Naperville Central races well at Trojans invite
Naperville Central senior Stephen Noha and his teammates may have come up just shy of a team title at Saturday's Trojan Invitational in Downers Grove, but there were still plenty of reasons to smile and point to their fans.
Noha and the rest of this year's Redhawks squad have made great strides in the recent weeks and went back and forth with Lyons Township before settling for an impressive second-place showing at the seven-team meet. Lyons, which took fifth in the state last year, clung to a 250-249 lead heading into the final event Saturday and then pulled out a 282-275 title after winning the 400-yard free relay while Naperville Central took second.
But there were no long faces on the Redhawks, who have worked hard all winter to drop times and shore up their lineups. Noha, for one, has shown great improvement this season and on Saturday he won the open 200 and 500 free races and swam on the runner-up 400 free relay along with Goncalo Wanzeler, Colin Yao and Andrew Dai.
"The team swam really great. Mike (Adams) has a way of working us and he makes sure that every swimmer feels important," Noha said of the Redhawks coach. "He makes sure that everyone goes out there and races to their best effort. We had some really great swims from Owen Codo and Mark Laboe ... all of them today. So it was great to see the team effort. We were all cheering each other on; we have a lot of camaraderie."
While Naperville Central's team has come together nicely, so has Noha, one of this year's team leaders. He won the 200 free in 1:49.99 with teammate Yao in second, and then toughed out a 5:01.43 time while winning the 500, where Laboe came away with second-place points for the Redhawks.
"I feel really good and my mom is probably pretty happy for me too," said Noha as he waved to his mom up in the stands. "She's always my biggest supporter and I like to point to her after I get wins.
"My 200 I was really impressed with because I hadn't gone that fast since the beginning of the year. My 500 I was happy with ... I'm just trying to stay longer and stronger because it's such a long race."
Naperville Central coach Mike Adams has enjoyed watching his team's growth this season.
"We raced well, yeah the boys did a nice job," he said. "I give our kids a lot of credit. They've come a long way. It's been a nice last couple weeks. They're unheralded and they've worked hard. I've got no complaints."
Metea Valley was third in the team standings with 223 points, with Downers Grove South and Benet Academy rounding out the top five. The Mustangs' Jaeddan Gamilla and Jeddrick Gamilla took second and third, respectively in the 200 IM, which was won by Benet's Conner Hwang. Hwang then took second to the Redhawks Dai in the 100 butterfly.
The Redwings notched a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke, where Jack Kobus swam a 1:00.76 to hold off runner-up Jeddrick Gamilla, who swam a 1:01.62 for Metea Valley.
"My in-season teams have been pretty good. We've got a lot of volume training but I like where my times are," said Kobus. "It's nice to win here. It means a lot. We're going to keep working hard in the pool ...when taper comes, hopefully I've put in enough work."