Even without last year’s IHSA postseason, senior diver Harrison Nolan should become the first Riverside-Brookfield High School boys swimming and diving athlete to earn three top-five individual finishes at the state meet.
The 2020 state runner-up could become the Bulldogs’ first diving state champion and only second titlist along with John Scheda in the 50-yard freestyle in 1964.
“He’s special. He really is that good,” said first-year RBHS coach Mike Laurich of Nolan. “He’s a once-in-a-while generation kind of diver.”
Nolan won the diving competition and sophomores Drew Rosa and Cooper Marrs each won two swimming events in the Dec. 6 dual meet at Homewood-Flossmoor.
Laurich, the school’s girls swimming coach the past seven seasons, is coaching boys for the first time since being head coach at Hinsdale Central in the 1999-2000 season after nine as an assistant.
The abbreviated 2020-21 season ended March 13 with RBHS finishing third at the Independents Conference Meet behind champion Oswego co-op and Plainfield co-op.
At the 2020 state meet, Nolan (522.95 points) was second as the only top-seven sophomore or freshman after taking fifth in 2019 (480.25). Based on 2021 conference meet results, Nolan had the state’s second-highest point total.
Had there been a 2021 state meet, Rosa (200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke) also would have qualified.
Marrs, primarily a distance freestyler, is coming off his first all-state honors in cross country.
Seniors Andrew Kallas (sprint freestyle) and Luke Harder (500 free) and sophomores Hayden Marrs (sprint freestyle, butterfly) and Lucas Hedrich (back, IM) also return. Varsity newcomers include freshmen Nick Marrero (IM, breast) and Aiden Pankros (free, fly).
“It’s a pretty good group of freshmen and sophomores,” Laurich said. “If we do the work right and get a little lucky at sectionals, hopefully we’ll get a couple of people [to state] and a relay or two.”
Lyons Township returns strong squad
With a large group of seniors and three 2020 state meet competitors, including relay state champion Jack Wanless, the Lions have high expectations.
The abbreviated 2020-21 season ended with the West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet. The Lions were third behind champion Oak Park-River Forest and Hinsdale Central.
“We have a lot of returners, which is great for this season,” LTHS coach Erin Rodriguez said.
“The younger guys will learn from the older guys because they’ve been there, which we didn’t get last year [without an IHSA postseason].”
Wanless joined three seniors at the 2020 state meet to win the 200 free relay (1:22.70), the team’s first state title in that event, and was part of the fourth-place 400 free relay (3:06.91).
Seniors Aiden Foley (32nd in 100 breast, 59.81) and Alec Paras (36th in diving, 177.95) qualified individually for 2020 state and senior A.J. Vitek and Foley were part of the 200 medley relay (14th, 1:35.49). Paras joined the program as a sophomore.
Senior Colin Bade (backstroke, individual medley) and junior Quinn Collins (back, IM, relays) also return from the 2020 sectional lineup.
Varsity newcomers include senior Graeme Gantt, a sprint and middle-distance freestyler, and Alex Jackson (sprint freestyle and breast stroke) and junior Garrett Walls (fly and IM).
The Lions lost their season-opening home dual on Dec. 3 to Glenbrook North 101-85. Foley won the 100 breast, Collins won the 200 IM while Bade and Collins finished 1-2 in the 100 back. LTHS swept all three relays.
On Dec. 4, the Lions finished fourth in the Gold Division of Stevenson’s Patriot Relays (174 points), one point behind third-place Cary-Grove. Taking second were Collins, Foley, Walls and Wanless in the varsity 400 medley relay and Jackson, sophomore Jack Dillon and Foley in the 350 breast relay (50-200-200).