Boyle, Senese lead Neuqua Valley to victory
Connor Boyle says he and teammate Jimmy Senese play different leadership roles on the Neuqua Valley boys swimming team, but when it comes to getting the job in the pool, they both deliver very similar, outstanding results.
The Wildcats juniors were back in form at Thursday's triangular meet at Waubonsie Valley, helping Neuqua Valley edge the hosts 183 to 175, with the DeKalb/Sycamore co-op taking third with 140 points.
Boyle and Senese helped the Wildcats win the 400 and 200 free relays and also combined for three individual titles. They made an early season statement that the Neuqua Valley program plans to contend for another state trophy even after being hit hard by the graduation of several key state placers.
"For sure I think me and Jimmy in that (leadership) sense bring two kinds of aspects. Jimmy's more lighthearted, and he brings the vibe to the team," said Boyle, who added first-place finishes in the 100 and 200 free races to go along with the two relay titles. "I like to think I bring the seriousness. Obviously, he's got a little seriousness too. Our team is young this year but overall we have a lot of potential and a solid team."
The Wildcats, who won the state title in the 400 free relay last year, closed the meet by taking the event with a time of 3:17.93. Senese and Boyle -- returners from the state championship unit -- swam with Amir Aliyev and Ryan Doerrer. The host Warriors were second in the state last year in the event and second Thursday as Lucas Conrads, Elmer Weng, Aayush Deshpande and Brian Knothe turned in a solid time of 3:19.94.
Boyle, who took fourth in the state as a sophomore last winter in the 200 free, won that event Thursday in 1:45.08 while Conrads was second for the Warriors in 1:46.99. The talented Neuqua junior also won the 100 freestyle in 46.62.
Senese, meanwhile, added a title in the 50 free to go with his two wins on the Wildcats relays.
"Today was a pretty good meet," he said. "We've been working really hard this year. We're only a month into the season, but this is part of the time where we're working the hardest, the lifting and early morning practices. Even this morning we had a really good morning practice. I think it's really good how our team can stay focused while we have finals too. Everyone's committed and we've had perfect turnouts."
Waubonsie Valley may not have won the meet, but the Warriors put on a great show and will head into Saturday's loaded Neuqua Valley invite with plenty of confidence.
"It was a great swim. I was real happy. We had a very poor turnout at West Chicago last weekend. We just didn't swim very well at all," Warriors coach Chris Hagenbaumer said of his team's off day at the West Chicago Relays.
"This week was a really nice one. We had a good hard workout even though we had finals and we were able to turn it around and have a really good meet today. Neuqua's always tough. They've got a lot of depth. We just don't have the depth that they do and to be within a few points like that at the end of the day ... it was tight all the way to the end and I'm pretty pleased with that."
Waubonsie Valley highlights included Weng's wins in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke, Deshpande's wins in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, a first-place showing by all-stater Conrads in the 500 free, and the team's victory in the 200 medley relay.