There's no one better to school a potential State swimming champion than a former State swimming champion.
OPRF freestyler Jack Anderson has the advantage of learning the inside track to swimming at the IHSA State Finals by his head coach Peter Quinn, who won the 100-yard freestyle as a Huskie in 1983. Anderson, who has been drawing interest from college recruiters, capped last season off by placing 31st in the State prelims (:49.32). Quinn says his senior sprinter has a "legitimate chance at scoring at State" this year.
"Jack has worked hard in the offseason, mostly dry land type of things, but he looks to be a definite contender for us this season," says Quinn, now entering his 13th year as head coach of the swimming program at OPRF. "Certain things have to fall into place for swimmers to compete in the finals, but Jack has the potential. He and Taylor Rasley are going to be our anchors this year."
Rasley, who specializes in the backstroke but dabbles in freestyle, snagged OPRF's best individual finish in the State prelims last season by taking 28th in the backstroke with a time of :56.26. Rasley and Anderson are the only two swimmers back from the 200-yard medley relay team that placed 19th in the prelims last season. Quinn hopes to fill the gaps with some experienced splashers in Tim Matthew, Jimmy Kiel, Kevin Hallman and Sebastian Mestril.
Matthew and Kiel, juniors, both swam at sectionals last season. While its too early to determine where exactly everyone is going to fall into place, Quinn says its likely this duo will compete in the individual medley event.
As for Hallman and Mestril, the two sophomores don't exactly lack varsity experience. Both saw significant pool time competing in Saturday dual meets last season.
Quinn is currently in wait-and-see mode for the rest of his team's depth.
"We're going to have to see who emerges in some spots," he says. "It's not ideal to be in such a situation before the season begins, but it's not unusual. It'll take some time to figure out who fits where."
The Huskies will be without Scott Dunlavey in both the 200 individual medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay this year. Dunlavey graduated and is now swimming at Colgate University in New York with his brother Greg.
Quinn is looking forward to the Downers Grove South Invitational on Dec. 17 and the Carl Sandburg invite on Jan. 14 as good indicators for how his team will shape up this season.
The Huskies will more than likely battle Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township for the top spot in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference. The Red Devils won the conference last season.
Almost certainly standing in the way of the Huskies in the sectional will be cross-town rival Fenwick, who finished 11th overall at State last season. OPRF will have an opportunity to see its rivals early when the Friars travel up East Avenue for a dual meet on Jan. 10th.
"They've got a great team this year," said Quinn of Fenwick. "What we'll learn about them at the dual meet will probably be, wow they got a lot of good swimmers."
OPRF opens the season at Deerfield on Friday (6 p.m.), followed by a trip out to Barrington on Saturday (1 p.m.). The Huskies don't compete in their own pool until Dec. 16th, when they take on Lyons Township.