Boys Swimming & Diving: Andrew’s Kyle Fitzgerald, Marian Catholic’s Joey Cifelli sparkle on Day 1 of state finals
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media February 28, 2014 8:48PM
Evanston Friday, 2/28/14 Stagg's Zack Amendola swimming the third leg of the 200-yard Medley Relay during Friday's preliminary heats at the state meet hosted by Evanston High School. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 3, 2014 6:49AM
Andrew’s Kyle Fitzgerald couldn’t believe it when the state finalists in the 200-yard freestyle were posted on the scoreboard.
“I’m fifth?’’ an obviously excited Fitzgerald said as he looked up at the results. “Oh, my God. Oh, my God. That’s awesome.’’
Fitzgerald’s personal best time of 1 minute, 41.68 seconds was the fifth-best 200 free mark Friday at Evanston and earned him a spot in Saturday’s final.
“I knew I had a fast time, but I didn’t know I was going to be fifth,’’ Fitzgerald said. “The difference between this meet and sectionals, with all these people and swimming against the fastest guys in the state, it pushed me to a bigger level.’’
The 200 free had seven preliminary heats and Fitzgerald was second in his six-person heat to Peoria Notre Dame’s Matt Kamin (1:41.44).
“My goal was the top 12,’’ Fitzgerald said. “It was conference, sectional and a state medal.’’
He also wasn’t done. Fitzgerald, a senior, came back four events later and made the final of the 100 free with the fifth-best prelim time of 46.16.
“Kyle made top six in two events,’’ Andrew coach Frank Muchna said. “You couldn’t ask for anything better than that.’’
Marian Catholic’s Joey Cifelli may leave Evanston on Saturday with a state championship. The junior diver leads the competition after the semifinals with 346.50 points. Loyola’s Christopher Canning was second going into the finals (319.40).
Cifelli was state runner-up last year after finishing 10th as a freshman.
Brother Rice’s Mitch Strahlman made the consolation finals of the 200 individual medley and the 500 free for the second year in a row.
“It’s a great feeling,’’ Strahlman said. “An even better feeling is I made some mistakes through my (IM) race and I have a lot to improve on for Saturday in that race.’’
The All-State senior clocked 1:54.31 in the IM prelims, tying his personal best. It was good enough to earn the 10th qualifying spot.
Strahlman was the 10th qualifier in the 500 free (4:38.76), a fraction behind Lincoln-Way East sophomore Patrick Hackett (4:38.75).
Stagg’s Zack Amendola also made the consolation finals in two events, qualifying 11th in the 100 butterfly (51.14) and 12th in the 100 backstroke (51.78).
“I am happy. Although they’re 11th and 12th, those were my goals,’’ Amendola said of making All-State.
Stagg freshman Lucas Smiarowski claimed the last spot for the 200 IM consolation final, clocking 1:55.38 in the prelims.
“I was looking at my times and other people’s times and thought I had no chance of making it,’’ Smiarowski said. “When I saw my name on the board, it was amazing.’’
Brother Rice’s James Ryan qualified 10th in the 100 breaststroke (58.73) to earn a place in the consolation final.
The prelims ended on a high note for Andrew and Stagg. Their 400 free relays earned All-State status by making it to Saturday — Andrew was 10th (3:10.74) and Stagg 12th (3:11.31).
“We snuck in that 400 free relay. That’s huge for us,’’ Stagg coach Jason Carr said.
Asked about his team’s day, Muchna said: “Outstanding.’’