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St. Charles North, Marmion boys swimming off to strong start at state

Published: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 5:35 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
St. Charles North’s Spencer Gray celebrates after swimming the 500-yard freestyle during the IHSA boys swimming and diving state meet preliminaries Friday at New Trier in Wilmette.

WILMETTE – The pool at New Trier isn’t exactly conducive for setting personal records or fast times.

The shallow depth and choppy waves create a tougher-than-usual go for swimmers.

The enormity of the IHSA state finals and the talent on hand for Friday’s preliminaries made the state of the pool irrelevant as several records were shattered while times were faster overall.

Area teams St. Charles North and Marmion set themselves up for Top-10 finishes today after each school qualified two of their three relay teams.

Cadets’ coach Bill Schalz, whose team sits in seventh, hopes his swimmers don’t take a step back after putting the team in position for a high finish.

“We swam great today but there are some things that we need to clean up,” Schalz said. “We definitely have a shot to be top-ten. We’re swimming in every relay against rivalries with Loyola and Fenwick. The tough thing about [today] is that there is that sigh of relief that you made it. But, you have to get back up and be ready.”

Marmion put itself in a good position after finishing fourth in the 400-yard freestyle relay at 3:07.29, shaving nearly six seconds of their sectional qualifying time.

Mike Burke, Robert Ramoksa, Josh Kanute and Jonathan Thielen comprised the relay which finished just behind Hinsdale Central, Lake Forest and New Trier.

Thielen helped the Cadets’ 200 freestyle relay team advance to the finals with a fifth-place finish at 1:25.22. The Minnesota recruit will also compete in the 100 backstroke consolation finals after placing seventh.

“I feel pretty good overall – I couldn’t have asked for much more out of our 200-yard free relay team,” Thielen said. “Not making it back to finals in the 100 backstroke is tough but I just shook it off and we swam great in the 400-free relay.”

St. Charles North also finds itself in the mix for a top-five finish after qualifying two of its three relay teams. The North Stars saved their best for last, shaving four seconds of their qualifying time in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a 3:07.73.

“We had a great day – I’m very proud of the boys and how they functioned,” North coach Rob Rooney said. “They handled a little bit of adversity and we had ups and downs along the way. This meet is like a roller coaster ride. There are peaks and valleys along with fear and excitement. We need to come back [today] and swim faster.”

The North Stars are in good standing thanks to their relays along with strong individual performances in the 500 freestyle where Kyle Gannon placed third with a 4:29.33, shaving six seconds off his sectional time.

Gannon also qualified for the 200 freestyle consolation finals while being part of the North Stars’ 200 and 400 relay final qualifiers.

“The vibe coming in was really good. The 200 free was a tough race for them but they did an awesome job with it,” Rooney said. “We just have to get faster [today] and race and that’s what it’s all about. I’m excited to see where we’re at. We need Gannon and Spencer Gray to step up – they all need to step up and get faster [today].”

Meanwhile, St. Charles East failed to qualify any relays but Will Shanel will compete in the 200 individual medley consolation finals after the junior posted a 1:53.27.

Mundelein senior Connor Black set state records in both the 100 butterfly (47.20) and the 50-yard freestyle (19.80). 

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