Boys Swimming: Lincoln-Way North poised to improve
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media November 27, 2012 9:00PM
Lincoln-Way North swimmers Cole Claypool, (from left) Jake Pearson, Tony Mikrut and Evan Surma Wednesday, November 21, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Boys Swimming 2012-13
TOP SOUTHLAND TEAMS
Sandburg: The Eagles easily were the best team in the Southland last season and among the best in Illinois, tying Hinsdale Central for fourth place at the state meet. They’ll be tough to beat again, with Mike O’Malley, David Apps, Conor Gallimore and Trevor Winans among the best.
Lockport: No. 1 swimmer Jake Knowles, along with Dan Oldendorf and diver Tyler Pastore, lead a senior-dominated team that’s expecting a very good season.
Lincoln-Way North: The Phoenix will be aiming for a second straight sectional title and third in four years, this season led by Jake Pearson and Evan Surma.
Stagg: Dominic Senese in diving and Harlan Long in the breaststroke are key returnees, and co-captain Ryan Petersen will be counted on in several events.
Lincoln-Way East: Andy Gramont is the leader back from the team that finished second to Sandburg in the SouthWest Suburban Blue.
Joe Cifelli, Marian Catholic: Tenth in the state in diving last season as a freshman.
Mitch Strahlman, Brother Rice: Returning state qualifier in 200 IM and 500 freestyle.
Kevin Kuchta, Homewood-Flossmoor: Returning qualifier in 200 IM and breaststroke.
Rick Osty, Andrew: Returning qualifier in 50 freestyle and butterfly.
Cody Moris and Ryan Kojder, Lincoln-Way Central: Moris is a returning qualifier in the backstroke; Kojder qualified in diving.
Dan Shaunnessey, Tinley Park: Returning qualifier in 100 freestyle.
Updated: December 29, 2012 6:19AM
With two sectional titles in the previous three seasons and quality talent returning from last season’s team, Lincoln-Way North is confident about adding to its growing list of accomplishments during the 2012-13 campaign.
Jake Pearson and Evan Surma, two key swimmers from the squad that won the Lincoln-Way East Sectional last season, will have plenty of support as the Phoenix tries to make an even bigger splash this time around.
“We’ve got a real strong team returning,” North coach Pat Shaughnessy said. “We should have a lot of state qualifiers this year.”
Start with Pearson, a returning qualifier in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles and a member of North’s 400 free relay that also made it to the state meet. Pearson recently committed to Division I Oakland (Mich.).
“He’s been knocking on the door at state, getting 14th and 16th in his events,” Shaughnessy said. “He’s right there about to medal. He should do that this year. He’s been doing a great job.”
Surma, a junior, qualified last season in the 100 backstroke and also was on the 400 relay that qualified for state.
“As a team, winning sectionals was really big for us last year,” Surma said. “That was what we were shooting for, that was really the epitome of our season.”
“I think we have a chance to do it again this year,” Shaughnessy said. “I think we’ve got a good shot of doing it.”
North’s coach expects senior Tony Mikrut, a state qualifier in the 100 butterfly as a sophomore, to “bounce back this year” and possibly medal at state.
Mikrut will rejoin Pearson and Cole Claypool on the 400 free relay. Surma will take the spot of the graduated Jake Roberts to again make it a solid event.
“We just keep getting stronger,” Surma said. “There’s guys that just keep getting better and keep getting better. I’ve definitely been improving my backstroke times, which is my main event.”
“It’s a yearlong thing, it’s not three months,” Shaughnessy said of the swimming commitment. “They do it all summer. In the fall they’re lifting, they’re swimming after school. They’re lifting in the morning, swimming at night. It’s a constant battle.”
North is building on the success started by Big Ten swimmers Kyler Van Swol (Minnesota) and Nick Roberts (Michigan State), whom Shaughnessy said “we still talk about.”
North has 30-plus individuals in its program — varsity and junior varsity. Shaughnessy believes that depth will help the squad’s pursuit of team titles.
The big meets in the regular season will be the Neuqua Valley Invitational on Dec. 15 and one hosted by North on Dec. 27, with Sandburg, Hinsdale South and Metea Valley. The SouthWest Suburban Red meet is Feb. 1 at North, three weeks before state.
“The first couple of weeks of swimming are really important, but after that it’s very, very mental,” Shaughnessy said. “It’s so long, and it’s such a grind that it becomes very mental toward the end.
“We always talk about ‘We swim for the end.’ We go for sectionals and state. We don’t win dual meets. We’re focusing our whole effort on the end of the season.”