Loyola head coach Mike Hengelmann considered Saturday’s sectional meet at Niles North a success.
Headlined by junior Luke Maurer, who won two individual events, five Ramblers advanced in seven events.
“We had a really, really nice day,” Hengelmann said. “We always find the magic at that meet. Even with the snow days and losing a lot of practice time, we were still able to get big time drops.”
Maurer finished first in both the 100-yard freestyle (46.12 seconds) and 200-yard freestyle (1:39.86). He also contributed to wins in the 200 freestyle relay (1:26.02) and 400 freestyle relay (3:09.89).
First-place finishers and those who surpassed the state-qualifying times earned trips to the state meet, which is Friday and Saturday at New Trier.
In his third appearance at the state meet, Maurer is the top seed in the 200 free and eighth in the 100 free. Hengelmann marveled at Maurer’s 20.2 split in the opening leg of the 200 free relay. The time was faster than the program record, held by Andrew Jovanovic (Class of 2013).
“That shows you how much pride Luke takes in the relays and the team aspect of swimming,” Hengelmann said. “I love guys like that, ones who find that extra gear for three other guys.”
As a sophomore, Maurer took third in the 100 freestyle and fourth in the 200 freestyle at the state meet. He’s looking to become Loyola’s first individual state champion since 2013 when Jovanovic won the 100 backstroke as a senior.
Maurer’s father, Erik Maurer (Class of 1989), was a four-time individual state champion, wining the 100 free twice and 200 free twice. Luke’s uncle, Greg Maurer (Class of 1991), won a state title in the 500 free.
“He’s primed and ready to go,” Hengelmann said.
Luke was joined by senior Ben Dukes, junior Everet Andrew and freshman Lachlan Andrew on the 200 free relay, which swam the eighth-fastest time at the 16 sectionals. Maurer, Dukes and Everet swam with freshman Demetrios Zemenides on the 400 free relay, clocking the 10th-best time at sectionals.
Everet was Loyola’s other individual winner at Niles North, taking first in the 500 freestyle (4:41.22). He also qualified in the 200 freestyle (1:43.15). Dukes took second in the 500 freestyle (4:42.76) to secure his second consecutive trip to the state meet in the event.
“We did what we needed to do by getting the big guys through in their individual events and getting through in those relays,” Hengelmann said. “We also set ourselves up for the future.”
Dukes was the only senior in Loyola’s 10-swimmer sectional lineup. Joining the state-qualifiers at Niles North were junior Noah Zahn, sophomore Step Flanagan and freshman Jimmy Dukes, freshman Andy Kelly and freshman PJ Spagnolo.
No matter what happens at the state meet, the experience Zemenides and Lachlan will get competing at New Trier will be invaluable to them, according to Hengelmann.
“That’s a big deal,” he said. “I expect these guys to be a big part of the team in the years to come, so it’s important to get that first state meet out of the way. But neither one looked rattled by the pressure at the sectional. They knocked it out of the park.”