Boys swimming: Scouting the Northwest suburbs
Top teams: Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Fremd, Hersey, Maine South, Prospect, Rolling Meadows.
Top Swimmers/Divers: Ricky Anesi (Jr, Saint Viator), Rylan Anselm (fr, Barrington), David Basa (fr, Barrington), Evan Bestor (Jr, Conant), Sean Bosshart (Jr, Saint Viator), Jack Epperson (sr, Prospect), Alex Fleming (sr, Maine West), Andrew Flight (Jr, Hersey) Henry Gabriel (sr, Palatine), Jacob Hardt (Rolling Meadows), Tim Hays (Jr, Prospect), Mason Hergert (Jr, Wheeling), Dylan Kase (sr, Hersey), Sam Keeley (sr, Rolling Meadows), Dan Langlois (sr, Barrington), Emil Lasocki (sr, Buffalo Grove), Ian Listopad (sr, Maine West), Nate Loch (sr, Hersey), Leo Marcinkus (Jr, Saint Viator), James McKevitt (sr, Buffalo Grove), Griffin O’Leary (Jr, Barrington), Kevin Pollina (Jr, Hersey), Joey Roberts (Jr, Maine South), Alex Santiago (sr, Buffalo Grove), Isaac Scherman (so, Streamwood-Bartlett), Lukas Slifierz (Rolling Meadows), Kevin Soltys (sr, Prospect), Evan Stegall (Fremd), Erik Swanson (sr, Buffalo Grove), Noah Thomas (Jr, Hersey), Andrew Tonkovic (Jr, Prospect), Tommy Tsifitilis (sr, Buffalo Grove), Daniil Vasiljevs (sr, Buffalo Grove), Kyren Whiting (fr, Rolling Meadows), Jack Wojtowicz (Jr, Hersey), Shoya Yamazaki (Fremd).
Season outlook: Palatine head coach Katie Mroz may have said it best heading into 2021 boys swimming: “Although so much is different this season, “said Mroz, “there are some things that remain the same. We have a vocal, positive and hardworking team. The guys are looking forward to racing and becoming better athletes in and out of the pool. We’re looking forward to building relationships, growth, and continuing the success we’ve experienced in the last few years.”
All coaches feel the same to one varying degree or another in this season, that will of course be unlike any other due to COVID restrictions.
The swim campaign will continue only through March 13 and will have no state series, but Hersey coach Dick Mortensen is able to see the positives — and the challenges.
“The no state series really hurts (junior) Noah Thomas, our swimmer with disabilities,” said Mortensen. “He is the reigning state champ in four events and state record holder in two. We are working with the Mid-Suburban League to make sure that we can offer an AWD (Athletes with Disabilities) heat at the conference meet so at least he has an opportunity to showcase his talents.”
Mortensen added that the final day of the MSL season, on March 13, would be a “conference style meet.”
The consensus is that safety, without a doubt, consistency, and gaining experience rather than focusing on wins and losses is uppermost on the minds of most area coaches, who weighed in with their comments on the lifting of restrictions and the restart of competition:
“Most importantly, we want to finish the season safely, keeping the health and wellness of our athletes as priority number one. We’re confident that we’ll also see some personal records, competitive dual meets, and hopefully all-conference awards from multiple athletes.” — Christopher Trella, Maine West
“We’re excited to have any kind of a season. The pause did hurt the overall number of kids on our team, but those who persevered are excited to be in the water again and compete.” — Andrew Adams, Fremd
“Since it looks like most of our meets will be virtual, the emphasis will be not on winning meets, but instead competing and racing teammates to work toward getting that competitive edge back, because so many have been away from a competitive meet environment for so long.” — Don Kura, Maine South
“We’re going to push ourselves as long as we are allowed, and keep going, looking forward to the end of the season conference meet.” Mike Miklius — Saint Viator
“The guys have been eagerly awaiting for the IHSA to restart the season and are excited to finally get it going again. As a coach I can tell through the smiles and laughs that they’re happy to be back, ready to work, and pumped up to finish this shortened season on a high note.” — Brian Drenth, Conant
“We’re looking to have fun this season and enjoy every practice and meet that we have been afforded. Our schedule is a lineup of MSL East opponents, so we look forward to seeing how we match up.” Alfonso Lopez — Prospect
“For our athletes, I’m looking forward to bring back a little normalcy to their lives as student-athletes. Most if not all have not swam in over a year. As a coach it’s just nice to get back on deck and see swimmers back in the water.” — Chris Cook, Leyden.
“With such a short season, we’re looking to grow our program by giving our athletes a positive and memorable experience.” Adam Longo — Hoffman Estates
And on a final note, Rolling Meadows coach Monika Chiappetta adds that the short time frame for the year is “for sure bittersweet,” but notes that her swimmers and excited for the season to begin, especially the upperclassmen.
“My top seniors have had their sights set on some big things for three years,” said Chiappetta. “We are so excited to get a season — but very disappointed that we will not have sectionals or state. These seniors were set up for greatness.”