ELK GROVE – It took only two words, uttered by a swimmer with a pool-wide grin, for anybody to realize that Saturday’s 23rd Annual Wild Stallion Jamboree at Elk Grove was far from a normal invite.
“Kickboard malfunction,” Cary-Grove senior Benjamin Castro said, alluding to what prevented the Trojans from finishing first in the 200-yard 8x25 kickboard relay, the hilarious event at the end of the 11-team gathering that didn’t count in the team standings.
C-G’s octet settled for a runner-up time of 2:10.76 to champion Downers Grove North’s 2:09.05 and missed out on collecting the coveted prize of an eight-pound bag of ... Gummy Worms candy. Honest.
“A meet like this, with a lot of events you’ll never see at sectionals or at state, is good for the mind, good for the team,” Castro added.
Team Maine South emerged as the meet’s seriously good crew — based on the Hawks’ efforts in the first 15 events — by clocking first-place times in seven events and topping the field with 331 points. Runner-up C-G, which won four races, tallied 310 points, followed by Prospect (265.5 points), Whitney Young (205.5), Jacobs (185), DGN (174), Buffalo Grove (161), Rolling Meadows (155), South Elgin (146), Elk Grove (102) and Addison Trail/Willowbrook (85).
“Pretty competitive meet, across the board,” Maine South coach Don Kura said near the middle of the meet. “I like the variety it offers, and the unusual events allow me to see splits and use that info to help me form relays. I’m glad Cary-Grove is here because that’s a program that always has fast guys, as well as promising young guys.
“This meet could come down to the final event.”
It almost did. C-G led 258-257 after 12 events. Maine South retook the lead, 283-280, after the next race and then expanded its advantage to a fairly comfy 309-296 following the penultimate race (100 freestyle relay).
“I love relay meets, in general,” Trojans coach Scott Lattyak said. “This is a fun meet for our swimmers; it’s not a high-stakes one. It’s team-based, too. But the best part of it, for me, is the opportunity to go up against good teams.”
Maine South senior Andrew Lyubashenko swam on a pair of winning relays, joining Bart Kubis and Sam Sacor in the 200 (50-100-50) breaststroke (1:57.32) and Ljubomir Popovic, Dominic Mazurek and Lukas Nielson in the 200 medley relay (1:40.4).
The Hawks’ other victorious results: Mazurek, Kubis, Sean Forrest and senior Zack Wagner (200 medley class relay, 1:42.84); Mason Par, Max Fedorenko, Ben Przekota and Dragos Cozma (200 frosh/soph relay, 1:35.54); Mazurek (frosh/soph 50 free, 22.28); Fedorenko, Sacor, Forrest and Cozma (200 medley frosh/soph relay, 1:44.37); and Par, Jimmy Myer, Przekota, Kubis (100 free class relay, 44.13).
C-G’s Castro, a University of Tampa recruit, collaborated with Drew Watson, Kasparas Venslauskas and Kameron Fadden to win the 400 medley varsity relay (3:36.34) and later combined with Watson, Fadden and Dexter Zielinski to take gold in the 400 free relay (3:18.14). He secured a third top prize after helping the 400 medley relay (with Watson, Zielinski and Danial Sanahurskyj) clock a 3:48.69. Watson (yet again), Jace Kranig and Robert Morton triumphed in the 200 back (50-100-50, 1:46.72).
Prospect senior Andrew Tonkovic paced the Knights on Saturday, motoring to first place in the varsity 50 free (22.63) and anchoring a pair of winning relays — 200 fly (50-100-50, with Augustus Lapys and Tim Hays) and 300 free (50-100-50-100, with Sejin Park, Hays and Kaden Martschenko, 2:26.77).
“Nobody overthinks at a laid-back meet like this,” said Prospect coach Alfonso Lopez, whose busy club lost to Maine South on Tuesday and beat Buffalo Grove on Friday. “Every team here welcomes it.
“It’s a grueling season,” he added.
The Rolling Meadows trio of Kacper Pancerz, Russell Mathews and Emanuel Anguelov won the 350 free relay in 3:06.75.
RM’s Mustangs, who share the Elk Grove pool with the Grenadiers, hosted the meet.