Boys swimming: SCN's Filipovic puts himself in good position on opening day at state

 
By Gregg Voss
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/25/2022 9:30 PM

Admittedly, St. Charles North senior Aleksej Filipovic has had some ups and downs this season, but right now he appears to be cresting.

That's bad news for his opponents Saturday at the boys swimming and diving state championship finals at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont.

 

Filipovic easily cruised to first place in the 200-yard individual medley at Friday's preliminaries with a time of 1:46.43, beating Metea Valley junior Jaeddan Gamilla by nearly 2 seconds (1:48.21). That time put him within spitting distance of the state record of 1:46.02, set by Glenbrook South's Sam Iida in 2017.

Filipovic also finished second in the 100 butterfly with a time of 47.95 seconds, just .05 behind Barrington senior Griffin O'Leary. And just for fun, he also raced legs on two relays that advanced to the championship finals in the 200 medley relay (fourth in 1:32.98) and the 200 freestyle relay (sixth in 1:24.78).

Do the math. He's got a legit shot at a possible four state titles Saturday.

"I had some rough points in the season, but now I'm feeling really good," Filipovic said. "The 200 IM, the first 150 was perfect, but I had some time to make up in the last 50, and I will make it up in the last 50 tomorrow."

That determination sticks out to his coach, Rob Rooney.

"He's a great young man," Rooney said. "Alek, he's talented, but he's got races tomorrow. I mean, the kid from Metea is good, the fly is really tight. He chose probably, in my opinion, the toughest race in the state, the 100 fly, with the people in it."

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Cary-Grove, led by senior Ben Castro, had a banner day at Friday's preliminaries, grabbing 11th place in the 200 medley relay (1:34.82). Castro was joined on that relay by sophomore William Watson, Kasparas Venslauskas and senior Kameron Fadden.

Castro also advanced to the championship finals in the 100 butterfly, taking fifth in 49.16, and raced a leg, along with Watson Fadden and Dexter Zielinski, in the 400 freestyle relay, seventh in 3:07.86.

The butterfly is not an easy event. What's his secret?

"You kick as fast as you can underwater," he said. "That's what it's kind of turned into, and you have to adapt."

South Elgin had but one swimmer participating in Friday's preliminaries, but that swimmer, senior Domenico Schlueter, made the most of his time in the water by finishing 12th in the 100 freestyle with a time of 46.51, thus advancing him to Saturday's consolation finals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Coming in, I was pretty nervous," Schlueter said. "A lot of fast swimming here, the energy is insane, the odds of making finals are extremely low, the odds of just being here are extremely low. "

St. Charles East was paced by sophomore Kyle Algrim, who qualified for Saturday's consolation round by taking 12th in the 500 freestyle in 4:36.24, just a hair behind fellow soph from Neuqua Valley, Alex Parkinson (4:35.40).

Marmion Academy got a good swim out of junior Sean Wehner in the 100 backstroke, finishing ninth in 50.71.

Of course, for the seniors who made it to Friday's preliminaries but didn't advance to Saturday, the taste was bittersweet. Consider Marmion's Jackson Oostman, who just missed the consolation cut in the 200 IM with a time of 1:54.25, placing him 17th.

"I'm not upset," Oostman insisted with a smile. "I mean, I went a couple of best times today. It's OK. It is what it is."

What will he remember most about high school swimming?

"What I'm going to remember most is my teammates," he said. "We're like a family. I know I can rely on them for anything, I can talk to them about anything. I'm really going to miss these guys."

Added St. Charles East senior Jack Redden, who went to state as a freshman and sophomore: "I'm happy I made it here. I feel like it was a great opportunity to learn."

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