Boys swimming: Stevenson fights through adversity, takes 3rd in state
For everything the Stevenson boys swimming and diving team went through late this season, Saturday was a little redemption.
After bouts with sickness that ran rampant through the team a couple of weeks ago, the Patriots were able to bounce back at the finals of the IHSA boys swimming and diving meet at FMC Natatorium in Westmont. They took third as a team with 122.50 points, nearly catching New Trier, second with 134. Hinsdale Central won the team title with a whopping 253 points.
"Any time you can still fight all the way through, that's a little redemption, you know?" coach Doug Lillydahl said. "It's so impressive, it was great to see the guys step up and play their role."
Stevenson kicked off the championship finals by taking second in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:31.98, a group consisting of senior Michael Wyrocki, junior Colin Zhang, junior Diego Rosario-Freytes and David Kohan. Zhang would go on to finish fifth in the 200 individual medley (1:50.14) and sixth in the 100 breaststroke (55.93).
It was nice for the Patriots to bounce back from adversity, said senior Jack Curtin, who joined up with Zhang, Rosario-Freytes and Liam Plautz to take third in the meet-ending 400 freestyle relay at 3:04.51.
"We had a tough sectional, a lot of the swimmers on our team were sick, and really going into state we were just trying to redeem ourselves and prove that's not who we were," Curtin said.
Schaumburg junior Szymon Mieczkowski had a banner day, taking the runner-up position behind West Chicago's Brady Johnson in the 100 backstroke in 49.22. He was a shade ahead of Fremd junior Jaden Heinlein, third in 49.75.
Mieczkowski made it pretty clear what his main swimming goal is now that high school season is over and club season begins.
"To beat him," he said with a smile as pointed to Johnson, who returned the smile.
Barrington's Rylan Anselm and Lucas Bucaro both made noise in their championship finals showings. Anselm finished fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:39.06), while Bucaro was sixth in the 200 individual medley (1:50.95). They both swam the 500 freestyle, with Anselm finishing fourth (4:30.44) and Bucaro sixth (4:35.45).
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 pre-season 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."
There was a major battle for supremacy in the diving portion of the meet, but ending up on top was Glenbrook North sophomore Matthew Yuan, who finished with 538.30 points. He was just ahead of Highland Park's Noam Kulbak (527.75) and Homewood-Flossmoor's Christian Curtis (523.55).
"My mentality, I guess it was just trying to stay calm, make sure I'm ready for my dives," Yuan said. "If you get scared, you mess up. When you know a state championship on the line, it's really scary, but you take a few deep breaths."
Junior Kyren Whiting from Rolling Meadows was fourth in diving (507.65), while Stevenson's Danny Silverstein took sixth (474.95).