Jordan O’Brien said that everyone tells him that legends are born on Saturdays at the state swimming finals, not Friday.
O’Brien’s legend was indeed born Saturday. The junior became the first Metea Valley swimmer to win a state championship when he and teammate Matt Salerno finished 1-2 in the 100-yard breaststroke.
It was a fitting ending to the season as the pair has gone 1-2 in every meet they’ve swum this winter. O’Brien’s winning time of 55.88 was just .01 faster than Salerno. Both knocked off defending champion Jae Park of New Trier, who was third in 56.21.
“It was what I was expecting,” O’Brien said. “We’re always joking around like, ‘oh, we’re going to tie at state.’ Honestly, if he would have won and I got second I would still be just as happy because we’re best friends and we train together the whole time.”
O’Brien and Salerno have taken turns winning the breaststroke, but they were ranked only second and third, behind Park, after Friday’s prelims. Both were just focused on going 1-2, not the order.
“We’ve had so many good breaststrokers throughout our school history like Megan Sellers and Mike Stack and they were never able to get it done,” said Salerno, who is Metea’s first state runner-up. “So for this guy here to do it is pretty awesome and to be second right behind him is sweet.”
Salerno added a third-place finish in the 50 free and O’Brien was fourth in the 200 individual medley. Combined with Metea’s third-place showing in the 200 medley relay, enabled the Mustangs to finish seventh with 76 points, their first top-10 showing. Normal U-High won with 123 points.
Naperville Central capped a better-than-expected season by finishing fourth with 95 points, missing a trophy by 13 points.
“We had a great year,” Naperville Central coach Mike Adams said. “It started from Day One and the kids did a great job. They weren’t [highly] seeded this weekend and we went in and got a lot of kids in. I’m pleased with the effort.”
Senior Connor Lamb led the way for the Redhawks, who moved up from 35th a year ago, by taking fifth in the IM and 10th in the 500 free.
“Last year was hard because at different times we were taking our lumps, but this year we’re giving them out,” Lamb said. “We’ve got to be happy with a fourth-place finish.
“It’s hard to just miss a trophy but what you can do? I think this team has had a good year and it’s headed for even better things in the future.”
Naperville Central finished fourth in the 200 medley and 200 free relays and ninth in the 400 free relay. Sophomore Scott Piper was sixth in the 100 backstroke and seventh in the IM, while Peter Rusenas was sixth in diving, three spots ahead of Naperville North’s Thomas Peterson, and freshman Phillip Sajaev took eighth in the 100 breaststroke.
Neuqua Valley senior Drew Dvorchak went home with four medals. He was sixth in the 100 butterfly, four places ahead of Waubonsie Valley sophomore Michael Schwers, and 10th in the backstroke in addition to swimming a leg of the 200 medley relay that finished eighth and the 400 free relay which was 12th.
“I was more happy with the relays to be honest because I’ve been on a lot of relays but I’ve never gotten a relay back to finals and to be a part of that was so fun, to do it with my team and guys I love,” Dvorchak said. “Then to get two swims individually on top that, I was just really happy with it. You can’t really complain with that, four swims in finals.”