OPRF swimmers and head coach Clyde Lundgren proudly show their Fenwick Sectional plaque after edging the host Friars for the title. (Submitted photo)

The rivalry between Oak Park and River Forest and Fenwick is alive and well in high school boys swimming. The Huskies (322) edged the host Friars (299.5) in a sectional on Saturday, Feb. 17.

“Our boys exceeded the expectations that I had for them and I think they had for themselves,” OPRF coach Clyde Lundgren said. “It’s a testament to their hard work and competence to be able to do that at such a young age.”

OPRF and Fenwick dominated the action, with the teams divvying up all the first-place finishes and state finals berths for the upcoming weekend at Evanston High School (Feb. 23-24) . The Friars won seven races and the Huskies five at the sectional.

“It’s a great rivalry,” Fenwick junior Dan Lynch said. “OPRF always has great energy which pushes us to swim faster.”

Lundgren added, “Our boys really enjoy having Fenwick at the sectional meet. It is certainly an added incentive to be able to race our crosstown rival. I think it brings the best out of both of us.”

In Saturday’s relays, Fenwick won the 200-yard medley relay (1 minute, 35.03 seconds) and 200-yard freestyle relay (1:25.83). Senior Tommy Bartecki, Lynch, freshman Connor McCarthy and junior Liam Hutchinson swam for Fenwick in the 200 medley relay.

The same group represented the Friars in the 200 free relay, except sophomore Dan Badja competed instead of McCarthy. The Huskies’ quartet of freshman Frank Tirone, sophomore Will Raidt, junior Alex Pedraza and junior J.P. Rotatori placed second in the 200 free relay at 1:26.15.

OPRF won the final race of the day when Tirone, Rotatori, Pedraza and Raidt recorded a time of 3:11.07 in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

In the individual events, Raidt was the only two-time winner/state qualifier with victories in the 200-yard freestyle (1:41.86) and 100-yard backstroke (51.00).

Fenwick winners included McCarthy in the 100-yard butterfly (51.84), Bartecki in the 100-yard freestyle (48.22), Lynch in the 100-yard breaststroke (57.32) and Hutchinson in the 500-yard freestyle (4:42.62), Hutchinson also placed second in the 200 free (1:42.10) behind Raidt.

“The team swam great,” Lynch said about the Friars’ sectional performance. “We had lots of fun racing and dropping time. Hopefully, we can drop more time Friday (at the state final preliminaries) and make it back for Saturday (state finals).”

The Huskies are an exciting, young team with an impressive array of promising swimmers. Four underclassmen qualified for state by winning events for OPRF at the sectional. The Huskies boast six freshmen (notably Ben Guerrero, Frank Tirone, Diego Pareja) and 11 underclassmen overall on the varsity. Raidt has an extremely bright future as a standout sophomore who can swim a variety of events.

“They are a young and talented group,” Lundgren said. “They rolled out a nearly flawless performance (at Fenwick).”

Guerrero earned first in the 200-yard individual medley, touching the wall at 1:58.24. Tirone, an excellent sprint swimmer, took first in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.85. In diving, sophomore Tyler Hoyt advanced to state with a winning score of 377.90.

The 100-yard back was the only race to qualify three swimmers for the state finals. In addition to the victorious Raidt, Pareja (51.69) and Bartecki (52.68) came in second and third, respectively.

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...