The Class of 2015 has already assured itself of leaving an impressive legacy in the annals of the Riverside-Brookfield High School boys swimming program, not the least of which is being the fastest team in school history.
So it was only appropriate that the seniors would deliver another thrilling finish in their final competition in their own pool.
The Bulldogs needed a third-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay in order to win Saturday’s Independent Conference meet and that’s exactly what they got. The quartet of Kevin Garza, Christian Hernandez, Tim Walsh and Quinn Risley timed 3:17.81 to capture third.
That was enough to give RBHS its second straight conference championship by a wafer-thin margin. The Bulldogs won the six-team meet with 276 points, while DeKalb, which won that last relay in a pool-record 3:15.21, was second with 272.5. Plainfield (236), Oswego (233), Morris (136.5) and Fenton (60) rounded out the field.
“It’s absolutely huge for us,” RBHS senior Anthony Colon said. “I definitely think that having the home pool advantage helped us to step up our game because all of us are tired and we’re just trying to push through it.
“I think we had the boost of the meet being so close as well. We knew that there were fast teams coming in. We all came together to cheer each other on. Since we have that conference win, I think that’s going to elevate us for sectionals.”
RBHS coach Todd Fridrych was impressed with how his swimmers pulled out a championship even though they were tired and more focused on the state series that begins Feb. 21 with the York Sectional.
“This is a meet more or less for our JV guys than it is for varsity, but it’s a really nice win,” Fridrych said. “We put some eggs in this basket but we don’t put a lot of eggs in this basket. Our focus is on sectionals and state this year. That’s our main objective.
“So we’re happy to win [conference]. We’re excited about it, but if it didn’t happen, I don’t think we would have lost any sleep over it.”
Even so, the Bulldogs had plenty to get excited about. The most notable accomplishment was the 200 freestyle relay setting the pool record. Joey Rosa, Colon, Christian Hernandez and Risley timed 1:28.24, which is the third-fastest time in the state this season.
“It’s definitely sad to think that it’s the last race that I’d be having in the pool today, but it went out with a bang,” Colon said. “My last race, being able to break the pool record with Joey and Quinn and Christian [Hernandez], that was just beautiful. I loved it.”
While Risley was the only Bulldog to win an individual league title, capturing the 50 free in 21.22, there were plenty of top-6 finishes.
Risley was second in the 100 free (47.12), while Colon was fifth in the 200 free (1:51.88) sixth in the 100 butterfly (56.38) and Rosa was fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:05.92) and sixth in the 500 free (5:10.51).
Rosa, whose senior brother Dominic was sixth in the 200 IM (2:10.38), is a rising star who will be one of the team leaders next year.
“I definitely think that Joey is at such of a high level right now,” Colon said. “Especially looking back at where I was [as a sophomore], I think that Joey is at the same level or even higher than I was.”
“It’s great knowing that even though I’m an underclassman, I still contributed to this win,” Joey Rosa said. “It feels great to be able to contribute. This is such a great senior class.”
So what is the secret to their success? Joey Rosa said it is familiarity.
“Quinn, Tim Walsh, Dominic Rosa, myself, Anthony Colon, Kevin Garza Christian Hernandez, we’ve all been swimming together for almost 10 years now with the Riverside-Brookfield Otters,” Rosa said. “We’ve all swum together for a long time. That generation is getting really fast.
“Overall, we’re faster this year. We did lose a good senior in Tim Somers, but I think overall the rest of us have improved a lot and hopefully we can compensate for that loss.”
In other results, Garza broke his own pool record in the 100 butterfly but finished third (51.86) as DeKalb’s Daniel Hein set the new mark of 49.90. Garza later finished fourth in the 100 backstroke (56.61), two spots ahead of Walsh (58.84), who was fifth in the 500 free (5:06.77).
Christian Chavez placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.45), with all three swimmers who beat him breaking Risley’s pool record of 59.96. Plainfield Co-op’s Brandon Tran is the new record-holder at 58.65. Hernandez was sixth in the 100 free (51.19) and the 200 medley squad of Walsh, Chavez, Garza and Ridley took third (1:40.88).