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Mundelein's Connor Black celebrates his record-setting time of 19.80 in the 50 freestyle at the preliminary round of the state finals on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 at New Trier. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
The most iconic name in the history of Illinois high school swimming has been erased from the IHSA record books.
Connor Black and Andrew Jovanovic made it so by breaking the last two state records held by Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers during the preliminary round of the state finals Friday at New Trier.
Black, a Mundelein senior, timed 19.80 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle to take down Grevers’ state record of 19.83. Loyola senior Jovanovic then erased the former Lake Forest star’s mark in the 100 backstroke, lowering it from 48.77 to 48.21. Both of Grevers’ records had stood since 2003.
“That was the goal,” Black said. “Pretty much all season it was just training to go as fast as I could.”
The Stanford-bound Black first took aim at the record after clocking 20.2 in a club meet just before the high school season started. His time was .57 faster than his nearest competition, Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin’s Ryan Held.
“It was all-out the whole way to the wall and then I hit the wall and there was a moment of silence before I heard everyone scream,” Black said. “Then I had a look at what I went and I was happy with the result.”
Incredibly, Black wasn’t done, as just 20 minutes later he came back and dueled Jovanovic in a thrilling heat of the 100 butterfly.
Both swimmers broke the state record of 48.21 held by New Trier’s Mike Dominski, but Black set the new mark by edging the reigning state champion 47.20 to 47.81. If Black wins either event on Saturday he will become the first Mundelein swimmer to win a state title.
“We kind of knew all season that those would be my events, so you tailor the training toward coming back and having a good swim in a short window,” Black said. “I’m still hoping to go faster tomorrow, but tomorrow is about winning.”
Jovanovic, who has three state titles, later secured his first state record with his performance in the backstroke, though he was more excited about helping two of Loyola’s relay teams make the finals.
“I don’t think about records,” Jovanovic said. “I’ll probably have more on that tomorrow. I’m too focused on the team right now, so right now I’m not even remotely near thinking about myself.”
But Jovanovic, who will swim for Northwestern just like Grevers, knows the symbolism of being linked with the Olympian.
“I’ve known him for a very long time,” Jovanovic said. “I’d like to call him a close friend. I had the pleasure of seeing his career really blossom.
“He’s one of the sport’s biggest sweethearts and he’s given me tips and he’s kind of like that big mentor, someone that you would like to emulate.”
New Trier star Reed Malone, considered one of the top five seniors in the nation, added to his burgeoning resume by shattering the state record in the 200 free. Malone, who won the 200 individual medley and was runner-up in the 500 free last year, finished in 1:35.60. Former Neuqua Valley star Kevin Overholt had held the old mark of 1:37.24 since 2009.
“It’s nice. It’s so humbling to think that I’m faster than Kevin Overholt because he was just so good when he came through here,” Malone said. “I felt really good today, at least for that 200, and it all worked out.”
The USC-bound Malone also set a blistering pace in recording the best time in the 500. His time of 4:21.09 was only three seconds off the state record and nearly six seconds faster than his closest challenger, Lake Forest senior Peter Grumhaus.
“I was kind of frustrated with the 500,” Malone said. “I wanted to be a little faster but I can’t really complain when I think was maybe .05 off a school record.”
Malone and his teammates are in great position to win their third straight team title. The Trevians will have six swimmers and all three relays in Saturday’s championship heats. Libertyville, which has four swimmers and one relay in the top 6, is the only other school with more than three such entries, and Hinsdale Central is the only other team with all three relays in the final heat.
In other results, Addison Trail senior Nick Zito had the top preliminary time in the 200 I.M. (1:51.22) and Metea Valley sophomore Matt Salerno topped the field in the 100 breaststroke (56.16).