Boys swimming: New Trier edges fired-up Stevenson

The anticipation for a boys swimming dual meet normally doesn't carry a lot of hype.

Mostly, it serves as another chance to work on mechanics and lower times, albeit in a competitive atmosphere. After all, it's all just preparation for the state meet in a month's time.

But this wasn't your normal Saturday afternoon in Lincolnshire.

The get-together between swimming and diving titans New Trier and Stevenson carried a little extra weight, as the Trevians haven't lost a dual in three-plus years, while the Pats had gone unblemished in duals for more than two seasons.

"This is going to be a barnburner," said Pats coach Doug Lillydahl shortly after reigning 50 freestyle state champ, junior Topher Stensby, blistered the field by winning that event in 20.68. "There's a lot of spirit in here today. I was just delighted to have scheduled this meet. New Trier is the kind of program that we aspire to be. They should contend for the state title."

Stevenson's coach definitely had it pegged correctly.

After Stensby won the 50 free, the meet to that point had each team winning two events.

Senior Daniel Ng posted the first event victory for Stevenson by winning the 200 freestyle (1:43.45).

Senior Danny Less then finished second in 1-meter diving with a career best 224.75 points, which drew the teams even at 39 points after the fifth event.

"It's definitely a special meet and we just want to show them (New Trier) that we're contenders," said Less after hitting a forward two-and-a-half somersault tuck for his sixth and final dive.

Ng then won the 100 butterfly (52.58). Stensby followed with a victory in the 100 freestyle (45.95), and Stevenson was ahead in points 59-51 after the seventh event.

However, Ean Vandergraaf won the 500 freestyle in 4:52.59 to put New Trier ahead 64-62. From there, the Trevians posted wins in the final four events to collect enough points and eke out a hard-fought 102-84 victory.

"This was a fun meet. Stevenson is so deep and versatile, and it was a chance for us to get better and try and hone our craft," said New Trier fourth-year coach Josh Runkle.

For the Patriots, the meet also served as a opportunity to pay homage to their senior contingent, which proudly took the walk down the "tunnel of spirit."

Justin Ginsberg has been a four-year swimmer, and it showed. He won the 200 freestyle (1:59.68) and 100 freestyle (54.22) to help the JV 2 squad come away with a 103-77 victory over the Trevs.

"I think the thing I take away most is that our team attitude is such that we know we can succeed at any level, and it's just the little inches and seconds that we're working on," said Ginsberg, who paired with fellow senior Eric Osuch, Hemsith Senevirante and Nathan Mossman to touch in 1:41.10 in the 200 free relay.

Four-year swimmer Tae-Hwan Kim swam anchor when he joined Adrian Marin, David Gorin, and Alan Luo to touch second in the 200 medley relay, also in the JV 2 division.

"I started not knowing how to swim four years ago, and the thing I will remember the most is how everyone consolidates into a family here," said Kim, who also led off the third-place 200 free relay where he joined Nathan Pedigo, Drew Wangard, and Alex Hong to touch in 1:47.20.

The JV division also pulled away for a 130-53 victory as Andrew Luo won the 100 butterfly (57.06) and swam the third leg of the winning 200 free relay with Jacob Minin, Michael Lee, and Filip Mihajlovic (1:33.53).

Besides Kim, Osuch, Luo, Less, Ginsberg, and Ng, the other seniors graduating include Spencer Guercio, Collin Kapecki, Sam An, Jack Brady, Alex Bryant, Jayden Cho, Izaac Kahn, David Kim, Sam Yeo, Allen Kuncheria, Michael Lee, Luo, Sid Nair, Ojas Rade, Kelvin Rim, John Tan, Sumeet Thosar, and manager Gabby Farber.

Kapecki, Ng, Less and Guercio served as co-captains.

"This is a special class and we can't thank them enough for what they've meant to the program," said Lillydahl.

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