Boys swimming: Defending champ Stevenson rolls to sectional title
After rolling to the 2022 IHSA state championship by a comfortable 167 to 117.5 margin over Hinsdale Central last year, the Stevenson boys swimming team continued to dominate Saturday at the Lake Forest sectional.
The No. 2-ranked Patriots were a dominant force in the 12-team field as they toppled runner-up squad Glenbrook North 304 to 232 for the team title while Highland Park was a distant third with 184 points. Vernon Hills (141 points) had a solid sixth-place showing followed by Mundelein (77 points) in seventh, and Libertyville (63.5 points) in eighth.
The top finisher in every event Saturday as well as anyone who beat the predetermined state cut-off times all advanced to the state meet next weekend.
"We're coming off winning the state meet last year, so we knew this was an important steppingstone for winning the state meet next week," said Stevenson coach Doug Lillydahl, whose team will have a huge obstacle against No. 1-ranked Hinsdale Central next weekend at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont. "We've had several people really grow into contention for their races so that is great to see that happen and the kids have stepped up to the challenge."
Senior Jonny Farber was one of the many key contributors for the Patriots as he won both the 200 freestyle in 1:40.95, and the 100 freestyle in 46.17. Stevenson junior Colin Zhang was also a double winner as he won the 200 IM in 1:51.62 as well as the 100 breastroke in 57.28.
Stevenson's depth continued to shine with Olin Kusevskis capturing first place in the 500 freestyle in 4:45.82 while teammate Michael Wywrocki won the 100 backstroke in 51.15. The Pats' 200 medley relay team of Zhang, Wywrocki, David Kohan and Diego Rosario-Freytes were also winners.
Stevenson senior Jack Motl advanced to state for the first time as an at-large qualifier in the 200 IM.
"I'm very excited about it because if I didn't qualify it would be my last race," said Motl. "I think we have a good shot (at state). We just have to leave it in the pool, and not focus on the other teams."
Glenbrook North closed out the day in style as the Spartans' 400-freestyle relay team of Jake Walker, Josh Hyun, Gabe Frank and Makoto Majoros took first in 3:09.06 to edge the runner-up Pats by .89 seconds.
"That (400-freestyle relay team) was a surprise. It was just off our school record in that event," said Glenbrook North coach Jarod Schroeder. "And we should be faster next week."
Vernon Hills had numerous state qualifiers, including junior Edward Zhao in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle, and teammate Dan Berke in the 100 butterfly.
"He (Zhao) is the most versatile. We can put him in just about any event and his mindset is solid," said Vernon Hills coach Jim Pardun, whose 200 medley relay team placed second. "Dan Berke and Will Rendall are sophomores, so they are going to see the big game, and see what it's all about (at state)."
Libertyville freshman Enzo Desviat will also gain valuable experience after reaching state in both the 50 and 100-freestyle events.
"He (Desviat) had some great swims, and he has room to get better next week," said Libertyville coach Greg Herman. "So everything we hoped would happen did happen today, and he will get some experience at the state meet."
Glenbrook North's Matthew Yuan placed second in the diving competition with 583.55 points while Stevenson's Danny Silverstein (524.95) placed third. Mundelein's Edwin Serrano (1:41.97) made the cut for state in the 200 freestyle while Walker and Stevenson's Jack Curtin advanced in the 100 freestyle. The Spartans' Evan Gitlevich and Stevenson's Sirui Wang advanced in the 100 breastroke.