Boys swimming and diving: Barrington's O'Leary, Hersey's Thomas have stellar days at state
The IHSA state boys swimming and diving finals built upon Friday night's preliminary excitement, with athletes across the state battling for the glory and the title of IHSA state champion on Saturday.
The Mid-Suburban League had some standout swimmers and divers advance to finals.
Barrington freshman Griffin O'Leary had the best weekend for MSL swimmers, finishing second in the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 49.53. Glenbrook North senior Ryan Purdy won the event in a time of 49.21.
"I knew my competition from (Friday) night and I knew I'd have to go out fast and really work the underwaters," said O'Leary, who finished second in Friday's prelims. "I was a little nervous going into today, but I just swam my race and got second again. This year was a great experience and next season I'm just going to try to give it my all."
Barrington's medley relay team of O'Leary, Jack Hoppe, Sam Burrell, and Steven Fischer finished in 12th place with a time of 1:35.07.
At this year's state meet, the IHSA removed some of the separation between athletes with disabilities and the general state meet. Teams could now work fully together and could compete for a chance to take home the combined state trophy. Hersey came back to the state finals looking to seize the combined state trophy. With a solid showing on the boards and a new young athlete to dominate the AWD events, Hersey was in the prime spot to take home a trophy.
Nick Nocita had a rocky start, but persevered and performed some excellent final dives Saturday. Finishing 12th with a score of 409, the future is bright for Nocita as he plans to continue diving for a Division 1 program.
Noah Thomas had a fantastic state debut and was integral to the Huskies' success.
Thomas claimed fifth place in the AWD 200-yard free (3:32.76), the AWD 50 free (40.65), the AWD 100 free (1:37.83), and the AWD 100 breaststroke (2:11.95).
"Today he's been as solid as he can be," said Huskies coach Dick Mortenson. "Noah is a fierce competitor and it's showing today."
The Huskies placed third overall in the combined championship, bringing home a sizable trophy that they certainly earned.
This year's state finals especially highlighted the deep talent found across the state.
Lyons' medley relay team of Jack Thorrell, Michael Walsh, Will Duerr, and Bryson Breitenbucher won with a time 1:31:46.
Pushing ahead of his competition early and holding on to his lead at the end, Loyola's Luke Maurer became this year's state champ in 200 freestyle with an impressive time of 1:37.33.
The 200-yard individual medley victory went to Glenbrook North's Purdy, who posted a time of 1:49.44.
Stevenson's Topher Stensby swam exceptionally and once again ignited the pool deck in excitement in the 50 free, winning the event in an impressive time of 20.04. It was Stensby's third-straight state title in the event.
The pool was quickly reformed during a break giving way to a phenomenal diving portion as Homewood-Flossmoor's Jack Williams gave a phenomenal final dive, earning him the state victory. Williams finished with a final score of 531.20.
St. Charles North's William Myhre looked stronger than ever in the butterfly, slightly improving upon his stellar preliminary performance and defending his first-place seeding. Myhre finished with a time of 48.61.
Maurer came back to earn another state title in the 100 free. The competition was fierce, but after the water settled Maurer had pulled ahead and finished with a time of 44.33.
Oak Park-River Forest's Liam Hutchinson was moving in the 500-yard free, going the distance and improving upon his already impressive preliminary swim. Hutchinson finished in an quick 4:24.47 to win the title.
Neuqua Valley's 200 free relay team of Connor Boyle, Patrick Jensen, Matt Townsend and Jimmy Senese held onto their early lead and won the event in a stellar time of 1:23.41.
Myhre added another victory to his collection, winning the breaststroke in a time of 54.81.
The final event was the 400 free relay with Neuqua Valley's team of Jack Hiss, Tanner Schrey, Senese, and Boyle bringing down the house and finishing in a phenomenal 3:03.36.
St. Charles North won the team championship, posting a combined team score of 141. Neuqua Valley placed second with 112 points, while Waubonsie Valley was third.