Boys swimming: St. Charles North starts strong at state prelims
One of the time-honored misconceptions in Illinois high school swimming is that the state meet is only won on Saturday, which is the only day of the two-day event when points can be scored.
Teams, however, go a long way toward winning or losing the meet during the Friday preliminaries, as you can only score points if you've qualified athletes to those finals.
So it has to be said that St. Charles North took a massive step toward winning its first state title -- or its first state trophy -- however the points finally sort themselves out during Saturday's finals at New Trier. Based on unofficial scoring from the prelims, the North Stars "lead" the state with 134 points. Glenbrook South is 16 points back and Neuqua Valley sits 24 points behind Rob Rooney's team.
"From a team standpoint and trying to do something we've never done before, this was phenomenal," Rooney said. "We have some individual swims where we need to clean up some stuff. I think we can be faster -- we need to be faster. From the team side, I'm pretty stoked."
Relays, which count for double points, are always key to team success -- and the North Stars had the fastest 200-yard medley relay, are seeded second in the 200 freestyle relay and sit eighth in the 400 freestyle relay.
Individually, senior Will Myhre swam the fastest in prelims in the 100 butterfly and the 100 breaststroke and contemplated both his own and the team's performance following the day's activity.
"We came in and kept our focus," Myhre said. "If we keep the ball rolling and stick to what our talents are and stick to who we are, we're going to be all right. I feel relaxed. I took care of my swims today and worked on a couple of things I needed to. Tomorrow's what matters."
St. Charles East provided one of the strongest days and sits just outside the trophy places. The day started with diving success by Joey Scimeca, who is fourth entering today's finals, where each of the top 12 have three dives to complete their 12-dive performance.
"I think that everything up until now has been all about training. Since sectionals, it's all been mental, keeping my head clear and focusing on taking one dive at a time. This time around, there's a whole lot less stress," Scimeca said.
A year ago, Scimeca finished seventh and he said finishing in the top six was a goal. While Downers Grove North's Kevin Sullivan has a substantial lead, the other divers all have chances to move up or down in finals.
"It's going to be extremely competitive getting that top six," said Scimeca, who is a junior.
After a solid eighth-fastest 200 medley relay, the received a positive spark from sophomore Calvin Windle, who swam the fourth-fastest 100 butterfly. The day continued to move from success to success the rest of the afternoon for the Saints.
"Being 16th coming in today and getting the medley in was big," St. Charles East coach Adam Musial said. "Our whole process today was to see how many finals swims we could get. All season long, we talked about how you can't get too high or too low. We have our full lineup swimming tomorrow and I couldn't be more happy to see how we do when the points start scoring."
The last West Aurora swimmer to score in the state meet was Evan Par, who was third in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 200 IM in 2001. Blackhawks junior Cael McLaren ended that drought when he qualified ninth-fastest in the 100 breaststroke.
"We put in great training and everyone on our team has been pushing each other all year -- and I can't think them enough for that, because this is great. Last year, I fully tapered for sectionals and I was just happy to be at the state meet. Now I can focus on finals, which is what state is all about," McLaren said.
Marmion has two finals swims in retiring coach Bill Schalz's last meet as Cadets coach. Senior Nolan Fergus was fifth-fastest in the 100 butterfly and sophomore Ty Spillane was eighth-fastest in the 100 breaststroke.
"The medley relay was 13th and we thought that relay had a shot," Schalz said. "But in reality, Nolan and Ty were the two who went into the sectional meet without resting. This was their meet, and they came in and stepped up, moved up from their seeds and made finals."