ST. CHARLES – As the curtain closes on the Upstate Eight Conference, St. Charles North's boys swimming team took its last bow.
The North Stars have seen some of the top swimming competition over the years in a conference which at one time included Neuqua Valley, Metea Valley, Waubonsie Valley and St. Charles East.
"When we first got into [the conference], it was probably the best swim conference in the state," North coach Rob Rooney said. "On any given year, those five schools could be top 10."
As time passed, schools changed conferences and the ebbs and flows of individual program development fluctuated with it, but North's dominant presence, along with East's, hardly left. This season is no different.
The North Stars defeated defending champion St. Charles East 314-295 at the Upstate Eight meet hosted by West Chicago on Feb. 3.
Brad Whitehurst won in both the 200 and 500-yard freestyle. Junior Will Myhre emerged victorious in his two individual events, 100 butterfly and 200-yard individual medley, while sophomore Nate Baxter turned in a winning performance in the 100 fly.
"[Rooney] wanted to win it," Baxter said of the final conference meet. "He remembers the first time we won it, and he [wanted] it to be the last. He wanted us to be engaged as a team, cheering [and] getting everyone pumped up to swim. Overall, that really helped in us winning."
When the newly formed DuKane conference convenes, North will be joined by East, Geneva, and Batavia as the other departures from the Upstate Eight. Lake Park, Glenbard North, Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South come along from DuPage Valley.
"It's been an awesome run in that conference," Rooney said. "I'm excited for what we've built. It's taken 20 years. It's gonna take another 20 years. It's been an honor to start it, and it's been an honor to build it. It's gonna continue to grow."