Boys swimming: Goettsch stars at sectional for Naperville Central; Waubonsie takes team title

Saturday was all about hope.

For the seniors at the Neuqua Valley boys sectional swim and dive meet, Saturday represented the hope of one more chance to get to the IHSA state meet next weekend at FMC Natatorium in Westmont.

For many of the underclassmen, the hope was simply to advance to state for the first time.

And for everyone, no matter what class or skill level, it was the hope for one more week of practice.

Naperville Central sophomore Max Goettsch, who admitted he had a tough sectional meet a year ago, advanced to state for the first time in four events - all winners. He won the 50-yard and 100 freestyle, in 21.15 seconds and 46.05 seconds, respectively. He joined forces with Matt Johnson, Alex Lakin and Sam Lendzion to win the 200 medley relay (1:33.65) and later did the same with Aaron Hunter, Quinten Sanders and Lakin in the 200 freestyle relay (1:24.94).

"I think it was just knowing throughout the season we've done more than all these teams and it pays off in the end," Goettsch said. "You just have to believe in how it works."

All told, the Redhawks advanced all three relays and five individuals. Not bad; according to coach Mike Adams, the strategy was to keep the sectional low-key in the days leading up to it.

"You live and die with every swim," Adams said. "You're with the boys for 14 weeks, they give you everything and want them to do well and try to prepare them the best way."

Naperville Central took second with 227 points, a shade behind Waubonsie Valley at 245.50, which won its first team sectional since 1996.

The Warriors got several great swims out of junior Keian Lam, who played the wild card in the 200 individual medley, winning that in 1:51.05, defeating the always-tough Jaeddan Gamilla of Metea Valley (1:52.65).

Later, in the 100 breaststroke, which Lakin won in 56.35, Lam won the third of four heats and slipped into state in that event by just beating the qualifying time at 58.55. Not an easy thing to do.

"I really worked on swimming by myself, and not depending on the other people around me," Lam said. "I think about my technique and my race strategy."

Waubonsie Valley qualified all three relays along with nine individuals, which guaranteed a strong representation at state. That left coach Chris Hagenbaumer beaming.

"It's one of those things where, we're not resting for today, we're resting for next weekend," he said. "We're rested and ready for next weekend, and that is what we started our season with and what we'll end our season with."

Neuqua Valley was fifth with 160 points, a stone's throw behind Oswego East. One, two, three, four - that's how many state berths were recorded by senior Dima Kondrashev. He qualified in the 50 freestyle (21.47), the 100 freestyle (46.62) and the 200 and 400 relays.

How would he counsel kids like Goettsch who will be going to state for the first time?

"Just really stay focused, from now until state, I think it's very important to focus on your sleep, focusing on what you're eating," he said. "Focusing on the little things and concentrating on the end goal, which is dropping as much time at state."

Hagenbaumer, too, had a little advice.

"You've got to live in the moment," he said. "You got to take one day at a time, because when you get there, you're going to see times that are so mind boggling because you've never done them in your life."

Marmion was third with 177 points and also qualified all three relays, winning the meet-ending 400 freestyle relay in 3:08.40. That group consisted of sophomore Evan Conti, seniors Tyler Conner and Sean Wehner, and freshman Ethan Schrader.

Wehner also won the 100 butterfly in 50.58, while Conti was top dog in the 100 backstroke in 50.39. Wehner finished third in that event in 50.61. They both went to state a year ago, but this time it's different.

"This year I'm tapering for state instead of sectionals, so I think that's definitely a difference," Wehner said. "This will be my second time at state, and hopefully my second time in the finals."

Added Conti: "This was arguably the best meet of my life, so I think I'm going to go in the same way I did today."

Oswego East checked in at fourth place at 165.50, and was led by sophomore diver Tony Hintz, who won that event with 412.35 points.

"I knew that I was going to have stiff competition from both of the Central kids," Hintz said, who advanced to the sectional, and consequently state, for the first time. How will he prepare? "I'm going to do a lot of twisters in practice. State, I hope I get past first cuts."

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