Boys swimming: Scouting Cook and Lake County

  • Stevenson's Olin Kusevskis swims the 400 medley relay Saturday at the Patriot Relays in Lincolnshire. Stevenson enters the season as the defending state champion.

      Stevenson's Olin Kusevskis swims the 400 medley relay Saturday at the Patriot Relays in Lincolnshire. Stevenson enters the season as the defending state champion. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine's Matt Stepp is one of the area's top returning swimmers.

      Palatine's Matt Stepp is one of the area's top returning swimmers. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Fremd's Jaden Heinlein is one of the area's top returning swimmers.

      Fremd's Jaden Heinlein is one of the area's top returning swimmers. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

By Dave Hess
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/5/2022 7:20 PM

Can the Stevenson Patriots boys swimming team repeat as state champs?

The answer to that question is a resounding yes.


Despite loss of Jack White (second diving, Northwestern), Josh Song (third, 100 fly, Division III Dennison) and Brandon Xiong (11th 50 free, member of 200 freestyle relay state title team, Division III Bates), the Patriots have plenty of talent and experience to win a second straight state championship.

Under the guidance of 18th year coach Doug Lillydahl, the Patriots return 8 state qualifiers and 18 total swimmers with varsity experience from the defending state champs who scored 167 points. Hinsdale Central was a distant second with 118 points.

"This is a different team with 3 state finalists graduated," said the veteran Patriots coach. "We have to have tunnel vision. We have to develop a new identity. We have to look at this season as an opportunity not pressure. We have a lot of talent returning with experience. We plan to be in the mix to defend our title."

The top swimmer returning for the Pats is junior Colin Zhang, who is defending state champ in the 100 breaststroke and runner-up in the 200 Intermediate. He was a member of the state 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay championship teams.

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Senior state qualifiers back are David Kohan (200 free relay state title team, 200 medley relay state title, 7th 50 freestyle), Jack Curtin (200 free state title team), Michael Wywrocki (state title 200 medley relay, sixth 200 intermediate, 10th backstroke), Doug Silverstein (10th diving), Lance Bi (100 breaststroke state qualifier) and Johnny Farber (100 freestyle state qualifier).

Junior Diego Rosario Freytes is a state qualifier in the 100 butterfly.

Others returning with varsity experience are seniors David Badarch, Jack Motl and Kunal Rajadhyax, juniors Olin Kusevskis and Liam Plantz along with sophomores Jared Carollo, Maxim Kolabunov, Tim Rhee, Sirui Wang, and Felix Wang. Freshmen Kyler Chou and Josh Wang are newcomers for the defending state champs.

"None of the top teams took a step back," said coach Lillydahl. "We need to take a step back and enjoy the journey. We need to focus on the process and the results will take care of themselves."

Barrington's 2022 100 backstroke state champion Griffin O'Leary has taken his talents to UCLA. But, Barrington coach John Valentine returns 6 swimmers and expects a solid season.


Sophomore Luke Buccaro placed 12th in the 50 freestyle. Returners for the Broncos are senior Judd Baron, juniors Rylan Anselm, Adam Gaffney and Nolan Glute along with sophomore Evan Kissack. Sophomore Alex Scott and freshman Payton Cotner are newcomers.

"We want to have fun and get faster," said Valentine.

Buffalo Grove returns senior Holden Wheeler who was eighth in the state in diving. Junior Edgar Ratkauskas was a state qualifier in the 200 intermediate and 100 breaststroke. Others back for coach Tom Cooney are seniors Tucker Dombroski and Luke Czeryba along with junior Matt Olaru and sophomore Nolan Smith.

"We have a large turnout," said Cooney. "It is exciting. We want to build on success from previous seasons. We are trying to build a positive culture."

Conant junior Bryce Loegger returns as a state qualifier in the 50 freestyle.

Others with experience for the Cougars are seniors William Erne, Danny Kotchev, Yuuki Sato and Kailey Visitachion. Newcomers seeking pool time are senior Sato Cohen and Carlos Matteo along with junior Evan Carpenter and sophomores Yimmy Caicedo, Marcel Komeza, Jayden Tu and Carl Wang.

"We have a great group of experienced swimmers," said coach Brian Drenth. "We have some promising newcomers. We want to have a positive vibe and be competitive."

Back for Fremd are seniors Ben Mears (15th diving), Kurt Pennell (19th place, 200 medley relay) and Aurelien Laffant (19th place 200 medley relay) along with juniors Jaden Heinlein (7th 200 intermediate, 21st 100 breaststroke, 19th 200 medley) and Sean Grady (Athletes with Disabilities, state qualifier, 200 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 breastroke).

Others with varsity experience are seniors Andrew Di and junior Kyler Bragel along with sophomores Tyler Franke and Copper Hewson.

"The juniors and seniors have a lot of goals," said coach Andrew Adams. "We want to improve in every aspect. We want to break some team records. We have a strong future."

Grayslake Central returns junior David Knapp. Coach Kristine Breault welcomes freshmen Peyton Singson and Max Shores to the program.

Back for Hoffman Estates are seniors Jay Ryan Cuartero, Kean D'Souza and Leo Ramirez Guittierez, junior Gabe Meyers and sophomores Shane Cantwell and Alex Morel.

Newcomers include sophomores Matija Hedosi, Troy Johnson, Pawel Nocko, and Danny Lopez.

"We want the newcomers to compete and Leo to have a chance to qualify for the state meet," said coach Adam Longo.

Maine South has 5 returning place-winners from the 2022 state meet: seniors Bart Kubic (15th 100 breaststroke), Ljubomir Popovic (18th 100 backstroke) and Zach Chapovalov (27th 500 freestyle), and juniors Dominic Mazurek (13th 100 intermediate, 14th 100 backstroke) and Sam Sacor (28th 100 backstroke).

Also back with varsity experience are senior Charlie Doubleday, juniors Danilo Marsenic and Max Federenko along with sophomores Dragos Cozma and Sean Forrest.

Newcomers vying for time are senior Reed Kuczora, juniors Clark Simpson and Mason Par along with sophomore Alex Przeketa and freshman Kaleb Larkin.

"We want to qualify individuals, relays and divers into Saturday's (state) finals," said coach Don Kura. "We want to compete with effort and intensity every practice and meet."

Palatine coach Kathryn Mroz returns seniors Matt Stepp, Cayden Hilgers and Shion Takashim. Junior Kriz Szult also is back for the Pirates.

Newcomers hoping to make a splash are freshmen Kyle Carlson and Sam Piazza.

"It is a rebuilding year," said Mroz. "We lost a strong senior class. I can't wait to see where this team goes. The upperclassmen are excellent leaders. They are making sure the new athletes are part of the team culture. We have a ton of potential with 45 sophomores and freshmen in the program."

Szymon Mieczowski, 12th in the 100 backstroke a year ago, leads Schaumburg who finished 17th in the state. Seniors Andrew Georgescu, Patrick Dima and Dennis Bobiv return.

"It should be an exciting season," said Schaumburg coach Sam Gabriel. "We are poised to continue to climb as a program."

St. Viator has 4 returners in juniors Evan Collins, Ben Chapin, Joaquin Ignacio and Dylan Chudy. Freshman Tim Dillon is a newcomer to watch.

Vernon Hills coach Jim Pardun returns 14 swimmers with varsity experience: seniors Brian Li, Chris Ramirez Perez and Jacob Schifrin, juniors Emmitt Brown Richardson, Aidan Kamal, Charlie Karston, Andrew Laborevitch, Gavin Mansfield, Eli Spivak and Edward Zhao, and sophomores Alex Gong, Will Rendall, Dan Berke and Sammy Ryniec.

"We have a young talented team," said Pardun. "We would like to get a handful of divers and swimmers as state qualifiers."

Warren, 33rd in the state a year ago, returns juniors Daniel Garcia and Vasilly Lawing along with sophomores Evan DeVito and Sam Foster.

Newcomers include senior William Bairstow, juniors Tyler Christensen and Alexs Yonchev and Brandon Morales.

"It will be a transition year," said coach Kim Lobitz. "We have a lot of untapped potential. We want to return to the state meet in February with swimmers."

Boys swimming at a glance

Top teams: Stevenson, Fremd, Maine South, Schaumburg, Buffalo Grove, Conant, Barrington

Returning state qualifiers: Lance Bi (Stevenson), Sr; Jack Curtin (Stevenson), Sr; Johnny Farber (Stevenson), Sr; David Kohan (Stevenson), Sr; Danny Silverstein (Stevenson), Sr; Michael Wywrocki (Stevenson), Sr; Colin Zhang (Stevenson), Jr; Diego Rosario-Freytes (Stevenson), Jr; Ben Mears (Fremd), Sr; Kurt Pennell (Fremd), Sr; Aurelien Laffont (Fremd), Sr; Sean Grady (Fremd), Jr; Jaden Heinlein (Fremd), Bart Kubic (Maine South), Sr; Ljubomir Popovic (Maine South), Sr; Zach Chapovalov (Maine South), Sr; Dominic Mazurek (Maine South), Jr; Sam Sacor (Maine South), Jr.; Szymon Mieczowski (Maine South), Jr.; Edgar Ratkuaskas (Buffalo Grove), Jr; Holden Wheeler (Buffalo Grove), Sr; Bryce Loegger (Conant), Jr; Luke Buccaro (Barrington), So.

Top invitationals: Patriot Invitational; Maine South Relays, Evanston Invitational, Lake County Invitational.

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