Last week, prior to the start of the boys swimming and diving season, Morris head coach Andrew Porth touted depth as an expected strength of his Redskins.
That depth may have been the difference Thursday as the varsity Redskins defeated Pontiac 113-72 in their home opener. Morris had the advantage in sheer numbers, with seven relay teams and 24 individuals contributing to its score to Pontiac's four teams and 23 individuals. But the Redskins also showed the ability to compensate for some last-minute adversity.
"I was very proud of our effort tonight. We had a lot of boys step up and fill in for a few guys that were out with illness," Porth said. "I'm proud of Anthony Ascolani. I felt he stepped up and led us, and Zach Harper did as well."
Ascolani was a part of three Morris wins. He swam the first leg of the 200-meter freestyle relay, where he, Jackson Riley, Jordan Ramirez and Jacob MacLean finished in 1:53.58. In the 200-meter medley relay, where Riley, Harper, Ascolani and MacLean finished in 2:09.95, Ascolani had the third leg. As an individual, he was first in the 100-meter butterfly, with a time of 1:09.67, and second in the 200-meter freestyle, with a time of 2:28.29.
Harper was part of a second relay, teaming with Justin Lizalek, Eric Vacca and Ramirez to take second in the 400-meter freestyle, with a time of 4:50.72. He added an individual win in the 100-meter breaststroke, which he finished in 1:23.64.
"I've surprised myself with how well I've been swimming it since the beginning of the year," Harper said of the 100 breast, which he is in his third season of swimming for the Redskins. "My times are down. I feel good about how it's going."
MacLean was one of three individual double-winners for the Redskins, as he contributed first-place times of 2:20.42 in the 200-meter freestyle and 5:00.93 in the 400-meter freestyle. Ramirez had winning times of 1:04.20 in the 100-meter freestyle and 27.48 in the 50-meter freestyle. Riley finished the 100-meter backstroke in 1:12.14 and the 200-meter individual medley in 2:39.84 to win both events.
"My times dropped a lot (since Tuesday's opener at Joliet Central)," MacLean said. "You have to fight through fatigue, especially doing the longer events. It's a lot tougher to swim the (400) than the 50."
Justin Lizalek, Michael Grommen, Alex Magers and Eric Vacca were runners-up in the 200-medley relay, with a time of 2:26.53, for Morris. Vacca added a pair of second-place individual times — a 30.96 in the 50 free and a 1:11.94 in the 100 free. Joey Perez accumulated a score of 115.10 in diving for second place.
"Everyone was cheering each other on. We did a good job of being supportive," MacLean said. "Everyone was cheering and into it and having fun. It was a good night for us."
The Redskins swept relays, with Lucus Terhall, Adam Roseland, Drew Kirkman and Jon Smyk winning the 200 medley (2:51.15), Jacob Davids, Jacob Kosinski, Riley Aukland and Roseland winning the 200 free (2:32.00) and Matt Borgstrom, Davids, Sam S. Rhodes and Luke Smith winning the 400 free (5:56.95).
Individual winners from Morris were Smyk in the 50 free (35.46) and the 100 free (1:23.50), Terhall in the 200 free (3:26.70) and the 500 free (5:26.73), Rhodes in the 200 IM (1:45.97) and Roseland in the 100 breast (45.08).