Boys swimming: Hinsdale Central dominates state meet
It's a little hard to believe Alex Parkinson and Brady Johnson are only juniors.
That means they are only going to improve, maximizing their chances at repeating as state champions in their respective events.
Neuqua Valley's Parkinson won the marathon 500-yard freestyle in 4:29.39 at Saturday's championship finals of the IHSA boys state swimming and diving meet at FMC Natatorium in Westmont.
Johnson, from West Chicago, won the 100 backstroke in a comfortable 48.08 seconds. He also took second in the 50 freestyle in 20.50, just .16 away from winner Kevin Obochi from Highland Park.
"I'm very happy about it," Johnson said. "Last year I got third. I only dropped .01 from yesterday, but I'm super happy about it. Obviously going into senior year, 47.22 is going to be the goal, break that state record."
Parkinson barely smiled as he spoke about his race. Talk about determination.
"It kind of happened after yesterday," he said. "I dropped a lot of time yesterday, and my main goal for the entire season was to beat (former teammate) Aiden Dunn's old time, the school record, and yesterday I beat that. Today, I just went into this with the mindset, I'm going to give it all I've got."
While it's true Parkinson and Johnson were impressive, the buzz Saturday was about the dominance of Hinsdale Central, which won the state team title with 253 points, well ahead of New Trier's 134.
How tough were the Red Devils? Not only did they win all three relays -- the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle -- they set state records in all three.
Want more? Junior Jeffrey Hou and sophomore Josh Bey went 1-2 in the 200 individual medley, with Hou going 1:47.49 and Bey 1:48.91. Hou also took second in the 100 butterfly in 47.83, while Bey won the 100 breaststroke in 54.51, with senior Andrew Fix fifth in 55.76.
"We come in every day to practice ready to go into it," Bey said. "Our mentality is just a lot different from a lot of these other teams. They kind of see themselves as, Let's see what we can do. But for us, it's not, Let's see what we can do, it's, Let's see how much we can win."
Coach Bob Barber, usually a relatively reserved man, was beaming post-meet. Had he seen a more dominant performance at state? Well, yes.
"Only by the older Hinsdale teams," he said. "You put the 70s up there, and we try to battle."
The 100 breaststroke was, locally, the most interesting race. Bey won, Naperville Central senior Alex Lakin was second (54.81), Metea Valley senior Jaeddan Gamilla was third (55.16), Naperville North junior Jonathan Wang was fourth (55.75) and Fix was fifth.
In the consolation race, Waubonsie Valley senior Ethan Huynh was seventh (56.31) and junior Keian Lam was eighth (56.39).
"My main goal this year was to just show these underclassmen what swimming is all about and hard work and dedication," Gamilla said. "That's one thing I wanted to leave behind, how I impacted their seasons."
Oswego sophomore Chase Maier took third in the 500 freestyle at 4:30.29. Now, that's a marathon event, but it's no sweat for Maier -- in the club season, he'll swim a mile at a time.
"I wanted to go out decently fast, because you always want to go our faster, because it's easy time off your swim, and then maintain the pace throughout," Maier said.
And what's swimming a mile like?
"You swim for 15 minutes," he said with a smile. Enough said.
It was the end of the line for a lot of seniors Saturday, but they'll leave with lifetime memories. Take Benet's Jack Larson, who took ninth in the 100 freestyle in 46.24. Larson is off to Purdue next fall, so his game plan is to swim club until the end of the summer. And then?
"As of right now, I think I'm going to swim it out and then we'll see where it goes," he said.
Downers Grove North's Aiden Musso -- whose mom is Benet coach Nelly Musso -- won the consolation heat of the 50 freestyle. What will he remember about state?
"It's really exciting, it's a very different experience than the dual meets in our little pool that we have," he said.
Another team that made some serious noise was the Cary-Grove co-op, consisting of swimmers from that school, Prairie Ridge and Crystal Lake South and Central.
Senior Danial Sanahurskyj led the team with by tying for fifth place with Stevenson's Michael Wyrocki at 49.53. He, junior Drew Watson, Connor Chan and senior Dexter Zielinski came in 10th in the 200 medley relay (1:34.82), while Watson took 10th in the 100 backstroke (50.40).
"I definitely knew I wanted to be here at the state meet," Sanahurskyj said of his primary preseason thoughts. "I don't really have any set goals, except for team and bigger goals, and show the state of Illinois what Cary-Grove swimming is about."
Added Watson: "I think we did a great job representing our schools. Our medley, that's our big race as a team, and we try to qualify that every year."