WOODSTOCK – Away from a pool, the Cary-Grove co-op swimmers might look silly.
The swimmers bleached their hair for Saturday's Fox Valley Conference Invitational, and each had a different design shaved into his head. Some had only half a head of hair, while others went with circular designs. One even shaved sunglasses into the back of his head.
"It's a tradition," said Trojans swimmer Adam Eibel while sporting a bleached-blonde mohawk. "It's a really good thing for team bonding, and it helps us get pumped up."
The Trojans stayed true to tradition and had another opportunity to bond at the end of the meet when the swimmers hopped into the pool with the FVC trophy in hand after winning conference with 283 points. It was the seventh consecutive conference title for the Trojans.
C-G co-op held off Huntley, which placed second with 266 points, and Jacobs co-op (255) took third. McHenry was fourth with 223 and host Woodstock co-op finished fifth with 89 points.
The Trojans' depth carried them to another conference title, as they won only one event – the 200-yard individual medley, in which they took first and second.
Eibel finished in 2:04.00, while teammate Mitch Robak finished in 2:05.09. Robak, who attends Prairie Ridge, set the Prairie Ridge record in the event.
Although the Trojans celebrated their conference title, many area swimmers had reasons to be happy. Jacobs co-op distance swimmer Alex Reinbrecht set meet records in the 200 and 500 freestyle and swam faster than the state cut in both events.
"This is my senior year, and I wanted to set a record, and hopefully it stays for a while," Reinbrecht said.
The senior and three-time state qualifier finished the 200 freestyle in 1:43.92, almost two seconds faster than the state cut, and swam the 500 freestyle in 4:43.07, more than four seconds faster than the state standard.
While Reinbrecht was setting records, teammate Francis Ogaban was having the best meet of his career. The sophomore found himself just seven-tenths of a second off the state standard in the 100 freestyle after winning in 48.79. Ogaban hadn't been under 50 seconds in that race before Saturday.
"Francis had a tremendous meet," Jacobs co-op coach Rick Andresen said. "There is a good chance he can make state in two events."
Ogaban's other shot at making state is in the 100 backstroke. He won Saturday's race in 54.05, just .01 off the standard.
"It just felt really good," Ogaban said. "I'm pretty confident after my swims here and hopefully I can get two state cuts next week."
Reinbrecht and Ogaban were named co-Most Outstanding Swimmers for their performances, while C-G co-op swimmer Ethan Hare was awarded Newcomer of the Year.
Alhough some swimmers swam state cuts Saturday, they will have to do it again during their respective sectional meets Feb. 22. Ask John Cazel how tough that is. The Huntley sophomore swam a state cut in the 100 breaststroke during last year's conference meet but failed to do so the following week at sectionals and missed state.
This season, Cazel finds himself in the same situation after winning the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.27 – four-tenths of a second faster than the state standard.
"It's really exciting to see that time," Cazel said. "Hopefully, I can drop some more time at sectionals, but seeing that time makes me feel a lot better about the season."
Cazel's teammate Bryan Haage was one second off the standard in the 100 freestyle, and Red Raiders coach George Keenan knows where he can make up the time.
"He took a breath right before his turn at the wall and that's what cost him," Keenan said.