The format of Saturday’s Mustang Invite at Metea Valley definitely favored the superior depth of a team like Neuqua Valley.
The Wildcats, who didn’t win a varsity event but had multiple entries finish high in most swims, took the championship of the hotly-contested meet to edge Waubonsie Valley 478-475. Naperville Central and Naperville North tied for third with 444 and Metea Valley was fifth with 406.
The invite used championship scoring which awarded points to the top-16 finishers in an event, and each team was allowed four entries in every contest. Neuqua won two of the three freshman relays, which figured in the team scores.
“We knew we had the depth to get a lot of points,” said Neuqua Valley coach Chad Allen. “So we just kind of hung in there the whole day. We may not be as strong on top as other teams, but we did a good job across the board and everybody on our team got the chance to compete. Our guys haven’t won an invite in a while, so it’s nice to get back on top. This was a total team effort.”
Second-place Waubonsie Valley missed the opportunity for the team title by finishing second to Naperville North in the 400 freestyle relay, the final event.
But the Warriors showed that strong talent at the top of the lineup with an impressive and expanding nucleus of stars and rising stars.
Adam Stacklin was at the head of parade for the Warriors on Saturday, winning both the 100 and 200 freestyle races. He was also a member, along with Michael McWhirter, Kelvin Newton and Stephen Ernst, of the winning 200 free relay team that nosed out Metea Valley 1:28.86 to 1:29.00.
The 400 free relay team that finished second included McWhirter, Nathan Morris, Bailey York and Stacklin. York got his first under-50 split in that race.
“We had a lot of impressive swims today,” said Waubonsie Valley coach Nick Arens. “Our freshmen were great. Tag Lohman had lifetime bests in the 100 fly and the 500 free, and Michael Schwers and Reilly Devine both swam a 23 in the freshman 200 free relay.”
Naperville North was led by seniors Sam Hiller, who won the 100 backstroke, and Eric Curia who won the 500 freestyle. And those two joined Steven Missak and Andrew Rocco on the winning 400 freestyle relay team.
“The first three guys did so great that I didn’t want to be the person to lose it,” said anchorman Hiller.
Naperville Central’s Connor Lamb was first in the 200 IM.
Host Metea Valley got the invite off to a rousing start as Peter Rodriguez won Friday’s diving competition, the team of Trevor Sandberg, Jordan O’Brien, Matt Salerno and Alex Gidlow took the gold in the 200 medley relay and Salerno won the 50 freestyle.