The Lyons Township High School boys swimming team enters sectional competition brimming with confidence.
LTHS, which will host a sectional on Saturday, Feb. 20, tuned up for the postseason by winning the West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet in on Feb. 6.
The Lions finished first with 308 points, followed by Hinsdale Central (258), Oak Park and River Forest (227), Glenbard West (169), Downers Grove North (153) and York (139).
The conference championship marked the fifth overall and third outright for LTHS. The Lions also claimed outright titles in 1992 and 2008 and shared championships with Hinsdale Central in 2007 and 2015.
“I think it is huge (winning conference) because all four of my years, Hinsdale has always been in our sights,” LTHS senior Chris Phillips said. “It’s always been a team goal to after Hinsdale because they’ve been a top team in the state for years now.
“I’ve been working towards this one, cumulative goal and we finally get to reach it now. It just means a lot to everybody, especially to Coach (Scott) Walker.”
A highlight of the conference meet was the Lions’ 200-yard medley relay team of sophomore Spencer Walker, senior Weston Credit, sophomore Henry Claesson and junior Ryan Hammond. The quartet won their race in a meet and pool record time of 1:36.43 (breaking the previous meet record of 1:37.31 by OPRF).
“Any time you break a record in this historic conference is huge,” Scott Walker said. “They also beat the pool record here, too, which I didn’t know until in the middle of the meet.”
LTHS also placed first in the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relays, In the 200, Ben Breitenbucher, Hammond, Matt Linden and Claesson recorded a time of 1:28.53, while Breitenbucher, Hammond, Credit and Claesson finished at 3:15.34 in the 400.
Junior diver Seamus Scotty turned in a tremendous effort with a personal-best 510.30 for 11 dives. Scotty, who also won a conference title in 2015, set the 6-dive school record (335.80) vs. Glenbard West on Jan. 20 which broke a 20-plus year record.
Other first-place finishers included Jeff Vitek in the 100-yard butterfly (55.39), Phillips in the 200 IM (2:01.36), Breitenbucher in the 50 free (22.73), Claesson in the 100 free (48.29) and Spencer Walker in the 500 free (4:51.73).
“I was super happy with that because we’re not swimming for times (at the conference meet),” Phillips said about his individual victory. “We’re swimming for the team. We’re just trying to rank as high as we can against the other swimmers from the other schools because than that turns into points. Those points turn into reaching the conference title.
“Even though it wasn’t my best time, it felt great to get the conference title and win especially with Weston Credit right by my side (in second place).”
As for the Lions state meet aspirations, expectations are understandably high.
“It’s setting into place,” Scott Walker said. “I personally try not to think about it that much because I’ll probably have a heart attack.
“Being top 10 is extremely tough. Can we go top 5? That would be outstanding. If we go top 3, it’s a bonus.”
-Bill Stone contributed to this story.