Boys swimming: A purposeful county performance from Stensby, Stevenson
The Lake County boys swimming meet always serves multiple purposes.
It's a good chance to continue fine-tuning the mechanics here in the season's early going while also competing against some of the best the County has to offer.
That was the formula on Saturday afternoon at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, where the host Pats repeated as county champs after amassing a whopping 501 points and outdistancing runner-up Barrington (305).
Pats junior Topher Stensby was one of several participants certain to be a focal point of the final weekend of the season, in the state meet at Evanston Township High School in February.
The reigning state champ in the 50-yard freestyle, Stensby added four more county titles to his collection.
He first swam anchor on the winning 200-medley relay, joining Daniel Ng, Joseph Song and Max Ryaguzov to swim a 1:37.67.
He then blistered the field by winning his main event, the 50 freestyle, swimming a season-best 20.81 seconds, which just missed breaking a 14-year-old pool record set by former Lake Forest great Matt Grevers (20.49).
"I really want to get to 19 (seconds)," said Stensby, who followed his win in the 50 free with another title in the 100 freestyle (46.60).
Stensby then swam second on the winning 200 free relay, partnering with Richard Lee, Ryaguzov and Collin Kapecki to touch in 1:27.38, as Stevenson produced titles in six events.
"This meet is a great precursor to the conference and what to expect," said Stensby. "I'm really trying to focus on my breakouts and turns."
Ng was also a county champ in the 200 IM, where he touched in 1:57.42. He also won on the 400 free relay, where he joined Kapecki, Jake Kim and Jack Zhang in 3:15.90.
Sophomore Jack Hoppe of Barrington picked up a county title winning the 200 freestyle, where he swam a season-best 1:47.81.
"I barely made the top eight last year, so to be county champion is amazing," said Hoppe, an alternate on the state-qualifying medley relay as a freshman.
"I could see the guys right next to me, so I just swam as fast as I could and try and score as many points for the team."
The Broncos have a couple of thoroughbreds in the 500 freestyle, as evidenced by the 1-2 finish in that event. Sophomore Dan Emary touched first in 4:58.29, while freshman teammate Daniel Langlois was right behind in second at 4:58.30.
Libertyville finished third in the team standings with 288 points.
Austin Stevenson (22.68) and Billy Bennett (22.69) finished second and third, respectively, in the 50 free, while Sean Coughlin was second in the 100 freestyle (48.96).
Bennett also picked up a second-place medal in the 100-breaststroke (1:00.11) after he narrowly lost to good friend and Vernon Hills senior Calvin Yoon, who touched in 1 minute even.
"That was a great race. They go back and forth," said Cats second-year coach Amanda Pechauer. "But it's great to see healthy competition amongst the guys. I'm happy with where we are. There were a lot of good times today."
Yoon's victory helped Vernon Hills finish eighth (135).
"I'm just trying to have fun this year but it was great to beat Billy (Bennett)," said Yoon with a grin.
Meanwhile, Libertyville's 200 free relay also picked up a second-place medal after Bennett joined Nick Harrington, Coughlin and Stevenson to touch in 1:30.09.
"This was a good meet for us. Kind of gives you an idea of where you stand," said Harrington, who also finished fifth in the 100 butterfly (56.57).
"But it's been a slow process to get back into complete form. As long as you're ready by sectionals, and I know I'll get there."
Warren, which finished fourth (243), had a county champion when junior Brian Tabourot touched first in the 100 backstroke (53.11).
"I finished second last year, so to bring home the 'W' this time is very gratifying," said Tabourot, who also finished fifth in the 200 IM (2:07.16).
"I need to keep working on muscle endurance, especially for my last 25 (yards). But my underwaters are improving and I'm right under my times for this point in the season."
Mundelein, which finished fifth (230), is turning some heads in diving. Senior Kyle Ehemann took home the county title earlier in the day after earning 350.45 points. Fellow senior Derek Kendall was fifth with (281.75).
"Our divers got us off to a great start," said Mustangs coach Rahul Sethna. "We're trying to get in shape, but mentally we're in a good place. We were seventh last year, so we wanted to be better and faster this year, and we did that."
Highland Park, which finished seventh (167), had a county champion when Andrew Vorobev touched first in the 100 butterfly (53.59). He was also second to Tabourot in the 100 backstroke (54.13).