Rush of excitement for Libertyville but Stevenson swims to victory

 
By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/6/2018 10:14 PM
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Libertyville senior Richie Rush is glad to be back in the water.

And even though he played water polo for the Wildcats last spring, it's been a year and a half since he has been involved in competitive swimming.

"I needed to be smart about things and focus on my grades," said Rush, who was a relay state qualifier two years ago as a sophomore. "Man, it's been hard getting back into shape. This is an endurance sport, of course. You just have to keep pounding out the yards in practice."

With 10 swimmers having graduated from last year, Rush's return to the team is a welcome site for third-year coach Amanda Pechauer.

"Richie looks great and like he hasn't lost a step," Pechauer said after her host Wildcats lost to North Suburban Conference rival Stevenson 137-48 in the season-opening dual for both clubs on Thursday night. "We've got a lot of talent but a lot of new faces, and Richie's presence -- not to mention his points -- is something we really need."

Stevenson's night featured Topher Stensby's pool-record swim in the 50 free, as he touched in first in 21.17 seconds, Stensby, breaking Michael Harrington's 2015 mark of 21.54.

The Notre Dame commit is the reigning two-time champ in the 50 freestyle and defending state champ in the 100 fly. Stensby also swam anchor on the winning 400 freestyle relay (3:18.89), which also included Jake Kim, Nathan Gates and Richard Lee.

Gates won the 200 free (1:49.73) and 500 free (5:00.36).

"We're just trying to take care of our business and set ourselves up for success down the road," Stevenson coach Doug Lillydahl said. "We love our rivalries with teams in the conference, and it's always nice to get off to the great start (in conference). The guys are excited to get into the season."

Stevenson's Jack Zhang picked up victories in the 100 free (49.58) and 100 backstroke (55.10). He also swam second on the second-place 400 free relay (3:23.57), which also featured Nic Comini, Max Ryaguzov and AJ Carollo.

Stevenson's Ari Zaritsky picked up a victory in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.05), while freshman Jack White won the 1-meter diving with 202.25 points. Ryaguzov added a victory in the 200 IM (2:01.72) and swam third on the winning 200 medley relay (1:40.38). The medley relay also included Zhang, Phoom Lertsinsongserm and Lee.

Rush competed in four events. He first swam on the fourth place 200-yard medley, as he teamed with Joe Eads, Lawrence Wang and Mark Plunkett to touch in 1:45.51. Rush also swam anchor on the third-place 200 freestyle relay. The same foursome swam 1:34.59. Rush also took fourth in both the 200 IM (2:08.60) and 100 backstroke (58.59).

"The backstroke is my main event and it would be awesome to get down to 55 seconds," Rush said.

Lawrence Wang, the only other state qualifier returning for Libertyville, won the 100 butterfly in 54.27.

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