Boys swimming: Depth sends Stevenson to another NSC crown
Behold the ridiculously high number of Stevenson swimmers -- varsity and junior varsity, combined -- able to clock a time under 22 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle.
That's akin to having 12 standout cheetahs on your Fantasy Wildlife Team.
"It's silly," Patriots coach Doug Lillydahl admitted at Saturday's North Suburban Conference boys swimming meet at Stevenson.
Another figure that induced eyeballs to pop: 10. Lillydahl's reigning state title crew won that many events -- out of 12 -- and amassed 346 points en route to capturing the program's eighth straight NSC championship.
"You should see us practice," said Stevenson senior Jonny Farber, who went 4-for-4, touching first in the 200-yard freestyle (1:45.35) and 100 backstroke (50.55) and helping the 200 free relay (1:26.21) and 400 free relay (3:09.57) units garner gold.
"We're all competitive in-between meets," the Boston University recruit added. "That makes us better."
The NSC JV boys swimming meet was held concurrently Saturday in Lincolnshire. Victorious Stevenson JVers, incredibly, swam better times in the 50 free (21.41, Andrew Mossman), 100 free (46.43, Maxime LaPointe St-Georges) and 200 free (1:44.27, Kunal Rajadhyax) than their varsity counterparts did. Yes, they had tapered for the meet, unlike the varsity boys. But still.
LaPointe St-Georges' personal-best time in the 100 free Saturday was more swift than that of the 10th-place time at last winter's varsity state meet.
"I was fired up, determined, after finishing second (by three one-hundredths of a second) to my friend (Mossman) in the 50 free," LaPointe St-Georges said after the final meet of his career. "The 46 I swam today surprised me, considering I didn't swim club in the offseason. We all push each other on this team.
"It's insane how many fast guys we have."
Lake Forest (251 points) finished runner-up at longtime Scouts coach Cindy Dell's final NSC meet. Mundelein (208) placed third, followed by Libertyville (200), Warren (172), Zion-Benton (69) and Waukegan (18). A handful of Lake Zurich Bears hit the water.
Stevenson's reigning 100 breaststroke state champion, junior Colin Zhang, also exited the Pats' pool deck with four top prizes, after topping the 200 IM (1:55.25) and 100 free (47.93) fields and churning for the triumphant 200 medley (1:35.88) and 400 free relays.
Mate Denis Curtin sped to a first-place 1:00.53 in the 100 breast and anchored the 200 medley and 200 free quartets. Stevenson's Diego Rosario-Freytes (another two-time relay champ) had entered the meet with the top seed time of 51.11 in the 100 butterfly and hit the final wall in ... 51.11.
Patriots senior Danny Silverstein one-upped his surname, taking the gold in diving with a 479.65-point performance. Libertyville staged the NSC diving segment Friday night.
Silverstein nailed his inward-2-and-a-half (degree of difficulty: 3.1), a plunge he hadn't attempted last season, when he placed 10th at state.
"I'm trying to have more fun this season, because it might be my last as a competitive diver," he said.
But Silverstein and everybody else in the program take the team's 2022-23 motto, "Tunnel Vision," seriously.
"Winning's great, sure, but so is staying focused and improving, whether it's going a second faster in a race or gaining a point on a dive," Silverstein said.
Stevenson's David Kohan (200 free, 400 free), Michael Wywrocki (200 medley) and Liam Plautz (200 free) also surfaced as championship relay members Saturday.
Libertyville freshman water dart Enzo Desviat -- also a striker in soccer who could easily pass for a middle linebacker in football -- snapped Stevenson's meet-opening event winning streak at four, zipping to a 21.7 to best a 50-free field that featured four sub-22-second entrants.
"It's quick, easy," the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Wildcat said of the sprint. "It helps to be explosive and aggressive.
"The event," he continued, "suits me perfectly."
Added Libertyville coach Greg Herman: "Enzo is learning how to do the right things, and he doesn't get overwhelmed in big moments. It'll be exciting to see what he'll become as a swimmer years from now."
Mundelein senior Edwin Serrano -- 12th at state in the 200 free last year and "efficient" in the water, Mustangs coach Rahul Sethna noted -- reigned in the 500 free (4:48.28). Runner-up Timothy Rhee (4:50.97) of Stevenson lopped nearly 5 seconds off his seed time.
Warren's Billy Lawing finished fourth in the 100 free (49.34) and fifth in the 50 free (22.15) and led off the Blue Devils' fourth-place 200 free relay (1:30.53, with Evan Di Vito, Daniel Garcia-Andres and Ivan Morales).
Libertyville's Ethan Paul silvered in diving with 468.9 points, ahead of Mundelein's Jonathan Anno (third, 442.1); Stevenson's Joshua Wang (1:00.69) and Sirui Wang (1:00.72) went 2-3 in the 100 breast; Stevenson's Maxim Kolbunov touched second in the 200 free (1:45.68); Pats Olin Kusevskis (second, 100 back, 54.42) and Jack Motl (third, 200 IM, 2:00.69) also scaled the podium; and Ben Longeway paced Lake Forest's contingent with a runner-up time of 1:57.9 in the 200 IM.
Every NSC team but Lake Zurich vies for state berths Feb. 18 at the Lake Forest sectional. LZ got assigned to the Barrington sectional.
"We treated (the NSC meet) as a dress rehearsal for our sectional and state challenges," Lillydahl said. "There's definitely an air of confidence that comes with being the defending state champions. Our upperclassmen know the drill, and they know what it takes to be the best. But we'll guard against overconfidence, because there are excellent teams ready to challenge us.
"I love the culture of excellence, of a group of guys committed to each other, that we've established. I get to sit back at practices and at meets and watch.
"You know what else I get to do? Enjoy."