Mundelein swimmer Black cracks national record
Updated: February 27, 2013 8:09PM
WINNETKA — Mundelein senior Connor Black and Loyola senior Andrew Jovanovic brought out the greatness in each other Saturday in the state boys swimming finals, turning the 100-yard butterfly into an unprecedented spectacle in a day filled with thrilling races.
A day after both broke Matt Grevers’ state record in the fly, Black and Jovanovic staged another historic duel at New Trier. Black smashed the national record in the event to win the state championship at the expense of Jovanovic, the two-time defending champion.
Black’s time of 46.71 seconds was .49 faster than his state-record preliminary time from Friday. The old national record was 47.08, held since 2009 by Sean Fletcher of Vienna, Va.
“I knew I could do it, so I wasn’t surprised,” Black said. “I was just like, ‘Man, I’m really glad I did it.’ ”
The laid-back Black, who became just the second state champion in Mundelein history, had been runner-up four times in his career, including in the fly two years ago to Jovanovic. He swam the 50 free and 100 free last year but switched back to the fly this year deliberately to challenge Jovanovic.
The Stanford-bound Black led by .17 at the halfway point before pulling away slightly at the end. Jovanovic, a Northwestern recruit, finished in 48.11.
“I saw him on every wall and I was like, ‘Oh, geez,’ and then on that last underwater, I came up and saw that he was still under and I was just like, all right, just head down to the wall,” Black said. “Having him there is definitely important. I think we all push each other to go faster. Just knowing this was going to be the race for me this year — this was the focus knowing he was in it — is a big deal.”
Jovanovic later won the 100 backstroke in 48.25, just .04 off the state record he set on Friday, to finish his career with four state titles. He was disappointed for himself yet happy for Black.
“Someone who is that talented, you’ve just got to step back and say, ‘Wow,” Jovanovic said. “He’s a great kid. I wish him the best of luck.”
Jovanovic made one small yet costly error in the race.
“I slipped on my last wall and my coaches blatantly saw it,” he said. “I know I could have been a lot faster so I’m not happy with whatever the time was. It kind of sucks because when you have one thing go wrong with your race you’re like, ‘Arrgh.’ But it was definitely fun.”
Black earlier had posted a time of 19.95 to win the 50 free, the event in which he set the state record of 19.80 Friday. He was one of three double state champions, joining New Trier’s Reed Malone and Jae Park, who led the Trevians to the team title.
Malone, a senior, won the 200 free in 1:36.82 and the 500 free in 4:23.27, while Park captured the 200 individual medley in 1:50.04 and the 100 breaststroke in 55.86.
Park, a junior, edged Addison Trail senior Nick Zito by .01 in the IM despite being nearly a foot shorter than the 6-8 Zito, who was trying to become his school’s first state champion.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Park said. “As I turned out of the breaststroke I saw him ahead of me. At the end I knew he’s got the arm span, so I can’t just look at his head and have my head right next to him, I got to be ahead of him. So I just buried my head and swam the last 10 yards.”
“I just tried to go as fast as I could off the start and then try to hold on at the end,” Zito said. “I almost caught him. That was the best time I’ve ever gotten so I can’t be upset with it, but it’s a hollow victory.”
New Trier’s victory in the team race was anything but hollow. The Trevians lapped the field with 189 points to win their third straight state title and seventh in the past 10 years. It was New Trier’s 23rd title overall and its 50th trophy.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper Thursday to read more about the boys swimming and diving state meet.