Waubonsie Valley set up for big finish
In order to score as a team Saturday at the state boys swimming and diving meet, you've got to get as many swimmers as you can past Friday's preliminary round.
Aayush Deshpande did his part for Waubonsie Valley.
He finished in the top six in two individual events and two relays at Evanston, thus setting up the Warriors for a potentially big Saturday.
Deshpande took a pair of runner-up finishes in the 200-yard individual medley and in the 100 butterfly.
He also raced the third leg on the sixth-place 200 medley relay, the first event of the evening, and the second leg of the 400 freestyle relay, the last event.
That 200 IM was penultimate event for the tall, lanky senior. He finished just .01 behind the winner, Max Iida of Glenbrook South. His goal was to go 1:47, and he figures there are a few things he can tweak to get there. So how will he prepare mentally?
"Something that has worked really well this year is not thinking about it," he said, "hanging out with everyone on the team, pretending today never happened."
Another Waubonsie Valley swimmer who excelled was junior Lucas Conrads, who raced in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, but also placed third in the 500 freestyle in 4:31.24, almost 10 seconds faster than his seed time, and 10th in the 200 freestyle.
Junior Brian Knothe also took fifth in the 100 breaststroke in 56.70 seconds.
Waubonsie Valley seems to have the swagger needed to do damage Saturday.
"The team, we're pretty competitive as it is, so we came in here thinking we're the big dogs, and it's kind of nice to see everybody compete against other big teams," Conrads said. "Everyone is really excited to be here."
DuPage County had but two preliminary-round first-place finishers, and perhaps the most interesting was Naperville North junior Grant Bochenski in the 100 freestyle. Swimming in the second-to-last heat, he not only took first in 44.51, but lo and behold, he had the fastest time in the event.
Bochenski also took seventh in the 100 backstroke in 50.16, not to mention leading off the 200 medley relay that took eighth in 1:33.77, and racing second on the 200 freestyle relay, which also took eighth in 1:25.05.
"I've been focusing this season on my mental game," Bochenski said, "and I went into that heat and I knew I had fast guys on both sides of me, there was a fast heat before me, a fast heat after me. I just wanted to attack it. I wasn't really focusing on other people, I was focusing on myself."
Neuqua Valley junior Connor Boyle took third behind Bochenski in the 100 freestyle, finishing in 44.66 seconds, but he was better in the 50 freestyle, winning it in 20.01 seconds. Mental preparation was key for him as well.
"My mentality not only going into this meet, but almost every single meet is kind of not really being cocky, but believing," Boyle said. "It's just executing what I've been doing the past several months."
Lake Park was led by senior Ben Kimmel, who advanced to Saturday's finals in both the 100 butterfly, where he took sixth in 49.62 seconds, and the 100 backstroke, where he was just behind Bochenski, in eighth place in 50.16.
"Ben swam awesome, sixth place going into tomorrow. I think he can move up," Lake Park coach Dan Witteveen said. "I"m real proud of him. What you want to do is score on Saturday, and he did that, so that's good."
York was paced by senior Jay Jensen, who took ninth in the 500 freestyle in 4:37.11, two seconds faster than his seed time. He nearly made it to Saturday in the 200 individual medley, finishing 15th in 1:54.04.
"I just came into it, knowing what I needed to do to get back to tomorrow, and I just executed it perfectly," he said.
West Chicago-Batavia co-op got a solid swim out of junior Teegan Cook in the 100 butterfly, where he took 10th in 50.11 seconds. He also led off the 200 freestyle relay, which just managed to sneak into Saturday's final round with a 12th-place finish in 1:26.02. Cook was joined on that relay by Kyle Wolford, Gavin McCullough and Brian Culloton.
Naperville Central was led by senior Andrew Dai, who advanced by finishing eighth in the 100 butterfly.
In the 100 breaststroke, Timothy Christian senior Calvin Groenewold also managed to qualify for Saturday's final by finishing 12th in 58.02. Benet junior Jack Kobus wasn't as lucky, taking 14th in 58.08 seconds, making him an alternate.
"I didn't make the cut last year, so I'm happy to be here," Kobus said. "I thought my race went well. I gave it my all."
Junior Mitchell Hogan from the Wheaton co-op team was also had a bit of hard luck, just missing the cut in the 50 freestyle, finishing 15th in 21.22 seconds.