Boys swimming and diving: Filipovic, St. Charles North win Neuqua Valley Invitational
St. Charles North sophomore Aleksej Filipovic is not going around predicting a repeat state title for the North Stars this winter, but he does not expect any teams to outwork his.
Just back from the junior nationals meet in Federal Way, Washington, the talented St. Charles North swimmer helped lead his team to an impressive title at the Neuqua Valley Invitational. Filipovic set meet records while winning the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly and helped the North Stars score 363 points. That topped the 12-team field and held off runner-up Neuqua Valley, which scored 307.
The star sophomore for the North Stars also teamed with Ricky Williams, Nathaniel Baxter and Srboljub Filipovic to set another meet record while winning the 400 free relay with a time of 3:11.65. The Wildcats quartet of Amir Aliyev, Jimmy Senese, Connor Boyle and Ryan Doerrer took second in the meet's final event with a clocking of 3:15.55.
"It felt really good. I just came back from junior nationals so I'm still getting back into it," said Filipovic, a three-time all-stater as a freshman. "But this meet is a good test. And if we work harder than the other teams, we already know what can happen."
What happened was that St. Charles North won more than its share of events at a meet that featured six of the top 10 teams in the state, including the top three finishers at the 2018 state meet, where the North Stars were first, Neuqua Valley second and Waubonsie Valley third.
Calvin Windle and Williams went 1-2 in the 200 free and the North Stars also won the 200 medley relay. Boyle and Senese went 1-2 in the 50 free for the Wildcats, who had won their own invite team title the last two years.
St. Charles North coach Rob Rooney knows a win against the type of competition his team faced is not something to be taken lightly, but he also knows this year's team has a lot of work to do if it hopes to match last year's lofty achievements.
"I love this meet," he said. "We've had about a good four weeks of training, we're starting the season up, and getting ready before Christmas break. It's always to me one of the nice ways to start Christmas break, I mean to come down here and compete.
"You have a lot of teams here that are very talented and have a lot of talented individuals. It's nice to have the opportunity to race those kids in a pool like this and to be a team. That's the nice thing to me. We lost a couple kids who were integral parts of the state meet so now we are in the process of trying to find what we need. Glenbrook South and Loyola to me are the two best teams in the state. We have a lot of work to do to find out who we are."
Hinsdale Central was third in the team standings at Neuqua and the Warriors tied for fourth place with Naperville North.
While Waubonsie Valley is not as deep as some of the other teams, it does feature some state-meet threats back from last year, including senior Aayush Deshpande. The Harvard-bound swimmer took second in the state in both the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly and was also part of the program's second-place 400 free relay team in 2018.
"Our team's not too big so we always know these invites are kind of hard with our depth. This is just a really good meet for December where you have six of the top 10 teams in the state from last year and you really get to kind of see where everyone's at," said Deshpande, who expects more state hardware this season.
"Obviously, it would be nice to win state. That's always a goal. Both IM and fly would be nice and then getting the relays back in the top six would be huge. We had some really good seniors last year, but now it's about grooming the younger swimmers and getting them ready for that top state level."
Boyle is another swimmer back after plenty of state success last year. On Saturday he not only won the 50 free, but the Wildcats junior set a meet record with his winning time of 45.45 in the 100 free, and joined teammates Tim Karubas, Senese and Alex Dunn to win the 200 free relay in 1:27.98.
Naperville North's Grant Bochenski won the 100 back and was second to Boyle in the 100 free.