Boys swimming: Cary-Grove co-op rules Fox Valley Conference Invite again for 16th title in 17 years

Trojans varsity and junior varsity teams combine to win all 22 events

Swimmers from Cary-Grove co-op celebrate with the trophy after winning the Fox Valley Conference Swimming Championships at Woodstock North High School Saturday.

WOODSTOCK – Cary-Grove co-op was in danger of not winning its first event Saturday at the Fox Valley Conference Invite with two races to go.

Senior Danny Cassidy, however, made sure that the Trojans’ streak continued with an impressive anchor swim in the junior varsity’s 400-yard free relay.

Cassidy had the swim of his life to give C-G co-op the win, and the varsity 400 free relay finished off an impressive conference sweep by taking the meet’s final event.

The Trojans took first in all 22 events to score a whopping 401.5 points and capture their 16th FVC title in 17 years.

The entire team, including coach Scott Lattyak, took a victory dip in the Woodstock North pool and passed the conference trophy back and forth, which has become a yearly tradition for the Trojans.

“We went out to try and win every event and got it done,” Lattyak said. “The JV 400 free relay was the scariest event, and honestly, Danny Cassidy was kind of the man of the hour. He just threw down an insane 100 free at the end and was able to bring it all the way back.”

Cary-Grove co-op, which also takes swimmers from Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge, had finishes of 1-2-3 in multiple events to run away with the FVC title.

Jacobs co-op was second with 233 points, followed by Huntley (193.5) in third, McHenry (174) in fourth and Woodstock North co-op in fifth (58).

Cary-Grove co-op seniors Drew Watson (CLS) and Connor Chan (CLC) and junior Noah Brereton (CLS) shared the FVC Invite’s Most Valuable Swimmer award, which is voted on by coaches. Freshman Daniel Garcia (CLS) was named Newcomer of the Year.

Watson, Chan and Brereton won two individual events each and were on the winning 200 medley relay (1:39.68) and 400 free relay (3:21.84). Kasparas Venslauskas was on the 200 medley relay, and Victor Praczkowski was on the 400 free relay.

Watson finished first in the 200 IM (1:56.90) and 100 backstroke (51.93), both under the state-qualifying times.

Drew Watson of Cary-Grove co-op swims the backstroke leg of the 200-Yard Medley Relay during the Fox Valley Conference Swimming Championships at Woodstock North High School Saturday.

“It’s our goal every year to come out and win this meet,” said Watson, who will swim next year at Miami (Ohio). “Some years are harder than others, but this is what we’ve worked toward all throughout the season. To come out here and win it means a lot, continuing that long streak that we have.”

Chan finished first in the 50 free (22.22) and 100 free (49.32). Chan and Watson were on last year’s 200 medley relay that placed 10th at state. Chan is hopeful to make it to state this year in an individual event.

“It means a lot,” he said of competing in his final high school season. “I’m proud to be a part of this team and show how much we can achieve. I’m trying to make the state cut in both the 50 and 100 free. I’m looking forward to [the possibility of] swimming on my own at state because I know it’s really special to experience it. My teammates have told me it’s really different.”

Brereton was first in the 200 free (1:46.67) and 500 free (4:47.10). His 500 free time was less than a second off the state-qualifying time.

“This shows that we’ve all put that hard work in to keep the streak going,” Brereton said. “It’s fun to work with the team and all grind together to achieve our goals. It’s just a brotherhood, it’s a fun environment.”

Garcia, who won the 100 butterfly in 56.84, said his first year of high school has been a blast.

“It feels great,” Garcia said. “It’s very exciting and a lot of adrenaline.”

Cary-Grove co-op’s Praczkowski, Miles Richmond, Logan Kane and Venslauskas teamed up to win the 200 free relay (1:30.23) and the Trojans also got a first-place swim from Mason Gaylord in the 100 breaststroke (59.93).

Luke Hackemack of Huntley celebrates after completing  the 200-Yard Freestyle during the Fox Valley Conference Swimming Championships at Woodstock North High School Saturday.

Huntley’s Luke Hackemacke tied C-G co-op’s Brendan Braser for second place in the 200 free (1:49.20) and also was second in the 100 free (50.24). Hackemacke, a senior, is going to Ball State next year and has been in contact with coaches there about joining the men’s swim team.

He said coaches at Ball State wanted to see him drop below 1:51 in the 200 free, which he achieved Saturday.

“That 200, I don’t know what happened,” Hackemacke said. “I was kind of shocked that I was able to do that. Last year, we had some of our best seniors in a while. We’re kind of in the rebuilding process, and I can see everyone’s work paying off. Everyone’s dropping times and [coach] Bryan [Sewell] has made a huge impact.

“I’m grateful for Bryan coming in last minute. We didn’t have a coach until about a week before the season, and he stepped up.”

It’s fun to work with the team and all grind together to achieve our goals. It’s just a brotherhood, it’s a fun environment.”

—  Noah Brereton, Cary-Grove co-op junior

Watson is hopeful the Trojans can make big waves at next week’s sectional meet and earn multiple state bids. Cary-Grove co-op won a sectional championship last season, but has a tough sectional assignment at Stevenson.

Watson, who placed eighth in the 200 IM and 10th in the 100 backstroke at state as a junior, is hoping to see a large group of Trojans make it to state.

“Stevenson is a powerhouse, they’ll probably be a top-five team at state,” Watson said. “So hopefully, we can take down Barrington, just go out and get those qualifying times. The state goal for me is top-five in both the 200 IM and 100 back.

“Relay-wise, we’re really pushing for our 200 free relay to make it to state this year. That would be awesome because we’d be sending the most guys we could.”

Jacobs co-op’s Luke Johnson took second in the 100 backstroke (55.65) and 200 IM (2:00.04).