Boys swimming and diving: Mundelein ecstatic over first sectional title
You know something special has happened when a swimming coach ends up in the water shortly following a meet.
Well, it did for coach Rahul Sethna and the Mundelein boys swimming and diving team, which captured its first sectional title at Highland Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Mustangs collected 261 points to edge out the host Giants (257.5). Lake Forest was third (215), followed by Deerfield (172), Warren (133.5), Libertyville (119), Vernon Hills (87), Zion-Benton (30), and Waukegan (16).
Qualifiers will compete in the state meet next Friday and Saturday at Evanston High School.
"We've been bridesmaids a few times, so this feels great to win it," said Sethna, who was also awarded Sectional Coach of the Year. "It's a credit to our guys. They knew it would take a huge effort and we definitely swam with that mentality today."
Mundelein got things rocking and rolling right off the bat, winning the 200-yard medley relay after Jack Long, Cale Sethna, Michael Romero, and Parker Geary touched in 1:36.84.
"We came right out of the gate and for the relay to go from third to first was awesome," said Long, who will make his first trip to state next week. "We really wanted to beat Highland Park, so we're really excited."
Romero had quite a day as Mundelein qualified a school-record 11 swims for the state meet, which translates to having had qualifiers in 8 out of 12 events on Saturday.
After the 200 medley, Romero followed with a victory in the 200 individual medley with a season-best 1:56.27. He also qualified individually for the 100 breaststroke in 58.61.
"I've been working hard all season on my speed and keeping up my tempo," he said. "I'm really excited about state. I was an alternate last year but didn't get to swim. But I know what the experience is like (going to state)."
Romero also swam the third leg of the 200 free relay, which had Aaron Anastos, Geary, and Omar Fathallah qualifying after finishing second in 1:27.11.
"It's awesome representing the team and Mundelein High School," said Geary, a returning state qualifier. "We're super team-oriented."
Geary, Long, and Cale Sethna serve as the team captains.
The Highland Park quartet of Alex Gordon, Bora Hopali, Ryan Tran, and Tobe Obochi won the 200 free relay with a pool record time 1:25.49.
Mundelein also qualified second in the third relay of the day-the 400 freestyle-when Dan Oleinik, Anastos, Long, and Fathallah touched in 3:11.91. Highland Park and Lake Forest also qualified.
A returning state qualifier hoping to get back to the top-6 in the 50 freestyle, Fathallah qualified in that event by taking second (season best 21.01). He was also second in the 100 freestyle with another season-best time of 45.91.
"I'm still tapering so I'm pretty tired," he said. "But I'm really focused. Tobi and I are good friends and have good races. But I had a feeling it would be a good day and it was."
Geary qualified by winning his heat in the 50 free and finishing fifth overall with a 21.71. He also qualified second in the 100 backstroke (52.68).
Libertyville's Lawrence Wang returns to the state meet after winning the 100 butterfly in 51.73.
"The swim felt powerful and the tempo was good," he said. "Could always be faster though. I'm just trying for under 51 seconds and the rest takes care of itself."
Obochi bested Fathallah in winning both the 50 and 100-freestyle.
Long also qualified by winning the 100-backstroke in 52.26 ticks.
Lake Forest's Colin Kingsley qualified by winning the 200 freestyle (1:42.97), while Anastos qualified right behind in second (1:43.75).
Kingsley also qualified after winning the 500 freestyle in 4:39.97.
Luke Lanigan also qualified in the 50 freestyle (21.56) and third in the 100 freestyle (47.01), while Highland Park's Alex Gordon qualified in the 50 freestyle (21.67).
The Lake Forest 200 free relay also qualified after Lanigan, Jack Clawson, Peter Landis, and Kingsley touched third (1:27.11).
Vernon Hills' Kevin Schumacher was fourth in diving (424.05), while Warren sophomore Blake Vander-Jeudgt was fifth, Libertyville's Isaac Paul sixth (412.95), and Warren's Spencer Burton seventh with 405.20.
Libertyville senior Jake Hughes also looks to sneak in after taking 11th place in diving with 333.20 points. Deerfield's Zayne Danielwicz won the event with 523.95.