By Marty Farmer
The Lyons Township and Oak Park and River Forest High School boys swimming teams will be seeing a lot of each other over the next several weeks.
The Huskies won the first meeting, a 114-72 dual-meet victory against the visiting Lions on Friday, Jan. 18.
The West Suburban Conference Silver Division rivals meet again on Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Lyons Township Invite and a final time on Nov. 1-2 at the West Suburban Conference Silver Division Championships.
While LTHS and Hinsdale Central have dominated the conference in recent years, the Huskies are making it a three-way race this season with their young and talented group of swimmers. Hinsdale Central edged OPRF 97-88, but the Huskies responded well with a victory against LTHS, the reigning state runner-up in Class 3A.
The Lions' best result at OPRF occurred in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The quartet of seniors Michael Walsh and Ben Lynch and juniors Jack Thorell and Bryson Breitenbucher set an OPRF pool record time of 1 minute, 27.19 seconds, topping the previous mark of 1:28.12.
Individually, Lynch placed second in two events. He recorded runner-up times of 1:53.77 in the 200-yard freestyle and 50.55 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle.
In other notable results, Thorell took second in the 50-yard freestyle, touching the wall at 22.06. Breitenbucher also earned second in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 55.06.
After the aforementioned LTHS Invite and West Suburban Conference meet are concluded, the Lions will turn their attention to sectional competition on Saturday, Feb. 16.
While the Lions will be hard pressed to match their incredible run of two state championships and a state runner-up finish over the past three years, first-year coach Erin Rodriguez is optimistic about the team's chances.
"I would like to see the team continue to hold themselves to the high expectations they've been held in the past." said Rodriguez, who replaced Scott Miller after his recent retirement. "Our team is very successful when the boys compete for each other,"
OPRF set two pool records, won every individual event and two of three relays against the Lions in the dual meet. Multiple event winners Will Raidt, Benjamin Guerrero and Diego Pareja paced the Huskies.
Raidt took first place in the 100 free with a new home pool record time of 47.16 (previously 47.22) and the 200 free in 1:45.01
Other OPRF winners included Frank Tirone (50 free/21.79), Owen Osga (100-yard breaststroke/1:04.18) and Tyler Hoyt (diving/226.90).
The Huskies' quartet of Pareja, Pedraza, Raidt and Tirone also set a new home pool record time of 1:35.29 in the 200 medley relay. The previous record was 1:37.60.