Druley: North swimmers find depth, balance

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

St. Charles North toasted its boys swimming seniors with a banquet after Thursday’s narrow home victory against St. Charles East.

The night came complete with speeches, inside jokes and catered food, but before all that, there was a metaphor.

From poolside, North Stars coach Rob Rooney lauded the accelerated leadership of core seniors such as Ross Davis, Nick Traxler, Collin Bawolek and Nathan Bawolek and Tim Steele, who have helped the program’s transition more smoothly than expected.

“It’s been a year of growth with this group of boys, and I think that they’ve been looking to find their own identity, and I think [Thursday] helped develop that as we move toward the end of the year here,” Rooney said. “It’s always different every year when you lose a graduating class. This group has been great Indians, and now they’re learning how to be chiefs, in a sense, their senior year.”

North lost several stalwarts from last season’s eighth-place state finishers, a team that also won the Upstate Eight Conference and sectional titles.

While Rooney knew sophomore Stephan Hutchinson was a reliable commodity and sensed transfer sophomore Joe Myhre also had potential, he needed the upperclassmen to take the reins.

So far, so good.

“They’re going to taper great. They’ve worked very hard,” Rooney said. “I’m extremely proud of how they reacted and how they did.”

Last season, there was an appreciable talent gulf between the senior class and the rest of the team. This season has produced a different atmosphere as the entire group seems to be progressing at the same level.

North hosts the Upstate Eight Conference meet and an IHSA sectional next month, which only figures to add to the North Stars’ budding comfort level.

“The team chemistry is building,” Hutchinson said, “and it’s more of a motivational, cheer feeling to the whole meet.”

Roberts South Dakota-bound: Aurora Christian senior two-way standout Noah Roberts on Monday committed to play his college football at South Dakota, an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision school.

Like many of his teammates, Roberts, a defensive back/wide receiver, missed time because of injury during his senior season, but was a key contributor to the Eagles’ successive Class 3A state championships in 2011 and 2012.

Located in Vermillion, S.D., South Dakota is nicknamed the Coyotes and finished 4-8 in 2013. The Coyotes are set to open the 2014 season on Aug. 30 at Oregon.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.