Boys swimming: Waubonsie Valley's Conrads treating this like a regular season
So what if the DuPage County boys swim and dive season is about half of what it normally is?
Swimmers like Waubonsie Valley senior Lucas Conrads aren't viewing it much different from the real McCoy.
"Even though we do have a shorter season, I'm still treating this as a regular season," said Conrads, a 200-yard and 500 freestyler who forms a solid one-two-three punch with fellow seniors Brian Knothe (100 breaststroke) and Elmer Weng (100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley).
"I think you can still get everything completed in the same amount of time," he said. "It depends on how hard you work. Overall, it might be a blessing in disguise."
The Warriors are 2-0 in DuPage Valley Conference duals behind the three seniors, and junior backstroker Arnov Deshpande. The wild card, though, is the depth provided by 12 freshmen, led by Keian Lam in the 500 freestyle -- Conrads' signature event.
"I'm trying him with Lucas and he's been side-by-side with him," coach Chris Hagenbaumer said. "In the next two or three years, I expect him to be lights out."
The true test will come Feb. 26 in a six-team meet at St. Charles North, where Waubonsie Valley will match up against the host North Stars and other area powers, including Neuqua Valley, St. Charles East, Naperville North and Naperville Central. Each team will field only six swimmers.
Tough schedule for Benet:
Nobody is envying Benet's schedule this winter. The Redwings, led by first-year coach Nelly Musso, have a dual meet schedule that features the four best teams in the Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference: St. Ignatius, Marmion, Loyola and Fenwick. Benet (0-1) will face Marmion and Loyola in a Friday triangular.
Don't get the sense that the Redwings are overmatched. There's senior Conner Hwang, who won the 100 backstroke against St. Ignatius and took second in the 100 butterfly. Ricky Maleczka is a specialist in the 500 freestyle and 200 individual medley, while Trevor Plotke specializes in the 50 free and 100 backstroke.
Musso said her crew is appreciative to even have a season. "This year being so strange," she said, "we see a lot of phrases like 'We get to.' Who do we get to race? Do we get to have practice on Monday?"
Added Plotke: "I know a lot of sports are up in the air. We're definitely grateful to have a season. I've dedicated a lot of my life to swimming and it's nice to have my senior year to swim."
We-Go shakes off the rust:
West Chicago is 2-0 in Upstate Eight duals, but it's been a challenge for coach Troy Murray and his charges, what with a two-month-long layoff.
"It's been a challenge for all the boys, given that they were struggling to find pool time," Murray said. "My approach was to try to keep the boys as positive as possible, and let them know we were going to have a season."
We-Go is another team with a powerful lineup that should benefit it at the conference meet it's hosting March 13. Senior Teegan Cook took 11th in state in the 100 butterfly a year ago, while another two other seniors made it to state but did not advance to the finals: Luke Wiesner (100 backstroke) and Will Herwig (100 butterfly and 200 individual medley).
Now add in a strong junior class led by Logan Townsend, and freshman Brady Johnson, a top state youth age group swimmer, and the Wildcats are tough.
"I think I got faster over break," said Townsend, who started a health club membership and swam five days a week. "Even though it was hard and demanding, I knew it would be worth it in the end."
Burau buoys Wheaton Co-op:
The best surprise for Wheaton Co-op coach Angela Shaw has been the emergence of junior Dylan Burau, and not just in his signature events of the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.
"He has stepped into that leadership role that I know he had in him," Shaw said. "He's created a positive team atmosphere in and out of the pool."
Burau, who won the 100 freestyle in 49.45 seconds in a recent triangular with Glenbard North and Lake Park, said leadership is becoming a strength.
"For me, my freshman and sophomore year, I had two great seniors that led the team, and I took their example of upping the varsity and junior varsity team at meets," said Burau, who attends Wheaton Warrenville South.
Wheaton is 3-1 in the DuKane Conference, and will face Bartlett on Friday and West Chicago and Marmion on Saturday. Like her coaching counterparts, Shaw said her guys are happy to simply be in the water racing.
"The opportunity to get on the blocks and race against other boys in our conference, there's been a lot of joy," she said. "You can see it in their body language."