EVANSTON – Woodstock North co-op's Quinn Cynor came into the Boys Swimming and Diving State Championships as the the only freshman under coach Ian Shanahan to qualify for two events in 15 years.
Cynor, 15, got his first taste of high school's biggest stage Friday, racing in the 100-yard butterfly and 500 freestyle. The Woodstock freshman was unable to advance to Saturday's finals in either event, however, taking 22nd in the 500 and 34th in the fly in the preliminary heats.
The top 12 in each event advance. Cynor had the ninth-fastest seed time in the 500 free (4:38.71). He finished in 4:44.47 Friday. Peoria Notre Dame's Colton Paulson took first, winning with a time of 4:20.86.
In the fly, Cynor finished with a time of 52.18. St. Viator's Micah Balcerak finished first in 48.48.
Cynor said he wanted to advance to Saturday's finals, but he wasn't discouraged by the results. He was 4.37 seconds behind 12th place in the 500, the event he felt best at possibly advancing.
"I didn't swim like I wanted today, but I've still got three more opportunities in the future," Cynor said. "I wanted to final, but that didn't happen, and that's alright. ... I felt somewhat tired. I don't know why, but that's OK."
Cynor was trying to become the first Woodstock North co-op medalist since Brenden Dougherty and Brian Spittler in 2006.
"Some people had huge time drops, and that was expected," Shanahan said. "People who don't shave and taper to make the state-qualifying time, that's a huge advantage for them. But he did good. He battled, so now he's seen it and next year, hopefully, he'll make the state time without doing that (shave and taper at sectionals). He'll make state his last-of-the-year meet."
"You just see how fast this meet is. You see how fast the state is. It just gives him something to shoot for because he swims all year long. He knows how fast people go now, and what it takes. Next year for sure, he'll try and be top 12."
Shanahan said he expects Cynor to come back physically stronger – and faster – next season.
"I told him after, he swims really well for his age," Shanahan said. "His style is very impressive. As he gets bigger and stronger, he's going to get faster and faster."
Cynor said he enjoyed his first state meet and was not rattled by being there as a freshman.
"It was really fun," Cynor said of his first state experience. "There's really not much to worry about if you're having fun. Times are times, you can do times anywhere, and become great anywhere."
Cary-Grove co-op qualified for state in two events: the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay. Neither advanced to Saturday's finals.
The 200 medley relay of Noah Siegmeier (Prairie Ridge), Hunter Jackson (Prairie Ridge), Peyton Richardson (Prairie Ridge) and Kolin Fadden (C-G) finished 28th of 31 teams with a time of 1:39.05.
It was Richardson's first state meet after watching last season from the stands.
"It was very different from the rest of the meets," Richardson said. "But it was a great experience to be down here. It's a lot different down on the deck; it's very exciting. I was a little disappointed, but we did have a great sectional performance. We all gave it our best."
The Trojans' 200 free relay team of Omid Babakhani (Crystal Lake Central), Cameron Castro (Crystal Lake South), Connor Dolezal (C-G) and Fadden finished 31st of 37 teams with a time of 1:28.76.
It was the third straight season the Trojans advanced the 200 free relay to state. It also was the final high school race for seniors Babakhani and Dolezal.
"It's always a crazy environment," Babakhani said. "The noise always comes down on you. It's really exciting. It can break a couple of kids, but I love it. It's what I swim for. I was disappointed in my own time today ... but it's swimming. You go out, try your best, and get what you give that day."
Babakhani said he is looking forward to seeing what the returning swimmers can do next year.
"It meant a lot to me. I've been with these guys so long," Babakhani said. "They're like my brothers. It was a little emotional behind the block today. I was kind of getting in my head. I've been swimming for eight years, and to see it come to an end, it's impossible to put into words. Every year, I look at the kids, and I couldn't do that in my wildest dreams when I was in eighth grade.
"I think this program is headed to great places. The sky is the limit for this team. It's exciting."