As a youth diver, Riverside-Brookfield High School senior Harrison Nolan watched from the New Trier stands as Marian Catholic’s Joey Cifelli captured the 2015 IHSA boys swimming and diving state championship with a record-setting score.
“I looked up to him as a hero,” Nolan said.
After Nolan completed his 11th and final dive at the state finals on Feb. 26, he realized his ultimate dream.
Nolan captured his first state title and his 569.50 points broke Cifelli’s still-standing record of 555.40 in the first boys state finals held at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont.
“I’m going to remember hitting the water on that last dive, knowing that I hit the record, looking up to people in the stands screaming and then running over to give my best friends, my coaches hugs. I was under water and I was like, ‘I just did it,’ ” Nolan said.
Nolan is believed to be the 10th individual state champion in RBHS sports history. The University of Kentucky recruit is the Bulldogs’ first diving state champion and joins 50-yard freestyle champion John Scheda, who won in 1964, as their only state champ in the sport.
Nolan also is the first three-time, top-six all-state finisher for RBHS swimming or diving, doing that without a 2021 state series due to COVID restrictions. As a sophomore, Nolan finished second and was fifth in 2019.
“I think he was excited, a little nervous,” RBHS diving coach Amy Phillips said. “He wanted to have a really good meet and he might have been a little nervous about not performing as best as he could so we’re happy that he did as well as he did. He nailed every dive.”
Phillips praised Nolan as a role model for a mostly non-senior roster, including freshman diver Nate Kissel, who scored a personal-best 329.95 at sectionals.
RBHS sophomore swimmer Drew Rosa also enjoyed a breakthrough season, reaching the state meet and finishing 25th in the 200 individual medley in 1 minute, 56.30 seconds, breaking the sophomore school record of 1:56.70 he swam at sectionals.
“It was really nice to see a time drop,” Rosa said. “I think that there’s still room to improve, so I’ve got to just keep putting in the work, especially this offseason.”
LTHS 3rd at state meet
The Lyons Township High School boys swimming and diving team began officially celebrating its third-place trophy at the state finals Saturday with a group jump into the pool.
The only one missing was senior Jack Wanless, whose final contribution was a memorable one.
“I knew I had to do a belly flop,” Wanless said. “I was talking to my parents (in the lobby). It was kind of a big deal for our family. I’m the last swimmer and after 12 years, I’m finally done.”
Wanless and the Lions rode quite a wave of success. LTHS earned its first trophy since back-to-back championships and second place from 2016-18.
Led by the second-place 200-yard medley relay of junior Quinn Collins and seniors Aidan Foley, Colin Bade and Wanless (1:31.49), LTHS had five first-team all-state, top-six performances and one second-team seventh-to-12th finish.
Collins and Wanless had four all-state performances. Foley and seniors A.J. Vitek and Graeme Gantt had two.
The 200 freestyle relay of Vitek, Collins, Gantt and Wanless was third (1:23.62) and the 400 free relay of Collins, Vitek, Gantt and Wanless was fourth (3:06.24) after a season-best 3:05.90 in Friday’s preliminaries.
Individually, Foley was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (55.65), Collins was sixth in the 100 backstroke (50.32) and Wanless was seventh in the 100 free (46.23).
The Lions (99 points) were 14.5 points ahead of fourth-place Loyola Academy and only finished behind Stevenson’s first state title (167) and second-place rival Hinsdale Central (117.5).
“It went about as well as I could have hoped for and they could have hoped for. To come out of this tough meet with a trophy, just unbelievable,” LTHS coach Erin Rodriguez said.
Bade tied for 26th in the 100 breast (51.08). In diving, Paras (16th, 217.10 points) reached the top-16 semifinals, sophomore Matt Adler was 23rd (203.30) and Nazareth Academy freshman Cooper Kosanovich was 41st (169.75).