Naperville Central makes invite worth the trip
The Naperville Central boys swimming team wasn't messing around Saturday.
After wondering last night whether they would be swimming at all at the Downers Grove North Trojan Invite, then surviving a long bus ride in crummy weather, the RedHawks decided to make the most of their journey.
They led from wire-to-wire and easily won the meet with 315.5 points, well ahead of Lyons Twp., second with 265. Metea Valley was third at 202.5.
"All together, I think everyone was sort of down about the weather and the drive here, but once we got here and we saw the heat sheet, I think everyone was ready to race," said senior Matt King, who won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:48.33, took second in the 500 freestyle in 4:58.49, and raced a leg on the winning 400 freestyle relay.
"We've been training in practice, doing a lot of racing kind of stuff, and that's really got us ready going into championship season soon," added Andrew Dai, who won the 200 individual medley, took second in the 100 butterfly and also raced in the 400 freestyle relay. "We're ready to race and give it our all."
In all the Redhawks had five event winners Saturday. In addition to the 400 freestyle relay, they also won the 200 medley relay, and along with King and Dai's wins, Sam Flessner took first in the 500 freestyle.
But look deeper for the depth. Naperville Central had seven runner-up finishes, and four third places. That was more than enough.
"You know what, the boys over the past two or three weeks have done a good job of racing," Naperville Central coach Mike Adams said. "Whatever meet it's at, they've gotten in and raced, worked really hard and they are beginning to see what they are capable of."
Metea Valley turned in a solid day under assistant coach Aubrey Miller, who stood in for coach Mark Jager, who was out of town. The Mustangs got their only winner from senior Samuel Kastan in the 50 freestyle, but got a pair of runners-up from Jeddrick Gamilla in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley. Kastan, Austin Martinson, Alex Lafferty and George Wang nearly got another in the 400 freestyle relay, taking third in 3:26.00.
"I'm right around the state cut, which is where I want to be," Kastan said of his 50 free. "Coming into it, I'm focusing a lot on my upper body, keeping my strong long, and I'm just kicking my legs as hard as I can."
Added Miller: "I think it was a pretty solid day for us. "We did a lot of sprinting this week, so what we were looking for today is, can they swim the races when they are tired? Because that tells us they are ready to taper."
Benet was fifth at 121 points behind a pair of sixth-place finishes from senior Ryan Flynn in the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. He also raced a leg on the 400 freestyle relay, along with Alex Edwards, Will Jenness and Ian Smith, which took fourth in 3:38.60.
"The 200 free, I was kind of nervous for it, because we've been doing a lot of sprint sets during the year," Flynn said, "and I didn't go the time I wanted, but also people other gained time, because this is the rough part of the season."
Host Downers North got a meet-record performance from senior diver Kevin Sullivan, who easily won the event 570.85. That was more than 100 points better than runner-up Cameron Kalish from Naperville Central.
"Kevin, he's just been coming back from an injury and he dove really strong last night, and he looks like he's getting back to his old self," said Trojans coach Adam Bruesch of Sullivan, who won a state championship a year ago.
Downers South was led by the 200 freestyle relay team of Max Wascher, Jack Piccoli, Pavlo Vovk and John Dounias, which took sixth in 1:43.18. The Mustangs finished seventh with 84 points.
St. Francis, eighth with 28 points, got solid swims out of Luke Wiesner, who was 12th in the 100 freestyle and eighth in the 100 backstroke.
"About 80 percent of our team is brand new to swimming," Spartans coach Matt Laufenberg said. "They're doing really well with it."