Stevenson swims to '4-peat' at NSC meet
The North Suburban Conference meet at Stevenson on Saturday afternoon served as somewhat of a curtain call for many swimmers, which helped explain why the atmosphere was so electric.
"It's the last meet of the season for many, so the motivation is to swim as fast as you can," Mundelein coach Rahul Sethna said. "And for seniors swimming their last race, it's a chance to go out with a bang."
Up to six entrants are allowed for each event, but that dwindles to two entries for each team in each event for sectionals.
Sethna and the upstart Mustangs finished a distant second (213 points) behind champion Stevenson, which totaled 446 points in capturing its fourth NSC title in a row under coach Doug Lillydahl. Lake Forest wound up third (198), Warren fourth (161) and Libertyville fifth (153) in the eight-team field.
"Obviously the North Suburban is your port, and you want to do well and carry that success on to the state series next week," said Lillydahl, who guys shattered a host of JV records as well as four varsity NSC meet records.
"It's the excitement of putting it all on the line, especially for our guys who are swimming their last race of the season and for some the last of their high school careers."
Stevenson captured victories in all 12 events.
The 200 medley relay kicked things off when the quartet of Jack Zhang, Joseph and Joshua Song, and Richard Lee touched first in an NSC record time of 1:35.09.
Zhang also won the 200 IM (1:56.72) and swam third on the winning 400 free relay, joining Jake Kim, Nathan Gates and anchor Topher Stensby to touch in a meet-record 3:10.78.
Stensby, the reigning two-time 50 freestyle state champ and defending 100 free state champ, won both of those events on in 20.75 and 46.761 seconds, respectively.
Stensby also swam third on the winning 200 freestyle relay, teaming up with Lee, Joseph Song and Max Ryaguzov to touch in 1:24.40. Stensby swam anchor on the winning 400 free relay, which also included Jake Kim, Gates and Zhang to touch in an NSC-record 3:10.78.
Ross also won the 200 freestyle (1:43.30), while Foster Swanson claimed the title in the 500 freestyle (4:47.50).
Ryaguzov also won a title in the 100 backstroke (53.58), while Ari Zaritsky captured the 100 breaststroke in a record time of 58.16 seconds.
Jack White was a champion in 1-meter diving (376.70), and senior co-captain Ben Maya took the championship in the 100 butterfly (52.93).
"Go figure. I didn't win a race all year so it's wonderful to win my last butterfly race of my high school career," said Maya, who will compete on the sectional team next weekend at Barrington. "We've really been pushing each other in practice. It's a special season because we're top-heavy with seniors. We start tapering this week and build ourselves up this week, all in the hopes of doing well (at state)."
Libertyville's Isaac Paul finished second (339.10) to White in diving, while Warren's Spencer Burton was third (327.00).
The Blue Devils' quartet of Dante Rinaldi, Taylor Vander-Jeugdt, Austin Edmondson and Leo Forney earned a second-place medal in the 200 medley relay (1:43.42).
"The kids that are tapered are swimming well," Warren coach Chris Bertana said. "But we're keeping our eye on the prize and will hopefully get some guys through to state next week."
Mundelein's Omar Fathallah was third in the 50 free style (21.95) and 100 freestyle (48.45), while Libertyville's Lawrence Wang took third in the 100 butterfly (53.21).
Lake Forest's Colin Kingsley took second to Swanson in the 500 freestyle (4:51.19). The 200 freestyle relay of Luke Lanigan, Kingsley, Oliver Akintade and Carlos Minetti was second as well in the 200 free relay (1:30.58).
The same four also took second in the 400 free relay (3:19.54).
The NSC honored one swimmer from each team with the Sportsmanship Award. Winners included: Peter Landis, Lake Forest; Chris Cochrane, Zion-Benton; Jeremy Gunter, Warren; Lukas Vla, Libertyville; Matt Allore, Mundelein; Jacob Minin, Stevenson; and, Isaac Palacio, Waukegan.