Best area hopes for this weekend's IHSA boys' swimming and diving state meet, courtesy Jeff Huth
Kegan Skelton, Centennial
By all measures, the Charger senior is primed to make a serious run at the diving title in his fourth appearance at state. Skelton has finished first in all but one of the invitational meets he's entered this season. And he's coming off a remarkable performance at sectionals, scoring a Unit 4 Pool-record 540.05 points Saturday for the highest statewide score. To put that in perspective, the all-time state meet record is 537.72.
Sam Stewart, Champaign Central
Could this junior become the third Maroon to win a state title in the 100-yard butterfly, if not this year then before his career is done? Stewart legitimately raised that question with a career-best performance in the event at sectionals. His 50.18-second clocking was the second fastest statewide behind a 50.10 by Palos Hills Stagg senior Kyle Workman. Previous Central state champs in the fly were Dan Trupin (2001) and Ross Moore (2006).
Blake Lehmann, Champaign Central
This will be the junior's second trip to state but first as a qualifier in an individual event. Based on his sectional performance, Lehmann has a strong shot at making it to Saturday – when championship and consolation championship races will decide the top 12 spots – in the 50 freestyle. Lehmann dropped more than a half-second off his career best to finish in 21.51. It was the eighth-fastest sectional time statewide.
Gabe Omo-Osagie, Centennial
A decision to switch winter sports from basketball paid off with a trip to state in two individual events as well as a relay. Like Lehmann, he'll swim in the 50 and 100 freestyles. And, like Lehmann, his best chance of medaling appears to be in the shorter sprint. A career-best 21.69 clocking at sectionals was the 16th fastest statewide.
Will Holder, Centennial
The Charger senior has been a diver for three of his four prep seasons. He's never failed to advance to state in the event. Holder's familiarity with the atmosphere and pressures of state should serve him well in his final stab at qualifying for the 12-diver finals Saturday. His sectional score (408.10) was the 25th highest statewide, but a career-best score of 461.20 – set as a junior – indicates Holder is capable of reaching finals.