ST. CHARLES – Final exams for District 303 students concluded when school did Thursday. Make no mistake, there was no extension for an evening session at the St. Charles North pool.
While the North Stars reveled in a 100-86 victory against crosstown counterpart St. Charles East, they also made sure not to assign too much meaning to the result with plenty of season still ahead.
“I think we might want to be a little bit farther than we are right now,” North Stars sophomore Stephan Hutchinson sad, “but we’re on the track to get there.”
Hutchinson and classmate Joe Myhre helped North to its latest checkpoint. Both athletes teamed up as part of the North Stars’ victorious 200-yard medley and 200 freestyle relays and also enjoyed individual success.
Hutchinson won the 100 freestyle in 50.71 – one-hundreth of a second faster than East’s Nick Wellman – while Myhre, a transfer student from Indiana, took titles in the 50 freestyle (22.28) and 100 backstroke (55.59).
“I love it. I mean, you’ve got great teammates. I like my captains a lot. Good people,” Myhre said. “It was a good move.”
North competed at home for the first time in almost a month Thursday, but won’t have to venture out much between now and the state meet Feb. 28 to March 1 at Evanston.
The North Stars will travel to separate invitationals at Hinsdale Central (diving) and New Trier (swimming) on Saturday before an Upstate Eight Conference dual Thursday at Bartlett. After that, the team hosts its own invitational, the UEC meet and a sectional.
East finds itself in a similar situation, inasmuch as it doesn’t have to leave St. Charles until state. Saturday’s annual college events invitational at the Norris Center pool kicks off a homestand that includes duals against Neuqua Valley, South Elgin and Rockford Guilford before the conference meet Feb. 8.
The crosstown showdown provided a fitting springboard for the season’s homestretch.
“Most of our meets so far, they’ve been pretty low-key, you know. More of the meets we go in and are like, ‘OK, we’re kind of going to smoke them on this one,’ ” Saints senior Will Shanel said. “Here, you know, we came in, we knew we had to push. The last couple weeks have been rough, tons of yardage, tons of practice. We had finals this last week, along with North. So everybody, both teams, East and North, we all brought the spirit. We definitely stepped up there.”
Athletes from both sides expressed pleasant surprise in the size of the crowd, which included more than just the usual offering of swimmers’ family members and girlfriends.
Wellman’s astronomy teacher, Julie Dowling, came to see the team compete, including Wellman’s teammate/classmate Gage Harshbarger.
East’s individual winners included Nick Boryk (200 free, 1:49,44; 500 free, 4:59.52); John Tarpey (200 individual medley, 2:06.07) and Shanel (100 butterfly, 53.51; 100 breaststroke, 1:04.69).
Tyler VanGyseghem teamed with Shanel, Wellman and Boryk in the winning 400 freestyle relay to close the meet.
Ross Davis and Tim Steele (200 medley) and Benjamin Sherman and Collin Bawolek (200 free) were the other members of North’s winning relays, while North Star Mike Burke won the diving competition.
The North Stars prepared for a senior recognition dinner in the cafeteria Thursday after completing some cool-down yardage. Although one topic of conversation was clear, North was adamant it wouldn’t be the dominant one.
“We’re just going to have to look at this meet, see where we were. We did good,” Hutchinson said. “And we’re just going to have to move from there and try to keep progressing and getting better.”