Boys swimming and diving: Barrington, Fremd look to be class of MSL again
When it comes to the Mid-Suburban League boys swimming circuit, early indications show Barrington and Fremd as two teams, in particular, to once again keep an eye on. The two occupied the top two spots in the league a year ago.
"Barrington and Fremd always are such great meets for us," Palatine coach Katie Mroz said. "They typically are strong across the board and only make our team better as we compete against them."
Barrington coach John Valentine agrees with the Fremd prognostication. "Fremd will be a tough conference competitor this year," he said.
Hersey coach Dick Mortensen had this quick scouting report: "Barrington, Conant and Fremd always are the cream of the crop," he said. "Prospect and Buffalo Grove have improved and also will be tough."
Barrington returns state qualifiers in backstroke state runner-up Griffin O'Leary (back, fly) and senior Jack Hoppe (breast). O'Leary, a sophomore, was 0.32 seconds off graduated state champion Ryan Purdy of Glenbrook North.
Also back are senior Dan Langlois (sprint freestyle) and junior Dan Emary (distance freestyle).
"Our strength is our feeder program (Barrington Swim Club), which prepares kids well for distance events," Valentine said. "Our high school coaches focus on technique improvement and recruiting kids who are new to the sport."
Valentine added Barrington will be bolstered by a strong group of returning divers who will aid the team at conference and sectionals. He also expects the Bronco relay teams to be much improved, bolstered by the addition of Palatine Park District swimmer Toby Cotner, a freshman. "We look forward to a great new season of swimming and diving," Valentine said.
•Conant, third in the MSL a year ago, graduated 14 seniors, including three state qualifiers. Key contributors for the Cougars will be seniors Dylan Pokorny (breast, IM), Spencer Urban (back, freestyle) and Konrad Sak (freestyle), along with juniors Noah Lawson (distance), Patrick Reckko (freestyle and back), and sophomores Evan Bestor (breast and IM) and Spencer Vecchione (freestyle, fly). Coach Brian Drenth said to look for Bestor and Pokorny to challenge for state cuts.
•Hersey won the MSL East for a second year in a row and logged a fourth-place overall finish. Senior Gavin Hill is back after taking 19th in the state in the 100 and 25th in the 50. Sophomore Noah Hill earned fourth-place state finishes in the 50, 100 and 200 and took fifth in the breast in the athletes with disabilities category (helping the Huskies to a third-place state trophy in the combined division last year). Also back are seniors Spencer Burkhalter (breast, IM), Jack Troyer (diving), Danny Pollina (fly) and Matt Gankhuleg (breast), along with junior Ethan Marunde (200, breast), and sophomores Jack Wojowicz (backstroke) and Kevin Pollina (500). Key newcomers include freshman Andrew Flight (breast) and Myroslav Lehkyy (sprints)
"Senior leadership will guide us this year," Mortensen said. "We are very experienced and I believe that will help us. Middle distance and breaststroke should be our strength. We have numerous swimmers who are flexible in these events. Top-quarter of the conference always is our goal with defense of our East title something we will key on."
•Buffalo Grove, which lost only two seniors from its sectional roster, ended in sixth place in the MSL, but also returns a host of contributors, including seniors Aidan Nix (50, 100, IM) and Ryan Eagan (200, 500), as well as juniors Tommy Tsiftilis (100, 200, 500), Alex Santiago (50, 100) and Daniil Vasiljevs (IM, fly and back). Key newcomers include seniors Ryan Kenny (200, 500) and Luke Naughton (breast), juniors James McKevitt (back), Erik Swanson (IM, fly) and Emil Lasocki (200, 500), and freshmen Matt Stelmaszak (IM, fly, breast), Luke Czeryba (IM, breast) and Tucker Dombrowski (breast).
•Palatine, seventh a year ago in the MSL, returns a host of seniors, including 2018-2019 team MVP Christian Snyder (fly, freestyle), Sam Adame (back, sprint freestyle), Stefan Filip (distance freestyle, IM0 and AJ Krambeer (diving), as well as junior Henry Gabriel (breast, IM) and sophomores Hubert Dybinski (distance freestyle), Max Adame (back, freestyle) and Alex Kania (fly). Freshmen Matt Stepp (breast) and Shion Takashima (fly) also look to help. Gabriel dropped 3 seconds on his breaststroke at the end of last season.
"I feel like overall we have strength in every event, but the butterfly, breaststroke and distance freestyle events specifically will definitely have competition for the sectional lineup," Mroz.
•Elk Grove, which took ninth in conference last season, returns Stefan Jevtic (freestyle), Gavin McCorry (distance freestyle and back), Christian Krawec (sprint freestyle) and Manny Contreras (diving). "We are very deep in our freestyle events," Grens coach Keith Kura said.
•Wheeling coach Tod Schwager likes the progress 500 swimmer Mason Hergert has made. "Mason came in last year with high expectations and was our No. 1 swimmer," he said. "This year he should build on that and challenge for state." A key newcomer for the Wildcats is Derrick Dappert.
•Rolling Meadows coach Monika Chiappetta returns her top point-scorers from last year in seniors Nathan Helminski and Vlad Mollin, along with juniors Sam Keeley (sprints, breast), Lukas Slifierz (back and fly), Jacob Hardt (IM, free) and Mick Lawlor (sprint freestyle). Key newcomers include Kasper Pancerz, Russell Mathews and diver Carter Ferguson.
•In the West Suburban Conference Gold Division, Leyden is coming off a tied-for-fourth finish a year ago and returns seniors Omar Montiel (500) and Simon Koziol (fly), along with junior Kiril Tzintzev (IM). Junior Alex Gach will help coach Chris Cook out in the 50 and 100. The Eagles have more than 50 swimmers in their program.