Boys swimming: Scouting the 2021-2022 season in Lake County
Barrington BroncosCoach: John Valentine (11th season)
Top swimmers: Griffin O'Leary, sr., (fly, back), Judd Baron, Jr, (breast, fly), Rylan Anselm, soph., (200, 500), Adam Gaffney, soph., (100, fly)
Top new swimmers: Luke Bucaro, fresh., (IM, 200, 500), Will Guo, fresh., (fly, 200)
Outlook: O'Leary, headed to the University of Southern California to swim, was a 2020 all-American and is a six-time MSL individual champion who set multiple school and pool records in 2020. "We are fortunate to have Griffin for his senior year," Valentine said. "In addition to being one of the fastest swimmers in Illinois, he leads the team every day in practice, the weight room and teaching others how to be a leader. He is a rock star who dominates races from the start." Barrington has nine freshmen or sophomores on the varsity. Krish Patel leads the diving team. Valentine noted the medley and 400 relay teams will be tough to beat, while the 200 relay continues to improve with Bucaro the strength of the team's relays. Valentine also is high on Guo, also known as "Mighty Mouse." "Will is diminutive in stature, but beats older teammates every day in practice -- just ask his senior teammate and brother, Dylan." Valentine noted another calling card for the Broncos is great team chemistry. "In addition to racing each other during hard sets, they really do enjoy cheering their teammates on at meets," he explained. "Younger athletes are treated well, which will help us for many seasons to come." Valentine said Fremd will be tough in the MSL, while multiple MSL East teams, he added, will have top-tier individual swimmers. Barrington started the season with a win against Hersey and a second-place finish at the Barrington quad meet.
Libertyville WildcatsCoach: Michael Cunningham (4th season)
Top swimmers: Ed Steward (fly, 500), Nicholas Ozimek (back, breast, 200, IM), Matt Early (breast), Shreyas Srirama, Chandra Mooran
Outlook: Cunningham said the Wildcats are hard at work in and out the pool. "We are a developing and growing team," he said. "What I like most about this group is the diversity and overall dedication to the team and each other." Cunningham said another key strength will be its relays. In terms of the North Suburban Conference race, Cunningham noted Stevenson and Mundelein are the favorites.
Mundelein MustangsCoach: Rahul Sethna (14th season)
Top returning swimmers: Omar Fathallah, sr., (sprints), Michael Romero, sr., (breast, fly, IM), Aaron Anastos, sr., (200 free, relays), Cameron Gilbert, sr., (back, IM), Dominick Fidanze, sr., (breast, IM), Johnathan Anno, Jr, (diving), Eddie Serrano, Jr, (200, 500), Matt Willis, Jr, (500, back), David Tatevosian, Jr, (fly, IM), Alex Sethna, soph., (breast, 100, IM), Zach Gonzalez, soph., (fly, 50)
Top new swimmers: Ayesh Chandrasekera, sr., Marcus Gallegos, sr., Alan Fox, sr., Anthony Petrashko, sr., Ethan Trankalov, Jr, Jacob Hall, soph., Trey Halas, fresh., Tovi Kharpak, fresh., (diving, swimming), Joey Kafka, fresh., (diving)
Outlook: A lot going on for Mundelein. Fathallah, Sethna noted, is one of the top sprinters in the state and is a state title contender in the 100, plus a possibility to final in two individuals. He medaled his first two years at state and will be a key relay component. Romero is a state qualifier in the breast, fly and IM. Sethna said he also has a chance to medal at state in the breast and fly, and is another relay mainstay. Anastos is a state qualifier in the 200 and in the relays with Sethna labeling him one of the top mid-distance freestylers in the area. Sethna would like to see the Mustangs get two relays to the state finals. "Last year was probably our deepest team we ever had, which had a mix of top-end speed and fast, balanced depth," Sethna said. "This year, we are probably not as deep, but we are a potential Top 10 team at state. Our front line swimmers will carry the boat in most meets, but we need our other younger guys to step up and carry the boat if we want to be successful at the dual and invite level." Mundelein, a sectional champion two years ago, is ranked eighth in one preseason poll.
Stevenson PatriotsCoach: Doug Lillydahl (17th season)
Last year's finish: North Suburban Conference champions
Top returning swimmers: Brian Povilus, sr., Josh Song, sr., (fly), Brandon Xiong, sr., (50), Jack White, sr., (diving), Lance Bi, Jr, Jack Curtin, Jr, Jonny Farber, Jr, (back), David Kohan, Jr, Kunal Rajadhyax, Jr, Danny Silverstein, Jr, Michael Wywrocki, Jr, Olin Kusevskis, soph., Liam Plautz, soph., Diego Rosario-Frevtes, soph., Tim Yu, Colin Zhang.
Top new swimmers: Maxim Kolabunov, fresh., Felix Wang, fresh.
Outlook: White took sixth in the state in diving in 2020, while Song was eighth in the fly in 2020. Farber qualified for state in the backstroke, while Xiong was a 50 free qualifier two years ago. Stevenson placed in the Top 8 at state from 2017-2020. "We are heading into this year with many fresh faces who are eager for opportunities to reach the top of swimming in Illinois," Lillydahl said. "While we didn't have an opportunity to come together as swimming family and hold a state meet last year, we know that our performances last year kept us among the top programs in the state. Knowing how many of our boys worked hard and kept eating and growing over the nine months since our last season, we are in a position to challenge any team in the state. Honestly, this team reminds me of the last two teams to earn a state trophy back in 2002-2004 when we were state runner-up twice. We know that we have to enjoy the journey and focus on the process -- and the results will take care of themselves." Lillydahl feels Song, Zhang, White, Sliverstein, Farber and Kohan have good shots at being all-state swimmers this season. Stevenson hosted the Patriot relays last weekend, winning the meet and setting six meet records in the process. Lillydahl noted this will be the first year the IHSA state meet will be held at the state-of-the-art FMC Natatorium in Westmont after conducting the meet at Evanston and New Trier since the 1930s.
Warren Blue DevilsCoach: Chris Bertana (13th season)
Top returning swimmers: Evan Berndt, sr., (breast, sprint free), Blake Vander Jeudgt, sr., (diver), Jake Snyder, sr., (spring free), Ryan Sundberg, sr., (distance free)
Top new swimmers: Evan DiVito, fresh., (breast, all-around), Billy Lawler, soph. (distance free)
Outlook: This will be Bertana's final season at the helm. Warren has 36 swimmers in the program, including 11 seniors. Berndt is a four-year varsity swimmer looking for a first state berth. Vander Jeudgt, headed to Division-I IUPUI in Indianapolis, is looking to break into the Top 5 at state, Bertana noted. He was ranked ninth last year by the Illinois Coaches Association. Berndt, Vander Jeudgt and Sundberg are captains. Lawler is a transfer from Highland Park. "Our focus this season is on working hard and looking forward to the best possible outcomes," Bertana said. "We are coming in mostly out of shape, but with hard work we can do great things. We hope to be able t get some swimmers to state, but are very excited to see what Blake can do at state."