DeKalb Chronicle Article about DCST's IHSA Qualifiers

Listed below is an article from the DeKalb Chronicle about DCST's IHSA state qualifiers.


In uncharted waters

By JOHN SAHLY - [email protected]

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DeKalb/Sycamore relay team members Chad Thompson (from left), Cory Page, Kei Ishimaru, and Michael Gordon take a break between laps during practice Wednesday as the prepare for today’s state meet at Evanston Township High School. (Rob Winner – [email protected])

DeKALB – The deck is overcrowded. The fans are louder and more intense and seemingly 10 times the number of any dual meet. Swimmers' times drop out of nowhere.

Welcome to the boys swimming state meet.

The DeKalb/Sycamore co-op swimming team and Kaneland's Grant Alef will be taking part in what they've waited for all season, starting today with preliminaries set to begin at 3:30 p.m. at Evanston Township High School.

Three of the DeKalb swimmers – Michael Gordon, Chad Thompson and Cory Page – have been there before, as has Alef.

For DeKalb sophomore Kei Ishimaru, who qualified in the 100-yard butterfly and is on the 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay teams, this is his first time entering an atmosphere like this for a swimming meet. His teammates know exactly what he'll face.

"Last year, I was pretty nervous," Page said. "I've never seen that many people in such a small space. It's electrifying. Before the starts, it's the loudest thing. And then when you get up on the block, you can hear a pin drop. It's something."

Ishimaru said he's looking forward to swimming in front of that kind of boisterous crowd.

"It is something, that's what I've heard," he said. "This is my first high school season, so I'm not really prepared for it. But from all the guys' feedback, it is some crazy event."

But don't confuse a lack of experience with any nervousness on the part of Ishimaru. He has taken more of an embracing outlook on the intensity of the meet.

"It's not about staying calm," he said. "It's more of that you have to work with the atmosphere. You've got to become part of it."

If Ishimaru can stick with that attitude, he'll put himself in good position to meet his goals of maintaining or beating his seed.

DeKalb coach Leah Eames said the three swimmers on her team who have been there before will be a good thing and can help Ishimaru.

"One of the big things that's too our advantage this time around is that Michael, Chad and Cory are all returning from state qualifications," Eames said. "I think that's really going to benefit us. They know what to expect. They know the environment."

Gordon is seeded seventh in the 200 individual medley and ninth in the 100 backstroke and has high hopes for this weekend.

"Last year I as just looking to make it and qualify for state and get some experience under my belt," Gordon said. "This year, I'm hoping for top 12 or make it to the finals in at least one event. That's my goal for this year and next year."