High school boys swimming: Jacobs co-op embraces challenge to repeat as FVC champs

Winning the Fox Valley Conference Boys Swimming Invitational championship with his Jacobs co-op teammates ranks at the top of senior Eric Boysen’s list of athletic achievements.

Jumping into the Woodstock North pool to celebrate with friends and coaches was pretty cool, too.

“Best thing ever,” said Boysen, a four-year varsity swimmer at Jacobs. “The look on our coaches’ faces were priceless, and the team morale was at an all-time high. It really was the best feeling in the world.”

Boysen and Jacobs co-op, which also takes swimmers from Dundee-Crown and Hampshire, are hoping for another unforgettable season in the pool. Jacobs co-op enters as defending FVC champion for the first time in a decade.

Jacobs co-op won the FVC Invite by nine points over Cary-Grove co-op and ended the Trojans’ run of 10 straight FVC championships. Boysen is hopeful that last season’s title will motivate his teammates this season.

But winning conference again won’t be easy.

Cary-Grove co-op, which also takes swimmers from Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge, returns a strong team that third-year coach Scott Lattyak believes ranks up there with some of the most talented in program history.

The Trojans qualified two relays to state last year and have five state swimmers back, led by seniors Kolin Fadden (C-G) and Cameron Castro (South). Prairie Ridge’s Noah Siegmeier, Hunter Jackson and Peyton Richardson also went in relays.

Ben Castro, a freshman at Crystal Lake Central, also will be one of the team’s top swimmers, Lattyak said.

Jacobs co-op hosts Cary-Grove co-op in an FVC dual for the first time in five years Jan. 8. The past five have been at Sage YMCA in Crystal Lake.

Boysen is excited for the challenge.

“We’ve been rivals with Cary-Grove forever, so it was nice to finally get them once,” Boysen said. “Being defending champs will put a lot more pressure on the team, but hopefully it will encourage the guys to try harder and push harder.”

Jacobs co-op didn’t send any swimmers to state last year, but first-year coach Molly Gomberg, a 2007 Crystal Lake Central graduate who previously coached the girls varsity team at Woodstock, sees a lot of potential.

“I’m excited to get started,” Gomberg said. “The cool thing about this team is that I used to coach club in the area, and some kids I’ve known since they were as little as 4 or 5 years old. I know we lost some key seniors last year, but this is a hardworking group. They are internally driven, which is kind of cool to see as a coach. They already have goals and expectations in place.”

Gomberg is optimistic the team can produce multiple state qualifiers.

Vince Chiappetta (Jacobs) captured the 500-yard freestyle title at last year’s FVC Invite, in which Jacobs co-op won six of 11 events. Boysen and Alex Le were half of the winning 200 medley relay, and Boysen was runner-up in the 100 butterfly behind Woodstock North co-op’s Quinn Cynor, who earned 2018 Northwest Herald Boys Swimmer of the Year honors as a freshman.

Jacobs co-op’s Elijah Stuart and Harold Ogaban shared the Most Valuable Swimmer award with Cynor at last year’s conference meet. Stuart graduated, and Ogaban did not go out for the team this year.

Junior Alec Orndahl (D-C) earned FVC Newcomer of the Year in 2017 and Jacob Carignan (Hampshire), Le (Jacobs), Caden Waddell (Jacobs), and Nate Herrera (Jacobs) also return.

“I feel like we’re a lot more motivated and ready to go,” Orndahl said. “We’re all working harder and feeding off each other. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but last year showed what we’re capable of.”

Jacobs co-op started the year with a runner-up finish in the IMSA Invitational on Nov. 30 and placed first in the St. Viator Invitational on Wednesday with the team claiming the top spot in 6 of 11 events.

“People are coming to practice motivated and ready to work hard,” Chiappetta said. “It’s also fun because everybody is like, ‘Let’s go,’ and meets are especially fun because everyone is all in the racing spirit.”

What would it mean to win the FVC championship again?

“There aren’t many words to describe it,” Chiappetta said.

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