OPRF junior swimmer Will Raidt placed among the top 8 in two individual events at the state finals hosted by New Trier on Saturday, Feb. 23. (File photo by Don Bartecki)

Oak Park and River Forest High School junior Will Raidt fell a few spots short of winning the 200-yard freestyle at the state finals, hosted by New Trier over the weekend. For good measure, he placed eighth in the 100-yard butterfly finals.

Those excellent results position Raidt well for potentially becoming a state champion next season. In the meantime, he is enjoying his role as the top performer on a very talented and young OPRF squad.

In the aforementioned races, Raidt recorded a time of 1 minute, 38.97 seconds in the 200 free and a time of 50.03 seconds in the 100 fly. The former was particularly notable as Raidt touched the wall right after runner-up Liam Hutchinson from Fenwick (1:38.16). Loyola Academy’s Luke Maurer won the 200 free state title with a time of 1:37.33.

“It’s always fun racing Liam in the 200 free,” Raidt said about facing his top rival and close friend. “It’s awesome that two of the three fastest 200 freestylers in the state are from Oak Park and River Forest schools.”

In the 200-yard medley relay, the quartet of sophomore Diego Pareja, senior Alex Pedraza, sophomore Frank Tirone and Raidt took 10th in the state with a time of 1:34.72.

In the team standings, the Huskies finished 13th with 23 points.

“Our team placed 13th overall, which is better than last year’s 21st place finish at state,” said Raidt, who will train with the Academy Bullets during the offseason. “We are proud of that improvement. Individually, I was happy to have dropped time and placed in the top three (200 free) for the first time.”

The Huskies entered the state finals brimming with confidence after edging sectional host Fenwick 315-304.

“We knew it was going to be a competitive meet against Fenwick at sectionals,” 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.”

Looking ahead, OPRF coach Clyde Lundgren welcomes back plenty of proven swimmers with state qualifiers Raidt, Tirone, Pareja, Ben Guerrero, Braydon Graves and diver Tyler Hoyt. Seniors J.P. Rotatori and Pedraza will be the only notable losses.

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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...