A state football champion did all he could to avoid crying near a swimming pool last weekend.
Josh Runkle failed to do so.
New Trier’s boys swimming coach — a member of a Peoria Richwoods High School Class 5A football state championship team in the 1980s — had to collect himself in front of a trio of journalists before finishing a thought at the state swimming and diving meet at Evanston Township High School on Feb. 24.
“I can’t even look at them [his seniors] now,” an emotional Runkle, with his back to NT’s seniors, said. “I came in with them [as head coach in 2014-15, also his seniors’ freshman year]. They’ve been great competitors, great kids. I’m going to miss them, all of them.
“I’d probably lose it if I look at them.
He then … lost it, briefly.
“The bus ride home is going to be hard.”
The journey his boys took in the 2017-18 season ended with a state championship — the program’s 24th. NT scored 161 points to hold off a game bunch of Lyons Township Lions (150.5).
Trevians senior Charlie Scheinfeld had another magnificent state meet, winning the 100-yard breaststroke (53.72) for the third year in a row and garnering three more golds (200 IM and as a member of the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays).
The University of Texas recruit had set the state mark in the 100 breaststroke with a 53.6 in the preliminaries session on Feb. 23.
“Such a competitor, such a horse,” Runkle said of Scheinfeld, the breaststroke leg of the state-record 200 medley unit (1:29.53 in the prelims, with seniors Patrick and Ryan Gridley and sophomore Pearce Bailey) and the anchor leg of the 400 free crew (3:01.29, with the Gridley brothers and senior Ean Vandergraaf).
Patrick Gridley silvered in the 100 backstroke (49.08) after advancing with the No. 4 time (50.27) from the previous day’s prelims.
NT’s other medal (top-12) swims last weekend: Ryan Gridley (2nd, 100 free, 45.12); Patrick Gridley (5th, 200 IM, 1:51.01); 200 free relay (5th, 1:24.41 — Bailey, junior Nick Torre, senior Pierson Ohr and Ryan Gridley); Bailey (8th, 50 free, 21.26); and Vandergraaf (10th, 500 free, 4:36.22; 12th, 200 free, 1:43.43).
Loyola Academy’s Ramblers finished 13th (37 points) at state behind sophomore Luke Maurer’s third- and fourth-place efforts in the 100 free (45.63) and 200 free (1:39.4), respectively, and the meet of senior Tommy Barr’s life. Barr touched ninth in the 50 free (21.41) and 10th in the 100 free (46.85).
“The whole weekend was fantastic; we over-performed,” Ramblers coach Mike Hengelmann said, adding each of the team’s state swim entries dropped time in the prelims. “Luke established himself as a big-time swimmer in the state. And Tommy … I thought I had seriously hurt him with a bear hug after he qualified [with a prelim clocking of 21.3] to swim [Saturday].”
LA senior Alex O’Toole placed eighth in diving (442.65 points), and the 400 relay team of Maurer, Barr, sophomore Everet Andrew and junior Benjamin Dukes finished 12th (3:10.88).
An LA relay last scored at state in 2013, Hengelmann noted.
Glenbrook North (27th place, 11 points) received a ninth-place showing (437.3 points) from junior diver Ryan Cohn and a pair of top-12 swims from junior Jake Shapiro (11th, 200 free, 1:41.48; 12th, 100 free, 47.23).
Shapiro also anchored the Spartans’ 200 medley relay (11th, 1:35.76, with juniors Ryan Purdy and Daniel Kaufman and sophomore Zander Johnson).
“Take it out fast and try to hang on,” Shapiro, a third-year state qualifier, said of his race plan for the 200 free. “I felt no pressure. The state meet is about having fun.”
Shapiro’s state-meet experience in each of his freshman and sophomore seasons ended after one day.
“The moment I walked in [on Day 2, Saturday, last weekend], I thought, ‘Wow, I get to be here with the best,’ ” Shapiro said. “Fridays at state are hectic; today [Saturday] is more controlled.”
Two Glenbrook South freshmen — Quinn Loughran and Max Iida — each swam in a consolation final at state and swam the middle legs of the Titans’ 200 medley relay (12th, 1:36.18, with sophomore Adam Zuiker and senior anchor Nick Shechtman). Loughran tied for 11th place in the 100 butterfly (50.41), and Iida placed 12th in the 100 breaststroke (58.13).
Iida is the younger brother of former Titans star and current University of Arizona freshman Sam Iida.
“I swam my heart out,” said Iida, who missed matching the school record in the 100 breaststroke last weekend by 0.25. “I won’t be as nervous next year.”
A combined four entries from Highland Park and Lake Forest high schools competed in the state prelims last weekend but did not advance to the finals session on Saturday. HP Giants junior Andrew Vorobev placed 19th in the 200 IM (1:55.76) and 32nd in the 100 fly (52.02).
LFHS sophomore Luke Lanigan finished 31st in the 500 free (4:49.2) and swam on the Scouts’ 400 free relay (25th place, 3:16.55, with senior Colin Robertson, sophomore Oliver Akintade and junior Carlos Minetti).