Big Breakthrough for Vernon Hills

By Phelps, John | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 22, 2015 | Go to article overview

Big Breakthrough for Vernon Hills


Phelps, John, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: John Phelps Daily Herald Corrrespondent

From hugs to heartbreak, the gamut of emotions were on their usual display Saturday afternoon in the Vernon Hills boys swimming sectional meet.

As far as the hugs, there were plenty to go around, especially after Vernon Hills' junior Brian Rabinowitz had just finished second in the 100-yard backstroke and qualified for next weekend's state meet at New Trier.

"I just missed in the previous three events today, but this definitely makes up for it," said Rabinowitz, who swam a 53.50. "It feels great to finally end the drought. I was a little worried coming in, but I just trusted my training. I'd love to get a 53 or lower (at state)."

The drought Rabinowitz mentioned refers to a four-year absence since Vernon Hills has had a state qualifier in boys swimming.

"It does feel great to qualify and represent my school," reflected senior Conrad Kocoj, who will join his running mate in Winnetka after qualifying in two events. "I was a little more serious and trained harder this past year. We do visualization techniques in our training and that helps prevent errors, from making good turns and things like that."

Kocoj ended up second in the 50 free (21.49) and fourth in the 100 free (47.74). Both were season-best times. As a team, Vernon Hills finished fifth out of 12 teams with 152 points.

Some of the heartbreak part of the equation happened with Libertyville, which still had a solid meet in finishing second with 226 points.

In the very first event of the afternoon, the 200 medley relay team of Noah Jamison, Mark Boynton, Justin Fu, and Eric Turner finished second with a time of 1:37.96. The state standard was 1:37.95.

"That was saddening and heartbreaking," said Libertyville senior and Princeton-bound Matt Harrington. "After we just missed, I just tried to help motivate the guys and build up the team dynamic."

Harrington, no stranger to state having excelled there multiple times since freshman year, erased some of the sting by finishing second in the very next event, the 200 freestyle. His time of 1:40.06 was a school record and a season-best effort. Harrington also qualified in the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.74, and he will join Fu, Turner and Jamison on the winning 200 freestyle relay (1:26.63) and on the 400 freestyle relay, where they were second (3:10. …

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