Vintage Moments; Naperville Central Boys Swimming Wins 2010 State Meet

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The 2009-10 boys swimming season was one for the ages in Naperville. Neuqua Valley entered the year as one of the favorites to win the IHSA state championship after finishing as the runner up to New Trier in 2009 and winning the state title in 2008.

As Naperville Sports Weekly was in the middle of Season Three, The Wildcats returned a loaded roster that season, despite the loss of 13 time state medalist, Kevin Overholt. Neuqua had All state contenders in every type of event, including Grant Betulius in the backstroke, Brian Gerber and Andrew Bratsos in the butterfly, Hans Peters in the freestyle, and future Olympic gold medalist Kevin Cordes in the breast stroke.

New Trier was going to be tough competition once again, along with Naperville Central, who brought back many swimmers from a team that finished in 5th place the previous year. Naperville North was also a strong team and a dark horse candidate to take the title. At the sectional meet, hosted by Neuqua Valley, the Redhawks gave the Wildcats all they could handle, but the Cats emerged as the sectional champs by 20 points.

At the 2010 state meet, you could tell from the opening race what teams were going to be battling for the top spots and how competitive the meet was going to be. Neuqua won the 200 Medley relay to kick off the meet, with Betulius, Gerber, Cordes and Peters holding off New Trier in second and Naperville Central in third. Less than a half second separated the three teams.

Central earned major points from junior Jeff Depew who finished in second in the 200 Individual Medley and senior Danny Tucker who took third in the 50 freestyle.

In response Neuqua Valley got two All State finishes from Andrew Bratsos who took 4th in the 100 butterfly and Hans Peters finishing 4th in the 100 freestyle.

It was still neck and neck entering 100 backstoke, which once again featured Neuqua, Central and New Trier competing for the crown. Grant Betulius edged out New Trier’s Sam Metz and Depew from Central to win the event and put the Wildcats in front.

But the see saw battle tipped back in Naperville Central’s favor after the 200 freestyle relay. The Redhawks foursome of Mark Menis, Keith Piper, Matt O’Brien, and Danny Tucker finished in 1st place to earn 10 key points. New Trier finished in third and Neuqua in 4th.

With two races to go, Kevin Cordes delivered for Neuqua Valley thanks to a second place finish in the 100-yard breast stroke. That set the stage for a winner take all 400 free relay to decide the team champion.

New Trier had the overall lead by just a point over Naperville Central, with Neuqua only two points back in third. The Wildcats in lane two got off to a good start, fighting for first with New Trier in lane one and Central further back in lane four. The Redhawks used the same four swimmers as the 200 free relay, just in a slightly different order as Menis and O’Brien swapped places.

To the final leg as Neuqua Valley anchor Andrew Bratsos held a small lead over Central’s Danny Tucker. New Trier was fading as Naperville North moved into third place. In the final 25 yards, Tucker surged into first place, touching the wall first by two tenths of a second. After the thrilling finish, head coach Mike Adams and Naperville Central won the 2010 championship by just three points over Neuqua Valley. The Wildcats took home the second place trophy for the second consecutive season, thanks to Naperville North edging New Trier in the final race. The Huskies actually ended the meet in 4th overall behind New Trier. With just five points separating the first place and third place team, the 2010 boys state swimming and diving meet is still the most competitive meet in the 90 year history of IHSA swimming.