Fenwick High School's Thomas Heit competes in the 100 Yard Butterfly on Saturday 2-18-2023 at Fenwick High School. | Ian McLeod

After seeing crosstown rival Oak Park and River Forest High School win the IHSA Leyden Sectional last season, the Fenwick High School boys swimming and diving team wanted to finish this year in a familiar spot — on top.

The Friars got the job done Feb. 18 by winning sectionals in their home pool with 296 points, 36 more than the runner-up Huskies.

FHS’s Thomas Caicedo competes in the 100 yard Backstroke on Saturday 2-18-2023 at Fenwick High School. | Ian McLeod

“It’s amazing, there are no words that can describe it,” said Fenwick junior Tomas Adomaitis. “I love my team.”

Adomaitis had an excellent day, winning the 100-yard breaststroke in 57.79 seconds and the 200-yard individual medley in 1:55.77, qualifying for the state meet. He came from behind in the 100 breast to edge out OPRF’s Adan Pedraza, whose time of 58.17 was good enough to advance downstate as well.

“I was training hard the whole season and I didn’t let [Pedraza] getting in front of me get into my mind,” Adomaitis said. “I swam like I knew how, hit all my walls, and knew I could get him at the end.”

Adomaitis was also part of the Friars’ winning 200-yard medley relay (1:36.28), along with junior Finn Vahey, freshman Patrick Rhatigan and junior Carter Fask.

FHS’s Tomas Adomaitis competes in the 100 yard Breaststroke at Fenwick on Saturday 2-18-1023. | Ian McLeod

“Tomas is a special kid,” said Fenwick coach Steve Thompson. “He likes to race and he’s got a lot of talent.”

Rhatigan rose to the occasion individually as well. His victorious time of 1:42.16 in the 200-yard freestyle qualified him for state. He also swam a leg on Fenwick’s winning and state-qualifying 200-yard freestyle relay (1:24.86) along with Fask, Code Podgorski and Sam Kulisek.

“Patrick came to us [this season] ready to make a statement,” Thompson said. “He’s done a really great job of stepping in and contributing.”

Fask won the 50-yard freestyle in a state-qualifying time of 21.06, and the Friars’ 400-yard freestyle relay of Podgorski, Rhatigan, Adomaitis and Kulisek advanced downstate by finishing second in 3:09.44.

“This was a total team effort,” Thompson said. “Everyone that was here contributed. Now we’ve got to keep moving forward, that’s our theme this season.”

Huskies advance 5 individuals, 2 relays

Meanwhile, OPRF coach Clyde Lundgren expressed satisfaction with his team’s performance.

“It was great swimming all the way around,” he said. “I’m really proud of our guys, especially with having to overcome the setback with the medley relay disqualification.”

Lundgren said an exchange mishap led to the disqualification. The Huskies’ Pablo Pareja also was disqualified in the 200 IM.

FHS’s Owen McDonald competes in the 500 yard Freestyle event at Fenwick High School on Saturday 2-18-2023. | Ian McLeod

“It was one of those things where you can say hard times build character,” Lundgren said. “But I would say hard times reveal character. Our boys were in a tough spot, but they bounced back well and kept their composure.”

Pareja, a sophomore, was a good example. After his earlier DQ, he responded with a state-qualifying victory in the 100-yard backstroke (52.65).

OPRF also won and advanced downstate in two other individual events. Senior Emmett Harmon took the 100-yard butterfly in 51.24, while junior Lars Rauch was victorious in the 100-yard freestyle (46.70).

In addition to Pedraza’s state-qualifying performance in the 100 breast, sophomore Will Keyes’ second-place showing in the 200-yard freestyle (1:43.83) qualified him for the state meet.

FHS’s Finnbarr Munley competes in the 500 yard Freestyle event at Fenwick High School on Saturday 2-18-2023. | Ian McLeod

The Huskies also advanced downstate two relays. The 400-yard freestyle relay of Keyes, Harmon, Pedraza, and Rauch was victorious in 3:08.73, and the 200-yard freestyle relay of Rauch, Pedraza, Keyes, and Harmon finished second, qualifying in a time of 1:24.98. Afterwards, Lundgren lauded his young talent.

“You want to be in the moment,” he said, “but it’s nice to see what’s to come (in the future).”

Lundgren hopes to get the relays through to the final day of the state meet. He’d also like to see the individual times improve and get Harmon a repeat honor.

“He was All-State last year, so we hope to get him back into the top twelve and see what he can do,” he said.

The IHSA state meet takes place Feb. 24-25 at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont.

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