The Riverside-Brookfield High School boys swim team did something that no previous swim team at the school had accomplished before. The Bulldogs won their first-ever sectional title Saturday at Fenwick with 294 points, followed by the sectional host Friars (253 points) and Oak Park and River Forest (231 points).
RBHS junior Quinn Risley set a new Fenwick pool record in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.74 seconds. Brother Rice’s Tony DeGasso previously held the record of 20.92, which he set in 2002.
“That’s what I was gunning for,” Risley said about the 50 free record. “I’ve been thinking about it for two weeks; I knew that record by heart. We didn’t know what I’d be coming in with because I’m not fully tapered, so I just knew I had to go out and race. I knew it would be a tough race.”
Risley, an outstanding sprint swimmer, also placed first in the 100 free (46.59). The Bulldogs’ 200-yard freestyle relay team of Risley, Tim Somers, Christian Hernandez and Anthony Colon took first with a time of 1:26.20, while the 400-yard relay team of Risley, Somers, Hernandez and Kevin Garza also notched a first-place finish (3:12.79).
“The relays were really important today,” RBHS coach Todd Fridrych. “It was imperative for us to get a couple of those and gain all the points that we could out of them.”
For the third straight season, Garza qualified for state in the 100-yard backstroke (54.06). Somers earned fifth in the 50 free touching the wall at 21.69. Dominic Rosa notched third place in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:00.55.
“It’s surreal to come here and beat [Fenwick] in their own basement,” Risley said. “It was so important to our coach [Fridrych]. Fenwick has stepped on us for decades. We were all big meet swimmers today.”
Fridrych shared his team’s palpable enthusiasm about their historic accomplishment, which included setting six new schools records in addition to Risley’s aforementioned 50 free pool record.
“It’s exciting and exhilarating,” Fridrych said. “The foundation was laid several years back and now it’s starting to produce. Quinn [Risley] was on fire today. He set the tone for the rest of the team. He was a man among boys out there.”
The Bulldogs will compete in seven of the eleven swimming events at this weekend’s IHSA State Meet.
Fenwick, which had won 10 consecutive sectional titles, settled for a solid second-place showing in its home pool. Sophomore Cavan Smith placed first in the 100-yard butterfly (51.24), while the 200-yard medley relay team of Smith, Mike Hill, Conor Fabian and Zach Tieke took top honors with a time of 1:35.88. Fabian also placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:00.43).
“I’m pretty happy with the way we swam today,” Tieke said. “We wanted to get the two relays for sure because they were fast in-season. I was happy with the way I swam, but the real focus is going to be on Friday [preliminaries for the IHSA State Meet].”
Tieke tied his teammate, Hill, for third place in the 50 free (21.54), and also garnered fourth in the 100 free (47.90).
“I was happy with the 50,” Tieke said. “I was just about where I wanted to be with that one. The 100 could have been a little bit better, but I got through it and that’s the important thing.”
With Hill and Tieke back this year for the 200-yard freestyle relay, new additions Smith and Andrew Bertschy look to help keep the Friars’ relay dominance going and bounce back from a third place sectional finish (1:27.18).
“I think they’re going to step up big in the state meet,” Tieke said of his relay teammates. “They’re really excited to do well for us. Do I think we’ll match where we were last year? I think we’ll come pretty close.”
Fenwick senior David Durkin notched first place in diving with a score of 415.20, while OPRF senior Lee Werner came in second (392.30). RBHS senior Simon Kritikos (343.60) and sophomore Mac Catrambone (333.95) placed sixth and seventh, respectively, in diving.
OPRF senior Mark Hallman, the Huskies’ best sprint swimmer, notched runner-up finishes in both the 50 free (21.43) and 100 free (47.50).
“By design, he did a little bit of a different preparation coming into this meet than the rest of the team,” OPRF coach Clyde Lundgren said of Hallman. “We’re hoping to work that taper so he hits it next week. He put up some good times today, but hopefully he’ll hit it on Friday and get himself into scoring position.”
The OPRF 200-yard medley relay team of Hallman, Alex West, Jack Schimmel, James Kelly finished second with a time of 1:36.86. The 200-yard freestyle quartet of Hallman, Kelly, Chris Brandt, and Will McNiel took second with a time of 1:26.62. Kelly also claimed third in the 100 free by touching the wall at 47.78.
“From top to bottom, this was one of our best sectionals in recent memory,” Lundgren added. “Throughout our lineup, our swimmers had faster times and personal best times. It’s good to see, whether it’s making a qualifying time or getting a personal best. There’s a lot of excitement about it and a high level of satisfaction.”