivid picture for you.

 

"Amazing," sophomore Topher Stensby said. "It's an absolutely an amazing feeling, especially being the underdog. I don't have the words for it right now."

That was understandable for Stensby, considering he rocked the 50-yard freestyle, winning the title in the high school boys state meet Saturday at New Trier.

"I didn't even qualify for this event last year, so to win it is incredible," Stensby said. "I owe so much to my coaches for helping me get me prepared."

Stensby was seeded fourth going into Friday's prelims and blistered the field in the finals by swimming a lifetime-best time of 20.44 seconds.

"The chances are rare where you get to coach a state champ," Stevenson coach Doug Lillydahl said. "Topher is a big-meet swimmer."

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Stensby became only the third state swimming champ for Stevenson. Before Saturday, 2003 was the last time a state title was won when both the 200 medley relay and Tommy Gregory (100 butterfly) accomplished the feat.

Stensby was almost a multiple state champion. He took second in the 100 freestyle, as St. Viator's Micha Balcerak edged him out by 2 one-hundredths of a second. Stensby swam 45.14.

Stevenson's relays have been stellar all season long, and Saturday's efforts help put an exclamation point on a superb weekend as the Patriots tallied 106 points to finish fourth in the team standings.

Lyons repeated as state champs with 156.5 points, while Hinsdale Central (142) was second and host New Trier (120) third.

Stevenson started Saturday's action is fine fashion, as the 200 medley relay strutted its stuff to a ninth-place medal. Daniel Ng, Joseph Song, Nick Baginski and Jacob Rosenkranz swam a 1:34.78 in the consolation finals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's been a great experience," said Baginski, a junior who was making his second appearance at state. "We push one another and everyone's been dropping times continuously. I think the key for our relays is a team member cares about one another and always has your back and is there to pick you up."

Baginski also placed eighth in the 50 freestyle (21.01). He then won the consolation heat of the 100 butterfly (seventh, 50.29).

Stensby joined Andrew Shashin, Rosenkranz and Ng to finish third in the 200 freestyle relay (1:24.78). Not to be outdone, the 400 relay finished off the meet with a runner-up finish. Baginski, Shashin, Ng and Stensby earned Stevenson its eighth medal, clocking 3:04.54.

Patriots senior Matt Krames was also at a loss for words after the 1-meter diving finals. He posted an 11-dive total of 460.35 points, good for a seventh-place medal.

"Definitely on Cloud 9," Krames said. "This has been an incredible experience. "I was so nervous. Two of our final three dives were the hardest. But it's all mental and I just told myself, 'You've done these in practice a hundred times.'

"We've been swimming really hot and were just wanting to make sure we had some people looking over their shoulder."

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