Boys Swimming: Metea invite offers postseason tuneup
BY NEIL SHALIN For Sun-Times Media January 24, 2013 5:20PM
Waubonsie Valley's Stephen Ernst finished second in the 200 individual medley during a dual meet against Neuqua Valley on Jan. 10. Ernst is a candidate for a state berth in the butterfly. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 26, 2013 6:35AM
The highlight of this weekend for the boys high school aquatic world will be the Mustang Invite at Metea Valley, the last big invitational before the postseason begins next week with conference championships.
All the Naperville area schools will be competing as coaches try to tweak their lineups, set up their relay teams and give some members of their second rung of swimmers and divers the chance to make the sectional teams.
“This will be an important test for our depth,” said Waubonsie Valley coach Nick Arens. “And it’s always good to face the competition at the Mustang Invite. We haven’t had an invite with standard events since the Neuqua Valley Invite in December.”
Among the swimmers to watch Saturday for the Warriors is senior Stephen Ernst, who is a candidate for state in the 100 butterfly and who also figures prominently in Arens’ relay team plans.
“Stephen is stepping up in both the fly and the breaststroke,” said Arens. “And he’s one of about eight who could make it in one or both of the free relays. In the fly, he missed state by .01 of a second last year and he’s determined to not let that happen again.”
The Warriors’ future also looks bright as some of the top people from an outstanding freshman class move into the competitive mix.
Freshmen Michael Schwers and Tag Lohman join veteran Nathan Morris in giving the coach options in the distance freestyle races, and great things are expected for backstroker Riley Devine.
“The format of this meet helps us because you’re permitted three entries in each event,” Arens said.
The bad news from Naperville North is that versatile junior Garrett Nash, who has been out with an injury for the past month, will miss the remainder of the season.
“Garrett is a great kid and a key athlete for us and one of the leaders of our junior class,” said Huskies coach Andy McWhirter. “He’s a top sprint freestyler so he’s a factor on our free relays, and he also does the 100 backstroke and swims the backstroke on the medley relays. A couple of other guys will have to step up to fill the void. We’re counting on Garrett rehabbing in the offseason and being 100 percent fit for his senior year.”
Moving into the backstroke responsibilities is junior Cameron Snyders, who has already demonstrated that he’s up to the assignment, while senior John Moosemiller and junior Andrew Rocco have shown that they deserve consideration for the relay spots.
“This is an important meet for us for a few reasons,” said McWhirter. “It gives potential qualifiers Sam Hiller and Eric Hiller some great races leading up to the postseason, and the guys who have a shot at our sectional lineup will have the chance to show what they can do in a fast pool. We still have some relay spots that have to be decided. This meet and next week’s DVC meet will give our boys the chance to get their minds in the racing mode they’ll need for sectionals. “
Kevin Kielma has been coming on in the butterfly while Stephen Missak and Rocco are looking good in the sprint freestyle races.
Also, sophomore diver Thomas Petersen, who recently broke the school’s frosh-soph diving record that has stood since 1983, looked good at last week’s Evanston Diving Meet, and has definitely established himself as a candidate to qualify for state.
While his lineup is not yet set for sectionals, Neuqua Valley coach Chad Allen will be getting a final pre-UEC meet look at such standouts as Drew Dvorchak (100 fly and 200 IM), and Brian Depuy (distance freestyle), the Wildcats’ two biggest hopes to score at state.
Allen also believes the Wildcats’ 200 freestyle relay team that includes Alan Cartwright, Alex Thoele, Joe Widuch and Will Russell can make the cut..
Widuch, a sophomore, is a good sprinter and he’s also strong in the backstroke. Carthwright, Thoele and Russell are all reliable veterans who can fill a number of roles. Russell is also one of the Wildcats’ top water polo players.
“These guys are all good sprinters and as a team they’re just a good swim away from making it to state,” said Allen.
Another Wildcat singled out for praise was sophomore Ian Ivkovich, who has been excelling in both the IM and the 100 free. He should also be on the medley relay.
“We have been getting better in the other two relays,” said Allen. “But, we still have a ways to go. A lot of guys are getting sharper, so if we get good showings this weekend when we’re tired, we have a chance to do well when we’re tapered.”