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Two of the area's high school swim teams gave their fans something to be proud of in the midst of an historic IHSA State championship in Winnetka on Saturday at New Trier High School.
The OPRF boys cracked the top 10 by garnering 51 points, just 10 points behind ninth place finisher Waubonsie Valley and five points more than cross-town rival Fenwick, who finished 11th. New Trier won the meet handedly with 189 points, while Hinsdale Central finished second (96 points) and Lake Forest rounded out third (93). But the teams were overshadowed by some impressive individual swims. Mundelein senior Connor Black broke the national record in the 100 butterfly with a blistering time of 46.71 seconds. New Trier senior Reed Malone broke the state record in the 200 freestyle (1:36.82) and Loyola Academy senior Andrew Jovanovic broke the state record for the 100 backstroke (48.25).
The Huskies set their goal of a top 10 finish a year ago at their end of the season banquet, when former head coach Peter Quinn told new head coach Clyde Lundgren that he believed this team had the potential to achieve such a goal.
"We couldn't be happier for how things turned out for us as a team," said Lundgren after OPRF accomplished the task. "That goal was in the front of our minds all season, and everything we did was centered on trying to accomplish that goal. Our guys did all the work and they accomplished it."
Senior Nikita Bondarenko placed sixth in the 200 freestyle with a personal best time of 1:40.32. He also finished fourth in the 500 freestyle (4:30.21). Fellow senior Kyle Patnode took fourth in the 100 backstroke (50.31) and ninth in the 100 butterfly with a personal best 50.19 seconds.
"Really it's all about trusting your coaches and their training methods and then believing in yourself, and I think that OPRF did that phenomenally this season and specifically [on Saturday]," said Patnode.
The Huskies also took to the finals in the relays. The 200-yard medley relay team of Patnode, Bondarenko, junior Mark Hallman and senior Nathan Pimentel finished eighth with a time of 1:35.41 and 10th in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:08.87). The group has been swimming together for the good part of 10 years, said Lundgren.
"This was a culmination of their careers. They really committed to one another, and (their accomplishments) were very satisfying to the team and to the school."
Fenwick's best finish came in the 200 freestyle relay where they placed second with a time of 1:24.16, edging out New Trier (1:24.43), while Hinsdale Central placed first (1:23.43).
"It was just incredible," said Fenwick senior captain Justin White, who, along with Zach Tieke, Tommy McGuire and Mike Hill, swam the event for the Friars. "Beating New Trier has been one of my goals for four years, and to do it at their home pool is just great."
Fenwick also placed 11th in both the 200-yard medley relay (1:36.40) and 400-yard freestyle relay (3:09.74). Matt Farmer, McGuire, Cavan Smith, and Tieke swam the 200-yard medley relay. White, Derek Guillen, Hill, and Tieke swam the 400 free relay. McGuire also finished 11th in the 100-yard breaststroke (58.56).
Fenwick sophomore and River Forest resident Max Showalter also made some noise Saturday, as he placed fifth overall among an elite group of divers with a score of 404.30.
White added that he foresees a bright future for the Friars in state meets for the next couple of years, as the underclassmen have already proven that they can compete.
"There will definitely be a lot of fast relays," he said. "These guys will do great, best wishes to them."