If anyone else had finished first ahead of him Saturday at the state meet in Winnetka, Naperville Central senior standout Jeff Depew may have been upset.
Considering it was his junior teammate Sean Lehane, who edged him out to win the 100-yard backstroke championship, Depew couldn’t have been happier.
“If it was someone I hated or someone else other than Sean, I wouldn’t have been happy, but Sean is a great guy,” Depew said. “He’s a hard worker and great person to train with. I can’t really say anything bad about him and I’m just so happy that he won.”
Lehane became the tradition-rich program’s first-ever state champion in the 100 backstroke when his time of 50.28 seconds edged Depew’s 50.40. Depew had posted the fastest time in the event during Friday’s preliminaries.
“It feels great,” Lehane said. “I would’ve felt the same if I got second and Jeff got first. We just really wanted to get first and second. It’s great to compete with Jeff all season and switching off who gets first and second all the way. I think we help each other out and got what we expected today.”
The exciting backstroke race was just part of another huge day for Naperville Central. The Redhawks weren’t able to defend their state championship, but still finished an impressive second.
New Trier (217 points) took first, followed by Naperville Central (163). Neuqua Valley was eighth (48) and Naperville North was ninth (44).
Depew also teamed with senior Steven Van Deventer, junior Nate Weeks and senior Pat May to win the 200 medley relay (1:31.95). Naperville Central broke the state record when it won Friday’s heat in 1:31.68. Lehane, Depew, May and senior Tony Zhang also captured fifth in the 400 freestyle relay (3:07.42).
“I’m just in the moment,” Depew said shortly after his impressive high school career came to an end Saturday. “We weren’t the favorites this year as defending state champions, but I thought we swam really well Saturday. It was a remarkable season.”
Depew added a second-place finish in the 200 individual medley (1:49.48), while Lehane also placed 11th in the 200 freestyle (1:42.68). Weeks was fifth in the 200 IM (1:52.93) and Van Deventer took fourth in the 100 breaststroke (57.48).
May finished fourth in the 100 freestyle (46.22) and teamed with Zhang, senior David Xie and Weeks to place second in the 200 freestyle relay (1:24.97), not far behind New Trier (1:24.58).
“We’re always strong in the relays,” May said. “We’re not going our strongest during the season, but we like coming to the state meet and showing people who we truly are. It also feels pretty good getting (an individual medal) from where I was at last year. It’s a nice feeling.”
The storied rivalry between Peoria Richwoods’ Matt Elliott and Neuqua Valley senior Kevin Cordes came to an impressive end Saturday.
Elliott won the 100 breaststroke in a state-record 53.80 seconds, edging Cordes (54.16) for the title. The Florida-bound Elliott concluded his brilliant career with seven individual state championships. Cordes, who is headed to Arizona, stunned Elliott by winning the 100 breaststroke as a sophomore.
“It was a great race and I’m happy with my time,” said Cordes, who also took sixth in the 50 freestyle (21.39). “We’ve been going back-and-forth since my sophomore year when I beat him. I don’t think he was too happy with that, so he’s come back strong. It was also huge getting a medal (in the 50 freestyle). No one knew me as a freestyler, so just to show everyone I can do that was exciting. I had a lot of good things happen during my high school career.”
Neuqua Valley senior Conner Jager dropped an impressive 9:41 seconds off his sectional time in the 500 free to reach the consolation heat Saturday where he placed 11th (4:37.75). Jager nearly made the consolation finals in the 100 backstroke as well, placing 13th (52.77), just 0.18 shy of the 12th spot.
Jager and Cordes teamed with sophomore Jerry Wu and Robert Vechiola to get third in the 200 medley relay (1:34.08).
Senior Ted Wagner just missed advancing to the finals in diving. He took 13th in Friday’s preliminaries with a score of 304.40, just 0.45 shy of 12th place.
Naperville North junior Kevin Butz had a memorable state meet.
He finished fourth in the 500 freestyle (4:29.52) and sixth in the 200 freestyle (1:43.01).
“I’m very pleased,” Butz said. “My coach does a great job of preparing us, so it doesn’t feel like much of a burden when you get to state. Hopefully I can do even better next year.”
Butz also joined junior Tom Hubbard, senior Alex Hogenboom and junior Nick Bessler to place seventh in the 400 freestyle relay (3:08.13).
Bessler also took sixth in the 200 IM (1:53.10), while senior Ian Henderson was 12th in diving (406.15 points).
Hinsdale South senior Sebastian Ostrowski picked up a pair of medals.
Ostrowski entered state with the top time in the 100 backstroke, but had to settle for a fourth-place finish (50.64) Saturday. He also took seventh in the 200 individual medley (1:52.54) after being disqualified in the event last season.
“I’m happy how the season ended,” said Ostrowski, who broke school records in both of his events Saturday. “I enjoyed the progress I made since freshman year. It was a good feeling having the top time, but I knew I was going to have to work harder. There were a lot of good times.
Oswego East senior Doug Ogilvie became only the program’s second state medalist after placing sixth in diving with 435.60 points.
His is now the school’s highest place-winner, surpassing Jon Reppy’s ninth-place finish in the 500 freestyle in 2005.
“Sixth place is awesome,” said Ogilvie, who placed 30th last season. “I don’t know why but I was really calm. I always have a song going on in my head to distract me and that’s how I stay focused. I focus by being distracted, which is a strange motto, but it works for me. I’ve always liked to set records, so it feels great to be (the school’s highest placer). It was an exciting day.”