For the first time since the program’s first-place finish in 1998, the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys swim team placed in the top five at the IHSA state finals as team on Feb. 29.
The Huskies racked up 98 points to place fourth and cap a groundbreaking year for the program.
“Since the beginning of the season, [OPRF head coach Clyde Lundgren] knew that this year was going to be something special,” said senior Braydon Graves. “Going into the year, we knew we had to push ourselves and that we had the ability to go farther than we have in a long time. We wanted to win state, but this team couldn’t have asked for more with how we finished.”
Highlights from the day
In the first event, OPRF’s 200-yard medley relay placed third at 1 minute, 31.55 second behind the efforts of Diego Pareja, Benjamin Guerrero, Will Raidt and Frank Tirone. They beat out Lyons Township High School’s relay team by 0.26 seconds after the Lions had won state in that event last year.
OPRF followed that performance by placing fifth in the 200 freestyle relay (Tirone, Pareja, Radit and James Shorney) with a time of 1:24.19. The 400 freestyle relay team of Pareja, Guerrero, Tirone and Raidt placed third with a finals time of 3:06.73.
In the 200-yard freestyle, Raidt came in sixth place with a 1:41.61, while his teammate Pareja placed sixth in the 100 backstroke (50.03). Graves came in 10th in the 100 yard breaststroke (58.72).
After the team put up one of the best performances in the program’s history, senior Will Raidt said he could feel the impact of what the group accomplished this season.
“I think being a swimmer at OPRF, you want to leave behind a legacy,” said Raidt. “We are actually still in touch with some of the swimmers on the record board from [OPRF] teams in the past. We get what this means.”
Tirone rewrites record books
At some point, OPRF is going to need to update its record board displayed above the East Pool. During the state meet’s preliminary heats on Feb. 28, Tirone broke the school record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.97. The record was previously held by Josh Fluharty who swam a 21.03 time in 2016.
Tirone also broke the school record in the 100-yard free leading off the 400-yard relay when he put up a time of 45.98. OPRF alumnus Mark Hallman (46.02) had held the record in the event since 2014 before Tirone’s performance at state.
Tirone admitted that he had been eyeing the school records since his freshman year at OPRF.
“It’s crazy, man,” said Tirone during an interview with Wednesday Journal on March 1. “It’s always been something that has been on my mind, and I knew I could get to this point but to be up there on the plaque is very exciting. Josh Fluharty even asked me for the plaque back. I’m not giving it up though.”
Fenwick places 13th
Fenwick High School’s swim team tied for 13th place with Plainfield North at the state finals, scoring 32 points each.
The Friars’ 200-yard medley relay (Pete Buinauskas, Mike Flynn, Connor McCarthy and Dan Bajda) placed 12th with a time of 1:35.09. The 400 yard freestyle relay, which featured the same group, placed seventh with a time of 3:08.64.
Flynn had a solid day individually at state, placing third in the 500-yard freestyle (4:29.07) and ninth in the 200 free (1:40.63).
St. Charles (North) ended up winning the state meet with a score of 137. Loyola Academy (135), Glenbrook South (128) and Waubonsie Valley (85) joined OPRF as top-five finishers at state.