Naperville North repeats as DuPage Valley Conference champs

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For Naperville North’s Sam Hiller it was a perfect day, and thanks to Sam Hiller the DuPage Valley Conference meet was a little less than perfect for his best friend and teammate Eric Curia.

Both Hiller and Curia swam on the Huskies’ victorious 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams and Hiller won the 100 backstroke, while Curia touched first in the 500 freestyle.

But both were entered in the 200 freestyle, and that decision went to Hiller who finished in 1:48.18 just ahead of Curia’s 1:48.48.

The two, who are among the returning mainstays from last year’s Huskies team that finished second at state, were instrumental in Naperville North winning its second straight DuPage Valley Conference championship on Saturday by a tiny 305 to 303 margin over Naperville Central. Wheaton Co-op finished third with 245 points.

And the outcome wasn’t settled until the final event, 400 freestyle relay, that saw the Redhawks finish third behind the Huskies and Wheaton Co-op.

Wheaton Co-op finished that race in 3:20.97 to the Redhawks in 3:21.31 to account for Naperville North’s margin of victory.

According to official scorers if Naperville Central had come in second in that race the two Naperville schools would have been tied for the conference championship.

“The Napervilles are always on top of the DVC,” said J.T. Simoneau, a member of the Wheaton relay team, who also won the 100 freestyle. “It’s always good to beat either one of them at anything. It was exciting to finish second ahead of Naperville Central.”

The 200 freestyle race was a study in the contrasting styles of Hiller and Curia.

“I try to go out fast and hang on,” said Curia. “Sam ‘backhalfs’ it, pacing himself the first half and then he goes fast in the second half. Today, he caught me and outtouched me.”

Both were state qualifiers last year, but Hiller swam the 200 IM, but he decided to give the 200 freestyle a go in his senior year, even though it put him into direct competition with his friend.

“One of my favorite things to do is race against Eric,” said Hiller. “In the pool I’m thinking ‘don’t let Eric beat you, don’t let Eric beat you.’ But we’re still best friends. He keeps me focused and motivated.”

“When I heard that Sam wanted to do one of my events this year, I was excited because I love to swim with him,” said Curia. “It’s OK to share the glory.”

Both had high praise for their teammates on the 200 free relay — John Moosemiller and Steven Missak — and for Missak and Andrew Rocco who joined them on the victory stand in the 400 free relay. And they also cited fellow tri-captain Kevin Kielma, who won the 100 butterfly.

According to Naperville North coach Andy McWhirter, the Huskies’ swim of the day was turned in by Moosemiller, who finished second in the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.42 to Naperville Central’s Connor Lamb, whose time was 1:02.71

“John finishing second In that race was also important to our narrow victory,” said McWhirter. “All in all it was a fine meet for us with many of our underclassmen having terrific time drops. We’re going to be fantastic when everyone is tapered or somewhat tapered for sectionals in two weeks.”

Naperville Central’s Lamb was also one of the stars of the day, winning the breaststroke and the 200 individual medley and joining Lucas Harder, David Johnson and Matt Vanderkolk on the winning 200 medley relay team.

Redhawks Peter Rusenas and Joe Gucwa finished one-two in the diving competition.

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