It’s called the Fenwick Sectional, but a more apt description of Saturday’s boys swimming competition would have been: Huskies-Friars Round 2.
With 15 teams competing for IHSA State Final berths, OPRF and Fenwick produced every relay team and individual swimmer (except Argo senior diver Ryan Rogers) who will compete at the state meet hosted by New Trier on Feb. 22-23.
Talk about a “select” pool of swimmers.
True to the intense nature of the crosstown rivalry, the Huskies exacted a measure of revenge by outscoring the host Friars 315-304 to win the sectional team title. In the first meeting on Dec. 4 this season, Fenwick defeated visiting OPRF 107-78 in a nonconference dual meet.
“We knew it was going to be a competitive meet against Fenwick at sectionals,” OPRF sophomore Frank Tirone said. “Everyone had to give 100 percent. The student section was fired up and there were a lot of people there cheering both teams on. As expected, the rivalry was definitely present, but we didn’t let them get in our heads.”
Fenwick senior Dan Lynch added, “It’s a great rivalry. OPRF always has great energy which pushes us to swim faster.”
Ultimately, both teams gained from the sectional with an impressive list of state qualifiers.
Tirone won both sprint races with times of 21.28 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle and 46.91 in the 100-yard freestyle.
Standout junior Will Raidt, sophomore Diego Pareja and junior Braydon Graves won individual events for OPRF as well. Raidt took first in the 100-yard butterfly (51.24), Pareja placed first in the 100-yard backstroke (51.21) and Graves notched the fastest time in the 100-yard breaststroke (58.63).
Pareja also came in second at 51.97 in the 100 fly, while junior Tyler Hoyt was runner-up with a score 417.65 in diving, trailing only Rogers (436.95).
“We had an amazing day as a team,” Raidt said. “Fenwick is a very fast team this year so we are proud to have won the meet. Lots of guys stepped up to make it possible. I was happy with my swims. All I wanted to do was score points for the team and qualify for state.”
In the most anticipated race of the day, Fenwick senior Liam Hutchinson edged Raidt (both state contenders) in the 200-yard freestyle. Hutchinson touched the wall at 1 minute, 40.88 seconds, followed closely by Raidt at 1:41.13.
“Having Will as a competitor and friend at sectionals and state is fun for me,” Hutchinson said earlier this season. “I know we will push each other to go faster and perform as well as we can. The 200 free is always one of the most competitive events at the state meet.”
Fenwick freshman Mike Flynn advanced to state in the 200 free as well with a time of 1:42.36. In the 500-yard freestyle, Fenwick qualified two swimmers in Hutchinson (4:36.52) and Flynn (4:39.99). Sophomore Connor McCarthy recorded a time of 1:56.43 to claim the 200-yard individual medley title.
The Friars’ other state qualifiers included Alex Figus (2nd place in 50 free; 21.57), Dan Lynch (2nd in 100 breast; 59.65) and McCarthy (3rd in 100 fly; 52.01).
Both teams fared well in the relays, with Fenwick advancing all three teams and OPRF sending two quartets to state. The Friars won the 200- and 400-yard freestyle races at 1:26.02 and 3:07.65, respectively, while the Huskies earned first in the 200-medley relay (1:33.67). Fenwick’s 200 medley relay and OPRF’s 200 free relay, which both finished in second, move on to New Trier as well.